decipherment – The analysis of documents written in ancient languages, where the language is unknown, or knowledge of the language has been lost.
Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions. ~Paulo Coelho
One thing I love about my job is having the opportunity to travel to and live in different countries long enough to really grow in my understanding of that country, its culture and history to how it has changed throughout history to form its present state of being.
My current position still has me traveling to different countries, but the time frame of staying is likely to be from a few weeks to a few months tops. This puts a significant amount of pressure on my nature to find ways of gaining the 2-3 years of knowledge and experiences about a country into a shorter time-frame. This will require me to find more spontaneous and eclectic ways to gain deeper insights. Though decipherment refers more specifically to the written language, I like to think of it as an all encompassing visual, written, oral, and textile experience in a country.
Country 1 – Doha, Qatar
Lucky for me I am currently working with a group of girls that are as incentivized as I am to see as much of a country, as quickly as possible, from every angle and time period that we have here.
First idea – (not mine) take the metro. Find your way from point A to point B with minimal knowledge of where we were going or what we would end up doing. Brilliant that led to so many questions that we had to pick apart to fully understand. A super insightful way to begin to understand how a country operates. Destination – National Museum.
So you think you can understand something if you just look at the pictures. Also, all directions were in both Arabic and English. Easy peasy .. right? First off, the yellow picture above was mistaken for an alien .. possibly part of a police force. Apparently that just means train. Uh.. duh.. I knew that.. … …
We bought general day pass tickets to use the train. We get to the metro loading dock and have an option to go into the “standard”, “gold” or “family” doors. Hmmm.. well.. we are friends but not family. The gold door was obviously not what we paid for so it seemed “standard” fit the bill. Except. Only men stood at this door. Nope. Not standard. We followed a group of women into the “family” train. Phew.. we made it. Super clean and very quiet.
Then we arrive at the National Museum stop. I could have spent half a day just walking around the outside of the building. Just like many buildings in Doha, incredible architecture. Multi-layered. Reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book but in an incredibly subtle and balanced way.
The Importance of Architecture
At its roots, architecture exists to create the physical environment in which people live, but architecture is more than just the built environment, it’s also a part of our culture. It stands as a representation of how we see ourselves, as well as how we see the world.
All of this.. before we even enter the museum. Due to a significant amount of construction going on around the city and at the museum, we were told that a fairly large part of the museum was closed. We debated going in but then thought that as long as we were there we might as well see what we could see. I am so glad we did. From the moment we entered the museum, the mood was set. Music, lighting, audio and visual effects, that set the stage for an emotional journey. Surprising as this was not my heritage or my country. The setting was alive and vibrant in every area we entered. Starting with this stark video image (mixed with many others) on the first wall.
“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter – often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter – in the eye.” – Charlotte Bronte
“Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.” – Samuel Richardson
“The eyes shout what the lips fear to say.” – William Henry
“When a woman is talking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.” – Victor Hugo
Anyways – So many quotes about eyes. But there was so much more to see. There was a movie playing in one area that I wanted to just sit and watch. Only music, no words, but the size of the screen and the images presented so clearly told a story that words were unnecessary. At the end of the museum as we were about to leave, we were invited to visit the “special” room that consisted of glass beads and sculptures hanging from the ceiling that changed colors based on the music being played.
There were so many other installations within the gallery that included a children’s section that we took over and completely enjoyed, old cars, old phones, clothing and jewels from different eras, and interviews from the people associated with creating and building Doha. Absolutely amazing and enlightening. A must stop and see if you ever make it to Doha, Qatar. So many more pictures but really, I’m going to let you discover this when you take the plunge and travel here.
In every country and region, there are practices and ways of living and culture that have been handed down from ancestors. Naturally, I feel that these should be respected. Shinzo Abe
Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures. Cesar Chavez
Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future. Albert Camus
Diverse cultures: Understanding Culture; Disdain for Culture and the road to Fascism;The Value of Acceptance: Saying ‘Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything’; Around the world in 182 days: Namibia; Is it hard to make friends in a new country?; Lessons from Taoism: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times; Five Life-Changing Gifts of Travel; Tote Bag and Other Thoughts; Give Peace a Chance;The Greatest Invention: A History of the World in Nine Mysterious Scripts; Acceptance; A Guide to Belgium’s Customs & Culture