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!

World Record Catamaran

Turanor PlanetSolar, a 100-foot catamaran

I was volunteered to go to an Admiral’s Call across town last week. And during his talk, the three-star stressed alternative energy choices that were going to be part of the Navy’s future.

I wonder if he was referring to solar, like this ridiculous beast:

Turanor PlanetSolar, a futuristic-looking 100-foot catamaran, on Friday became the first vessel to have circumnavigated the planet exclusively on power generated by the sun. The voyage, which began and ended in Monaco, lasted 19-plus months and included layovers in 28 countries, which were designed to promote the importance of solar energy.

Traveling on an equatorial route to take advantage of abundant sunshine, Turanor PlanetSolar covered more than 37,000 miles and set multiple Guinness World Records. The five-man crew enjoyed stops in such destinations as Tangier, Miami, Cancun, the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bombay, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

I am all for smart energy choices. But they must save us money. Just to jump on the bandwagon, while incurring a higher cost, makes no sense.

The World’s Fattest Country

Qatar’s leader Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani

Surprising news from the world of bellies. Qatar won the title as the world’s chubbiest country. I’ve spent a lot of time in Doha, flying out of Al Udeid Air Base. And I’ll vouch for the facts:

Qatar, the richest nation on earth, is also the fattest with half of all adults obese and 17 per cent of the population suffering from diabetes.

By comparison America, which is often assumed to be the fattest, looks positively slim with a third of adults obese and eight per cent diabetic.

Out of a population of 1.7million, just 250,000 are native Qataris, who, in the space of just two generations have switched from a tribal existence to living in air conditioned villas being waited on by armies of servants.

Jenny Craig, Medi-Fast, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, Atkins, where are all y’all at?