Some of you may already know that I am currently away in Doha. What you probably don’t know is that on Sunday, Qatar celebrated their National Day.  It is a hugely important holiday here and a chance for people to get out and enjoy themselves.  On Saturday night the celebrations got a jump start and there were tons of cars in the streets carrying people wearing burgundy and white and carrying all kinds of flags.

There seemed to be a contest wherein people would try and see how loud and long they could rev their engines in front of the hotel ending with a huge backfire BANG!  This was the lullaby for both Saturday and Sunday nights. The festivities and the noise carried on until well into the wee hours (like 3:30am). See for yourself: I decided to see if I could capture some of the spirit (and the gridlock) from my hotel room 9 floors above the action.

On the actual National Day, I was working and we had been prepared that our shuttle at the end of the day would likely not be able to get us all the way back to the hotel and we would have to walk. The drive takes about 25 minutes each way from our downtown hotel. At the 2 hour mark, Pregnant Peggy, Cassidy and I were the only ones left on the mini-bus. Our colleagues had abandoned ship some 50 meters and a half hour before and the road was suddenly closed ahead of us. In other words, time to get directions and head for the hotel, a solid 45 minutes by foot away.

Our first stretch was along a boulevard and I will admit that I was still feeling a little skittish b y the crowds.  I had my “blender”; a flag on a stick that I was waving in the hopes of blending in.  There were people of all shapes and sizes who were popped out of their sun roofs in their moving cars to take it all in. I did find myself a little concerned about the safety of it all but could see that people were having a great time.  It rreally didn’t take long to see that as much mayhem as there appeared to be on the one hand, it was totally peaceful on the other.

As a Canadian, I was not prepared for the enthusiasm.  Boisterous crowds at home have been known to get out of hand. It is true that there were groups of young men walking in between the cars looking for open windows. Their ‘weapons’? Silly String or Shaving Cream…in other words…nothing to be scared of and more people than not yelling greetings and words of welcome.  The joyful crowds were a breath of fresh air.

The roads were packed and the driving a little like Fast and Furious as you will see in my friend Tim Hughes’ video taken on National Day just outside our hotel. I will tell you – you need about 30 seconds before you see the video/driving highlight.

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