Doha, Qatar 2/4/16

Journal Entry:

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Everyone is so peaceful.  Though the airport is bustling like an ant hill in late fall every person is peacefully making their way to their destination.

So many different cultures and races crossing paths – it’s beauty orchestrated – like the inherent interconnectedness of humanity.

Finding refuge in one of the most elegant spa/gym/pools ever seen – in the middle of the airport, three floors up from the sacred geometric shuffle.

This is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.  its elegance is reflected in the marble flooring and vaulted ceilings.  The spa is overwhelmed by a eucalyptus mist.  Cleverly placed LED lights provide the illusion of being at a seaside resort.

You may even surf the internet from the treadmill.  Unfortunately its the only screen on the premise entirely in Arabic.

The one gesture universal and true is the smile.  Even those visibly bored will echo a ruffled smile back.

It’s quite delightful to walk the length of the airport with luggage locked away.

Two pages into a New York Times Bestseller novel and I’m interrupted by a native Pakistan man who is traveling from his life-long home in Denmark to see is family of origin for the first time.  Age 35.  his plea is for company after not having spoken to a soul for over 8 hours.  He offers a drink and I counter suggest dinner.  We head to the food court and order from the most Arabic looking menu.

His english is a little broken but very easy to understand.  We laugh and share stories.  I’m touched to hear again that we all desire the same things – to be happy, to have a good relationship and to have a job that is descent.

I am fascinated by the artwork on the different nation’s dollar bills.  It seems so far all other countries have more colorful money and the images tell a story – one I’m not familiar with.  Not all nations have a face on the bills.  Some are buildings or flowers.  All of them have words and all of them have numbers.  It is easy to translate knowing math but the value is taking longer to decipher.

The elevator music in Doha sounds like soft Beats Antique which in itself is funny to say because this part of the world birthed the rhythms that inspired Beats Antique.

Juggling is still revered by all as a mysterious and complicated art.

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Chicago, IL 2/3/16 O’Hare Airport

Written Journal Entry:

The airport is a lawless place of the highest respectability.  Children and the elderly are most noble – juggling and even dropping entertains all for a few seconds as they pass.

International travel is not a small accomplishment.  Each person on this side of the gate has either earned or been given this experience.

Thoughts and ears wander through foreign sounds of conversation – communication.  How do we all communicate?  What things tie us together? Our most simple desires: work that is fulfilling, a creative outlet, a sense of self-confidence, to be loved, to express oneself, to dream and spirituality.

How do we universally convey these messages and meanings?  Through art, dance, gesture, money, numbers.  Some things are the same – the way we count, the ways we can move and the ways we can create visual and audio art.

No need for fancy education to understand one another.  Though common courtesy may not always be common it’s always appreciated.

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Additional Notes

Some things are naturally “known” through communication by all.  Numbers are the same everywhere, even if we don’t say them the same.  Everyone appreciates a decent tip – as I have come to understand tipping in Thailand is not the same as back home.  In the US a standard %20 is customary for all services, from waiters and massage therapists to hair dressers and cab drivers.  In Thailand if they were decent its normal to tip pocket change. Pocket change is in the amounts of 1, 2, 5 or 10 Bhat.  35 Bhat (B35) is equivalent to $1 US.  Doing the math, a regular tip is less than a dollar.  If you really enjoyed the service 10% seemed to bring a smile. 20% made me a new friend who would then open up speaking english and asking all kinds of questions.

Cost for a 60 Minute Thai Massage B200 = $5.71 us with a B20 tip = $.57

A cup of coffee in Thailand from a hostel was about B50 – $1.42 which is about the same for gas station coffee in the US.

Breakfast ranged from B45 – eggs, toast (spread with mustard/mayo), ham slice, coffee and water

to B100 for a cashew/strawberry/raisin/honey crepe

They do “dutch” or “english” style breakfast very well even though the bread is super fluffy and tastes like a sugary cake.

Gratitude is also understood by all, even though we don’t say it the same, it is quite easy to learn.  On the trip I learned how to say Thank you in Thai, Lao, German, Japanese and Philippines. Cop Coon Ca, Cop Jai La Lai, Danke, Arigato and Salamon.

Also “Meow” is understood by people of different nations and languages.  Most usually bringing a questioning look and a smile after.

The asian languages are sing-song like and I’m missing hearing it already.  The emphasis is on inflection and raising or lowering of pitch.  It took some time but a wonderful thai lady was teaching me the difference between beautiful and bad – “Soi” or “Soy”  they sound almost identical but she kept explaining.  I strained my ears to hear the very subtle difference and it was in the facial expression and very slight inflection.  The little bit of Thai I picked up only made me want to learn more.