A Mid-East Afternoon: Falcons, Hummus, and Sherlock Holmes

When I was deployed to Qatar, we rarely, if ever, got into Doha, the main city about 45 minutes away from the air base. There were forms you had to e-file and driving around town was a drag. Plus we worked long hours. But every now and then, we managed to get off base for some city entertainment.

One afternoon, while myself, two chiefs, and another JO were walking around the souk, we came upon a falcon store. It was fascinating, mostly because you could get so close to the hunting birds. They were masked and quite docile. Currently, CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER has a photo essay up on falcons, including shots of the exact shop we putzed around in:

in the fall the souk fills with men shopping for falcons, including sakers, lanners, and peregrines. Prices start around 5,000 riyals (about $1,400) for a captive bred bird and can reach as high as one million riyals ($280,000) for a wild caught

In the fall the souk fills with men shopping for falcons, including sakers, lanners, and peregrines. Prices start around 5,000 riyals (about $1,400) for a captive bred bird and can reach as high as one million riyals ($280,000) for a wild caught.

That was a fun afternoon. We talked a country Chief into trying some of the local food. He was a hamburger guy. Mustard on his french fries was exotic to him. (He was this kind of country.) He ended up liking the hummus and the shwarma. But not some of the other food we tried to foist on him.

After the souk, the falcons, and the meal, we grabbed the Sherlock Holmes movie at the Villaggio movie theater. Mini movie review: excellent. I am a Sherlock Holmes aficionado, going way back to Basil (don’t call me Baaaaasel) Rathbone and Jeremy Brett. But Robert Downey, Jr. nailed the part with more physical style than either of the two prior gentlemen.

Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in Elementary

Lucy Liu, Jonny Lee Miller, Elementary

I also liked PBS’ Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch’s Holmes. Ben Cumberbatch (as he is known to his closest of friends) portrays Holmes as far more cerebral than Downey Jr. A thinking man’s Holmes, if there is such a thing.

And the former Mr. Angelina Jolie, Johnny Lee Miller, nails Sherlock Holmes in the television show Elementary as a tattooed genius, just out of rehab. Poor Lucy Liu. Her Watson has to strive to keep up with Holmes, but she does it with a nice sense of subtlety.

There you go: falcons, country music, hummus, and Sherlock. All in one post. Phew!

11 thoughts on “A Mid-East Afternoon: Falcons, Hummus, and Sherlock Holmes

  1. How cool would it be to own a falcon!

    I love Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, but no so much the TV series “Elementary.” My ears have a difficult time tuning in to his fast talk.

      • I have to disagree. I like the original Sherlock Holmes stories, not only for the sharp eye and fast-calculating mind of the great detective, but also for the courteous and speech of the era, the friendship between the cerebral Holmes and the less sharp-witted but brave and active Dr. Watson. There’s something about the horse-drawn carriages and slow pace of living and even speaking of the Victorian age –not to mention that ladies are lady-like and act with decorum, and gentlemen are correct and well behaved (in the educated classes), even when committing murder, that lifts one out of our fast paced life, our speeding cars, our being accustomed to car chases, explosions, gunplay, gratuitous violence, gratuitous sex, violent sex in our entertainment. A kind of relaxation envelops the reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. I know: I’m an old-fashioned fuddy duddy who hasn’t fully entered the 21st century. Guilty as charged.
        http://www.clarkzlotchew.com

        • Aw, your email got snagged in my spam folder! And I just found it. I like all things Sherlock Holmes, the old and the new. . . I am guilty as charged too!

  2. As a 12 year old I had the privilege to handle and rear a young Kestrel chick that my father found sitting under a bush. It had been abandoned due to the nests storm damage. We named her Sky, and I immediately fell in lover with her. We sought advice from a local Falconer over her feeding, training and care, which was more delicate than it sounds. To every ones amazement Sky pulled through (and went on to live eleven years, one year past their normal life span).

    When she was old enough my father asked if we should perhaps hand her over to the Falconer for proper training (she was too domesticated to be released back into the wild). When the day came I was absolutely heart broken, but as a consolation I would go and watch her train as well as handle her when the chance arose. I still have her anklet, hood and jesse’s.
    (As well as childhood memories; countless hours sitting in a wooden shed talking to her).

    Elementary NavyOne.
    ~
    From this side of the pond the most popular ‘Sherlock Holmes’ TV series is that in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays ‘Holmes'; he is a good mix of the past and present. In my mind the original ‘Sherlock Holmes’ films are classics, with Basil Rathbone playing the lead character; all part of my childhood, which I remember fondly.

    Elementary… it-is-not!
    Jonny Lee Miller has missed the mark completely in my humble opinion.

    Yours Aye

  3. Long time fan of Edinburgh born, Jesuit educated, Anglo-Irish Conan Doyle here. What I liked most about the RD Jr. version is Jude Law’s Watson. A much more muscular personage which always made sense to me – Dr. Watson was a wounded Indian Army vet and no lovable bumbling cupcake as they had Nigel Bruce play him opposite Rathbone. I agree w/Bootneck re Cumberbatch & can’t abide “Elementary.” I tried to watch it but found my Laphroaig more interesting after the first commercial break. Demonstrates how Hollywood can take a 125 year old successful franchise & turn it into a 43 minute pre-frontal lobotomy.

    An aside – I used to drive down Baker St. every other day (Port/Starboard duty) to Grosvenor Square for two years. Going south, Baker St. becomes Orchard St @ Portman Square and then changes again to Audley St. south of Oxford St & Selfies. Point is – there ain’t no 221B – believe me. I looked every time, thinking I’d missed it. However, MarDet London was definetly manned by Baker St. Irregulars.

    • Hey, I lived in West Hampstead and worked in downtown London for two years stationed at the Navy Building; and every day I worked, the 159 bus dropped me off in front of 221B Baker Street across the street from Selfridges…the address was actually an insurance company that used their location as an advertisement for Sherlock Holmes for it’s own notoriety and public face …at their front entryway on the second floor to the building there was a black daguerreotype representing Sherlock Holmes with the customary cap…at least that was when I was there….but since it was years ago and many things could well have changed, who knows what it looks like today…..we could ask Ex Bootneck …k

      • Small world, Kristen. The MarDet Barracks were in St. John’s Wood and I lived @ Belsize Terrace in Hampstead off Finchley Rd, north of Swiss Cottage. I used to give the familiarization lecture to all incoming personnel @ Naval HQ Europe (which was Eisenhower’s SHAEF HQ during WWII) and all the Marines you saw there were Marine Detachment London personnel so, strangely, our path’s might have crossed.

      • Small world, Kristen. The MarDet Barracks were in St. John’s Wood and I lived @ Belsize Terrace in Hampstead off Finchley Rd, north of Swiss Cottage. I used to give the familiarization lecture to all incoming personnel @ Naval HQ Europe (which was Eisenhower’s SHAEF HQ during WWII) and all the Marines you saw there were Marine Detachment London personnel so, strangely, our path’s might have crossed.
        The 221B you refer to was a great tourist snag – the intersection at Selfies is actually Orchard St, north of Oxford St. Baker St. stops at Wigmore. That was sweet duty & good days.

  4. EB and Struan: Elementary is just finding its stride. The first couple of shows were not great, but it is definitely getting better. I also love Holmes, so I imagine I would watch Tom Cruise in the role. Well, maybe not him. . .

    (Love the story, EB, of the Kestrel. What an amazing bird. . .)

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