I realize I am not completely comfortable… I have been stared at by unblinking Indian men, was asked to step aside because a “man” who was behind me in a queue at immigration (it upset Nature’s laws that there was a woman ahead of him) and spent $40 on an adapter that was almost conveniently “borrowed” by yet another
Indian man whose logic was “you spent money, so why can’t I use it?” So, in short, I am in uncomfortable
But as I keep reminding myself, “I am here for a purpose.”
It’s not all bad. For every five nitwits, there is one good person.
What truly makes all of this worth the while is the experiences I garner and the things I see.
Let’s start with the most important place in the world – the restroom.
Here at Doha International Airport, the womens’ restroom has at least two custodial staff sitting on the floor of the restroom by the main door in-between cleanings after nearly every use. In my almost 12 hours at the airport and a few uses of the restroom I found that this team is made of young girls, usually in their late teens, early 20s who smile shyly when you thank them. They seldom talk. The girls simply look on curiously at the travelers as they brush their teeth, apply makeup and tidy their hair.
The airport buzzes with life and mosquitoes almost all night long. Duty-free shops sell exotic chocolates, alcohol and tobacco all times of the day and night. Sounds of cutlery and chatter mingle with aromas from restaurants that languidly waft through the airport into the wee hours of the morning when the airport is at its busiest yet its calmest, and someone somewhere always seems to have a cup of freshly-brewed coffee. Well, it is always time for coffee somewhere.
This lounge is a stop towards my next big adventure, Nepal. It would be too much of a stretch to say this 12-hour stop is a prelude to the next few weeks. Although it is nice glimpse – if I want to work in conservation in this part of the world, it helps to observe a few things ... even if my observations start at the airport – how many of these people actually choose to put their soda cans and plastic bottles in recycling bins … how many recycling bins are there … how many people let water run from the faucet as they stand brushing their teeth … Perhaps these are not things that might make or break the environment but it does show how many people actually care.
In my readings on Wildlife Conservation, I realized that it is usually the privileged or the poor who don’t much care about the environment or biodiversity. The former because they can’t be bothered and the latter because
they have too many things to bother about, beginning with how and where to get the next meal.
I’ve read some of the science on conservation. I’ve read just a little bit about society and conservation. I plan on reading more and putting it all together this summer at the field camp in Nepal.