Come buy, come buy (it used to be free)

As part of Doha Museum area beautification project, the authorities erected several drinking fountains, in the shape of miniature fortresses, and several drinks vending machines, similarly disguised. In their wisdom, they have since removed the drinking fountains (that's what the twisted pipework on the plinth on the left used to be), leaving only the vending machines. Compared with the continuing atrocities in Bahrain (lest we forget) this is a minor matter, but it's an irritation none the less. Where before you used to be able to take a refreshing couple of swallows every few hundred yards, now it's 500 mls in a plastic bottle or nothing. The bottles are dispensed ice-cold, the last thing you should be drinking in really hot weather. That's if they are dispensed at all. In Dubai, where you have one dirham coins, these machines more or less work. In Doha, they take one riyal notes. Sometimes. Maybe one time in four. Because these are fickle contraptions. They sulk unless the note is brand new and presented exactly in the correct orientation. It helps if you go down on one knee and bow three times first. They positively brindle and snarl at anything remotely soiled, crumpled, softened or torn, in other words, at ninety percent of the single riyals in circulation.
Not an improvement.


  1. David, please. Keep your wits about you.

    This is the proper order of things. It is correct within the capitalist paradigm, which is the only one acceptable in any civilised society.

    Anyone who cannot afford to pay for their water, obviously, is not worthy to drink.

    Always remember the first law of capitalism;
    Buy or Die

  2. That is of course perfectly true. And in this case, where the machines' paltry receipts can never cover their installation and running costs, clearly the powers that be think it is worth while to subsidise this public inconvenience in the name of capitalism :(

  3. Not so different in the West. Our brothers have learnt to disguise their tracks better.

    In Oklahoma, USA, I can get in to baseball games for $5.00 dollars. Great value, but water inside the venue is $4.50 for what is free out of a tap or $1.00 elsewhere.

    In Perth, Oistralia, The old Burswood Dome would host events such as a home show which were no more than a guise for making muggins pay for the privilege of looking at someone's advertising. At the same time, all the $1.50 drink dispensing machines were switched off and disconnected so we have to purchase from the $4.00 authorised thieves.

  4. It's crazy. Someone has to maintain and stock the machines. Someone has to pick up the discarded plastic bottles (because people here are not renowned for responsible disposal). All completely unnecessary.


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