When I return to my home country and people ask me what Doha is like, I just pause and non-nonchalantly say "It's simply multiculturalism on steroids!". I honestly do not think i am too far off when I say that. From my modest experience in my three year stay in Doha, I can say that culture develops in Doha in a way that it develops nowhere else. On a daily basis I interact with people from at least 4-5 different nationalities which is amazing by any standard! My social network or a group of people I am connected with in one way or another is extremely diverse. Interacting with these groups of people allows for our habits, hobbies, cultures or even tastes to converge into this beautiful melting pot of civilizations which makes Doha today. It's amazing to me how culture diffuses and adopts parts of other cultures to incorporate it into a unique blend.
I will tell the tale of introducing my father to ritual of Karak in Doha. Rituals enable groups to gather collectively and reinforce collective identity, or in this case, converge with a part of a different culture. We had a conversation last night while having tea about Karak and he told me he's heard of it but that he's never tried it. To provide some background, he is a diplomat living in Doha for three years now. His interaction is limited to other diplomats or businessmen; the venues he visits are mostly hotels, malls, restaurants, diplomatic receptions etc. He has visited Qatari majlises and interacted with Qataris, but the way they treat him his very flattering simply because of the nature of "His Excelencly's" tittle. So, I decided to be the one to show him one of the most "Doha" things to do in Doha.
It was almost dusk and we had finished our family dinner so I told him that instead of tea, tonight we should head to get some Karak. He complied with a dose of skepticism simply because of the age gap and i don't think he knew what to expect; I had previously told him I go there with my friends in the late night hours so I can understand his reaction. Whilst driving to Bandar which is a place that serves Karak near the Corniche, i witnessed culture diffuse in traffic where he took his Balkan temper and driving etiquette and applied it in Doha traffic. I tried explain my fascination to my father but the response was "What Balkan temper?" so i decided to switch the topic. We reached Bandar and he unfastened his seat-belt and tried to get out of the car. I told him to stay and honk the horn; he looked at me doubtfully and asked me why. I just told him to do it so he did. Seconds later, a man knocked on our window and asked us what we wanted. My father looked confused and in awe that a man would come and serve us simply by honking the horn. I quickly responded "Etneyen karak, please" which means "Two karak, please" in English; the man nodded and walked off. I spent some time explaining the process to my father who found it unacceptable and disrespectful to honk in front of a store. The epilogue of such an action in the Balkans would have been quite different, but culture is relative after all!
While we talked about this whole ordeal, the gentleman came back with our karak. I took the karak, payed the man and we drove away to find a spot to enjoy our oriental chai. We found a spot which faced upon the beautiful Doha skyline. I asked him what he thinks of it so far, he responded he likes the view of our Charshija which is the equivalent of the Souq in Skopje and that our traditional Turkish tea tastes better than the karak. We laughed about it and I told him that this could be a modern substitute of his former favorite place. He suggested that one day we play tavla or backgammon some day while drinking karak. That is one of the traditional games people in the Skopje Charshija play while enjoying a small glass of Turkish tea . We just made a plan to glocalize a domestic ritual with what we have in Doha. The process of glocalization is adapting a particular aspect of a culture to a certain locality or culture. We were going to participate in cultural diffusion! I was proud to say that next week inshallah, I will be participating in the process that makes Doha amazing!
I just sat back and reflected on the blend of culture that I participated in. Simply drinking the traditional karak while gazing upon the colossal skyscrapers that made Doha what it is, i thought of the magical blend of tradition and modernity and how globalization and glocalization occurred at the same time. I was going to participate into this process and bring our traditional game to our tea time; perhaps that will catch on and people will be going for karak and a game of backgammon or tavla soon. If you ever see that at Bandar, you know who started it! Selam Aleykum!