Culture. What does it mean to me?
Well, I suppose it has not really been something that I have given a great deal of thought. Until now. The past few days have been quite eye opening. Setting off on my European adventure, I have kicked into “explorer mode”. The whole idea behind moving away and getting out of my comfort zone is exactly that, shaking things up and considering new worldviews. First stop, Doha.
A lot of people questioned why I would spend three days here. Fair. Doha is not exactly known for its wonders. However, with an effort to prove people wrong, and “go my own way”, I have turned the city upside down and found every bit of culture possible. From the opulent, to the dirty, I have seen (and eaten) it all. To say the least, I am grateful for every moment spent here. The sights, sounds and tastes of Doha have kicked started my year of adventure in the best possible way. I am almost lost for words. Although I could not see myself living here, three days has been a wonderful step into… wait for it… a whole new world. The people are kind, considerate and patient. The sights are serene, varied and rich with life. The food is balanced, fresh and hearty. Overall, the attitude is one of humility and thankfulness. Coming from a fast paced Sydney, where most small details are taken for granted (sorry for the generalisation), this total change in mood is very welcome. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a big difference between visiting and living in any city (working at WDW taught me that ha), but I sure am glad that I have visited Doha. Even better, my very well rounded 75 hours here has cost me a grand total of $600, including private airport transfers and a pricey glass of wine (whoops).
Context! As I write this, I am sitting in the gobsmackingly beautiful Museum of Islamic Art, sipping on a turkish coffee and peering out over the water. With the stunning (and I mean truly stunning) city skyline in the distance, I am pinching myself. Thank goodness this is real. With this perfect environment right in my face, I am inspired. Culture and what it means to me is top of mind, for the first time in a long time. Are my eyes being opened? Yes, yes they are. How lucky am I to have a city like Doha prep me for the cultural sights of Europe. Not only am I working on my jet lag (it is extreme), but I am coming out of my culture cocoon. Wow.
How does Disney tie in? Well, a Disney frame of mind is with me everywhere I go (duh). Also, I am of course wearing my Aladdin shirt. No one has commented, but hey, I am sure someone appreciates it ha. More than the obvious, I have been thinking a fair bit about Walt Disney as a cultural explorer. Hear me out. Walt was always seeking to learn about new and exotic ways of life. Think back to the three caballeros, or even the whole idea of the world showcase. In a time where Americans were only interested in America and surviving the Great Depression, Walt wanted to expose his audience to a new fantastic point of view (cue music please). He was trying to get people to stop worrying for a moment and escape to far off lands. Long story short, at its heart Disney is an expression of Walt’s passion for exploring and sharing culture in new ways. Aren’t we lucky. Today, it is so easy to just plod along, comfortable, not challenged, happily living day to day. Don’t get me wrong, that is nice. However, it is almost as though we are becoming too busy to be enticed by other cultures. That is entirely not ok. Where do we draw the line and step into a whole new world? Of course that is a personal question. For me, the answer is right now.
The past few days have seen me become a real world Jasmine (without the royal title, of course). I have jumped out of my comfort zone, trusted strangers, challenged myself, felt confronted and appreciated every second. Over the next few days, I will get my thoughts together on key moments of my “Jasmine journey”. Hold tight my friends, it will be a long story. Good thing I have a flight to Paris to fill 🙂 x