Written on March 20, 2011
In the bustling streets of Musherib, tables at restaurants and cafeterias are filled with men sipping on QR1 Chai Karak – local tea with milk – and snacking on different samosas – stuffed pastry, a South Asian specialty. Across town at Souq Waqif, the scene is similar with men sitting in outdoor cafes smoking sheesha pipes – water pipes used for smoking flavored tobacco. Both are a social hubs for the South Asian men and the local Qataris, respectively. Both scenarios may be different but one thing they both share is that they gather in such places to watch and support their sporting teams together on television screens.
In recent days, the world is witnessing the game of Cricket taking a center stage as the Cricket World Cup tournament includes many of the countries of which the men working and living in Musherib hail from.
In most restaurants and cafeterias in Musherib, one would find it mostly packed with expatriate men who live within the area as they congregate to cheer on their national teams. “The people who most come to my restaurant here are the Bangladeshis,” said Shaik Suhaib, a 35 year-old Indian restaurant manager of the Al Weesal Restaurant in Musherib. “After the Bangladeshis follows the Pakistanis, then Indians. Since they are a minority in the area, they sort of observe what is going on and check whether to come in to the restaurant or not.”
Such restaurants and cafeterias are a source of gathering for these men in Qatar, especially the Bangladeshis whose national Cricket team has been doing well in the World Cup tournament. “These Bangladeshis are so insane, they always ask “why did we loose why did we loose” whenever they loose,” said Suhaib. “These Cricket games becomes part of their lives, it becomes personal.” Indeed, such gatherings in support of their teams becomes a source to cure homesickness and support their national pride, even when they are flights away from home.
Many workers also come to these restaurants because their work timings and schedules forbids them from playing Cricket during the week. “I used to play the game but I don’t have time for it now,” said Shaikh Imran, a 19 year-old Indian who spends his afternoons at Mangrove Restaurant and Hyderabad Spices shop in Musherib. “I come here because I can watch my favorite game instead of playing it.” Abdul Haleem, a Bangladeshi 35 year-old labor working and living in Musheirb said that he watches the games at the restaurant because there was nothing better to do. “Sometimes I watch it here at the restaurant during my resting time. There is nothing to do after my morning hours of work, so I come here and watch with my friends,” Haleem said.
Shaikh Suhaib, the Indian manager of Al Weesal Restaurant and Juice stall, said that he was optimistic about the future and where these men can congregate. “The opportunities won’t go away, because there is a lot of different markets that are coming up. For example, people are going to the airport area in order to start shop so the opportunities are not going away,” he said. “It is going to be better and cleaner. The shops that are being built is going to be of the best quality. It is going to be better than here for sure.” Haleem, the Bangladeshi worker, said that there is no other place to watch the Cricket matches except in Musherib. “No, its only here. There is no other place,” said Haleem.
The Dohaland project in Musherib, a redevelopment project that is reconstructing the rundown Musherib area, poses an obstacle to where these men can meet and congregate in the future. “Even if there is another place that they want us to relocate to, my friends would still come here,” said Imran, as he watched Bangladesh defeat the Netherlands by 6 wickets. When asked if the restaurant he comes to would be broken down, Imran said: “I will go to a hotel where they show the Cricket matches and games and I will try there and my friends will just try to contact me there.”