Yes, the half-term break here known as Eid was pretty good unless of course you happened to be born as a goat. Tens of thousands of the gormless creatures were mercifully slaughtered by elder sons wielding traditional curved knives which glinted and gleamed in the midday sun as the point descended (in slow-motion of course) ceremonially and mercifully piercing the carotid artery of the beast in a feast and fountain of symbolic (unless you were the poor goat) spilt blood, representing one of the nomadic desert religious nonsense from superstitious goat herds back in the Dark Ages. Sure, I really ought to take more interest in such things but....I suppose the local equivalent of the Daily Mail, were such a rag to exist, would have me down as one of those cursed foreigners who just won't integrate... but having lived overseas before they don't tend to expect or say such things...still live and let live and all that.
However, I wasn't around to see the bloodshed as I had headed back to Broadstairs and the ancient and reinvented tradition of Halloween resurrected gratefully by Tesco circa 2004 beginning the displacement of the tradition of burning effigies of a catholic terrorist. It was a good break despite the comparative cold and not seeing Tottenham win a single game. I caught up with a couple of old colleagues from Kent's crappy coastal academy. Not a single cell made me wish I was there.
The return journey was an eye-opener. Qatar Airways, the airline of a tiny but crazily, obscenely, rich state which by rights ought not to really exist. A bit like Dubai and Saudi they got blessed with geography. Good luck to them - what to do with all that cash? Well they splashed the cash by 'buying' the 2022 World Cup as well as Harrods and large swathes of London and support now given to various Syrian and Palestinian 'brothers.' Yes, Qatar Airways is comparatively cheap and as the self-declared 5 Star Airline of the world provides an otherwise excellent service. However, the seating arrangements seemed to highlight the confluence of extreme wealth and stupidity. The airline seems to have a seating policy designed by religious fat women sharing huge amounts of Celebrations across the aisles and bizarrely travelling in pleb class with the likes of me. Travelling through the Gulf before it had often seemed that Business Class had been bought out by whole families which makes sense as the flight was delayed by more than an hour as the cabin crew spent time asking various male passengers to play non-musical chairs to assuage certain passengers a row in front of me who didn't want unrelated men sitting next to them. I had never experienced that before and all the while various take-off slots were being missed which would inevitably mean a missed connection.
I had angry time to kill in Doha Airport (a hole) as my onward connection had been missed so along with a few other irate passengers, questioned the seating policy which was naturally denied by the harassed Qatar Airways drone who tried to buy us off with free use of the closed lounge, and free use of the Qatar Airways phone (to wake up various lifts at 3.00 am) while continuing to deny such a policy existed to the tune of 250 dollars in compensation.
February 2014 - update
Well since being delayed by stupidity I have travelled on a number of airlines and indeed it is the national careers such as the much vaunted Etihad who also pander to dumbwittedness. I have been handsomely compensated immediately to the tune of airmiles and a meet and greet and welcome champagne. KLM however have no truck brusquely handout a complaints sheet which will doubtless be filed under i for ignore. What still gets me though is why with such wealth these women are forced to sit away from hubby / brother / uncle travelling up front away from us plebs. Ah well....all pre-ordained by Allah I guess.