The Middle East Haunts My Life But Occasionally in a Good Way, Particularly Qatar; Qatar Invests in Pakistan, Hopefully Just in Time; Jest Defined With Its Origins; Street Children World
Cup Shall Proceed the World Cup; My Puny Athletic Abilities Revealed; Wished For Dad Laces My Ice Skates; Three Cartoons to Bring Needed Humour

Just when I think the Middle East is a thing of the past, something pops up and I am back there again. I suppose reading Al Jazeera does not exactly help with my isolationism.

This caught my eye, probably because I have known, and know, many people from both Pakistan and Qatar – the two countries involved in the news. “The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has announced it aims to spend $3bn on various commercial and investment sectors in Pakistan, which is currently facing a dire economic crisis, according to a statement released by Qatar’s Amiri Diwan. Wednesday’s announcement was made during a visit to Doha by Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who held official talks with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani after a meeting with the QIA on Tuesday.” A Minister spoke of the laudable use of the funds: “This is very good and more than what we needed,” he said. The minister further added that once the Qataris buy Pakistani assets, it will “boost our reserves”.“They are interested in airports, seaport terminals, LNG-fired power plants, solar energy, [and] shares in the stock markets,” he said.”

I find that tremendously encouraging. Qatar is a quiet but very powerful mediator. I do wish that the World Cup would be over and done with so that the country can again concentrate on being a quiet intervenor for world peace. Everyone has a nickname on this blog, perhaps the country shall be called Q.Q. – for Quiet Qatar- I shall search for another Q word and make the country Triple Q. I am sure that will make the Father Emir happy – I do jest – it and me are meaningless to him.

Jest seem a good word to define. It is a thing said or done for amusement. Looking to the origins of the word is most telling: Late Middle English: from earlier gest, from Old French geste, from Latin gesta ‘actions, exploits’, from gerere ‘do’. The original sense was ‘heroic deed’, hence ‘a narrative of such deeds’; later the term denoted an idle tale, hence a joke.
As you can see it was once heroic, therefore I would suggest quite the opposite of sarcasm, which is also funny but not at all heroic. Enough of that! (Thank goodness you say.) The phrase in jest captures more of the quality of the word: in fun, facetiously, flippantly, frivolously, for a laugh; to tease, teasingly, banteringly, whimsically. Its antonym is seriously. ‘

But back to Pakistan and Qatar.”Pakistan is currently dealing with serious economic turmoil and faces a balance of payments crisis, with foreign reserves having dropped as low as $7.8bn, barely enough for more than a month of imports. The country is also contending with a widening current account deficit, depreciation of the rupee against the United States dollar and inflation that hit more than 24 percent in July. During the session, the two heads discussed bilateral relations between Qatar and Pakistan, and ways to support and develop them in “the fields of defence, economy, investment, trade exchange, energy and sports, in addition to discussing the efforts made by the two countries to combat terrorism”, the statement said.”

Al Jazeera announces that Pakistani troops will be called upon to quell the crowds during the World Cup. There is a boasting Instagram post predicting that 2 million will attend the World Cup.  Qatar is a tiny country – no idea how they shall cram everyone within its tiny borders. It appears that many ‘attending’ will be troops, police, military and others brought in to control the masses. I would imagine that the they will be housed in a neighboring country, or perhaps off shore on ships.  Needless to say I shall not join the masses, although at one time in the not too distant past, I  had a dream that I would attend, assuming a rather major and unique role. more about that in a later blog.

Hopefully Qatar’s generosity (as repayment unlikely in the near future) will boost the economy which desperately needs support. In the meantime the former prime minister is doing his very best to destroy the country and uninformed people with no sense of history are coming out in droves to support a man who led them to economic ruin. What are droves? A drove is  a large number of people or things doing or undergoing the same thing. Synonyms swarm: swarm, horde, multitude, mob, throng, host, mass, army; rabble, herd, crush.

Former Prime Minister Khan is inciting a horde, a mob, a multitude, a rabble to storm across Pakistan to support him. Does not he remind you of another world (so-called) leader? Trump of course, men drunk on power, their own egos paramount. I would not like to be Former Prime Minister Khan on the Day of Judgment – he is, of course, a Muslim. Well, neither would I like to me Trump on the Day of Judgment. He is, of course, not a Muslim.

But I do hate and despise negativity. Therefore, we shall jump to something positive and then I shall throw in some humour. Not only is Qatar attempting to save the day providing by financial aid to Pakistan but it is also sponsoring an event prior to the World Cup which will have major implications.

This news, again from Al Jazeera.” Qatar has been preparing to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 since winning the bid in 2010. But just over a month before the mega-event kicks off, the capital Doha will play host to the Street Child World Cup (SCWC).
The 11-day event, which includes 28 teams from 24 countries, will take place from October 5 at Oxygen Park in Education City, which also houses Education City Stadium, one of the eight venues for the Qatar 2022 World Cup that kicks off on November 20.”
“In 2008, I met a boy named Andile who lived on the streets,” John Wroe, co-founder and CEO of Street Child United (SCU), told Al Jazeera. “He said when people see him on the streets, they say he’s a street child but when they see him playing football, they say he’s a person. We wanted to bring a change on the street children’s behalf and we realised that having a world cup for street children was a great way to do that.” This year’s tournament will be the fourth SCWC after South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014) and Russia (2018).
“The last 12 years have been a bit of a fairytale. We went from eight teams to 24 and all the projects we’re working with [in various countries] are much stronger and been able to bring the messages that are important for SCU, particularly around birth registration, access to education, protection from violence and gender equality.”
For Sadock John, being able to play football and taking part in the SCWC in 2010 was the turning point in his life.
Growing up on the streets and being part of various gangs breaking into houses, John said his future looked bleak and he never imagined one day being able to represent his country on the international stage. “Football made me realise that life was more than what it was then. I’m not ashamed of sharing my story, of how I ended up on the streets and then how I got up from there,” John told Al Jazeera.

But I became particularly and excessively happy when upon reading the following. Drika, who grew up in northern Brazil before moving to a community in Rio, terms football and her experience at SCWC 2014 “life-changing”.
“Football, for me, has been life-changing. Before being part of the world cup, I thought I’d be like an ordinary girl in the community — having a child when I was 15, getting married and staying at home, which is not bad,” Drika told Al Jazeera.“But at and after the world cup, I met people from different places and that opened my mind and I thought that if I got there, I could do even more. The world was so big why would I stay just in the community.
“I never expected I would be representing my country at a world cup because I came from a small village. It was like a dream come true.”

The article ends on this high note: “It won’t happen overnight but we’ve seen significant change on the issues that are important for those young people. I’m a passionate believer that these young people have the same ambitions and potential as any other young person. They just haven’t had the opportunities. If we can play a part in helping them believe they can achieve anything, they can.”

Why did I become particularly and excessively happy when reading about Drika? It is because she is a young woman, that is why. She did not get married at 15 and stay at home and have a child. She does not criticize those who made that choice – but she had a choice and choose a different path. All women should have that choice. I did have a choice, did not get married at 15 and have never had a child. I am not even remotely athletic so my path out of conformity was not football. But what is amusing and is yet another reason that assures me that I am home here in Canada is this strange and unusual fact. I am not even remotely athletic but I can ice skate – my father taught me skating when I was little (before the birth of my two brothers). It has been rather a waste, this athletic ability, as I lived in California most of my life. But here, living in Canada, there shall be, when the cold comes. an ice rink within walking distance because there is an ice rink incorporated into the Alberta Legislative Grounds. With my knee brace and continued knee and back exercises, perhaps – at the ripe old age of 79 I will get back on skates. Watch Out World!

It is a rather long and sad story but I have been on skates in Edmonton before. A wonderful man, my ‘wished for Dad’ helped lace my skates, and  I think I have the photograph taken (I believe) in 2016 – not sure of the date. It is a sad story because my ‘wished for’ Dad died, but he was ninety, he was so sick, hence, it was time for him to go. He is so sorely missed by so many,  I am sure.

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