It’s true that social media and the internet are allowing people to feel more connected to the world than ever before. Moreover, we are able to stream our news to ensure that we receive exactly the information and news we want. If you don’t want to hear to hear the about Trump v Sanity don’t log on to CNN or BCC World News. If you don’t want to hear about Enda Kenny and our government, don’t log to any Irish news sites. If you don’t want to hear about Conor McGregor, turn your phone, iPad, Laptop and TV off altogether.
At the moment, my newsfeed consists of various Irish news sites, including the Evening Echo and the Examiner. I received regular updates from my hometown’s Facebook page. Waterford Whispers, of course, and various events guide and news feeds from Doha.
But as the celebrations and commemorations of 1916 are starting thick and fast, since St. Patricks Day and as it approaches Easter, all the coverage of the various events being held in honour of 1916 are making me more and more homesick and more to the point, more and more detached from where I actually am, Doha!
Every day I’m glued to the phone, watching clips where children are re-enacting various parts of the rising, my heart soars as I watch the earnest young faces bring it all back to life, then I look up and realise I’m not on the steps of city hall, I’m sitting in traffic on the Salwa Road, 12 lanes wide and like a thousand cars back from the traffic lights which seem to be stuck on red up ahead. When I watch clips of the schools in Ireland all raising the tri-colour, I can almost feel the cold flagpole on my hands, I’m there with them, in the moment, but then I realise I’m actually waiting at the school gate, my flip flops almost buried in the warm sand, nowhere near such a unified display of patriotism.
My recent trick is to look at upcoming events in Dublin in honour of 100 years ago, I read all the details, check the ticket prices and availability, this pointless exercise almost resulted in having no Patricks Days plans in Doha, a total no-no among the Irish people here, who like to celebrate in style. It was days to go before the 17th and we had nothing booked. That’s right, here in Doha, there is no Patricks Day without a ticket, no parade, no atmosphere in the bars, no bars, so in order to create the atmosphere you will undoubtedly need to book a brunch.
Brunch in Doha, happens every Friday. All the hotels, the Ritz, the Sheraton, the Grand Hyatt, Radisson, Hilton, Intercontinental, Marriott, etc. etc. all put on a massive spread of food, usually from different parts of the world and for a fixed price you can eat all you can between 12 and 4 pm. The price is somewhere around QR 240 (Eu.60) but for c. QR360 (Eu.90) you can drink all you want too, champagne, wines, beers included, free-flow. Now if this was provided in Ireland, the hotel would be broke by four o clock on day 1 and back to carvery lunches on day 2. But somehow, when you get used to this kind of offering, you tone down the food and drink, as experience makes you realise that to indulge to the point that you have ingested ninety euros worth is sheer gluttony.
Anyhow at the last minute, we booked a brunch for Patricks Days, free-flow, natch. A shamrock ice sculpture, a chocolate fountain shaped like a leprechaun’s hat, green coloured alcohol shots and style, everyone dressed to the nines and the kids getting Irish inspired face paint. You would think that midst 5 star surroundings one would forget their phone and home but not me, shortly after my third glass of champagne, second round of lobster and first trip to the bathroom, I snuck to the bathroom and took out the phone, lo and behold the first thing I see are pictures from parades in County Galway.
I was transported, from standing in the marble clad bathroom of the Ritz Carlton in Doha to standing in Hughes car-park, admiring the tractors and vintage car display.
Hope you had a Happy St. Patricks Day, wherever you were.