Saturday, August 05, 2006

Once Upon An Arabian Night...

If the past few weeks have been a journey of discovering clues to past lives, then i must say I have some very strong hints! If not the maharajas rebel daughter, one who might have ridden out on horseback during times of war and just as comfortably adorned the silks and rubies of the time, I believe i might also have been a queen of the desert in another lifetime! lol. Dubai, serves on the pinnacle of middle-eastern commercial civilisation. But theres more. Behind the teeming structural development and the hype that is the Emirates, there is the soul of the desert. Our plan to venture into the heart of the desert can be well appreciated in retrospect. Armed with the spontaneous thrill of adventure, we booked with a guided tour operator to spend half a day out in the the middle of, well, nowhere really. A Desert Safari.
On arrival in Dubai, 8pm Tuesday evening, the weather report stated 38 degrees celcius. Lucky for us, the few days we were there turned out pretty pleasant weather going into a maximum of the mid-fourties, as opposed to somewhere unpleasant in the usual fifties! Humidity factors made the evenings far more unbearable. The desert experience was quite different. We were picked up in town at about 4:00pm. Our respected driver and tour guide was a pleasant and talented Iranian called Ahmad. And our fellow tour group consisted of a Systems Administrator called Raul of Ecuador :) and Kevin the American, from Miami (of 99% humidity, we're told). And we consist of a rather enlightening threesome.. that would be Little Brother of Kimya, Cousin F and of course, me. To say a little about Cousin F, would be to do no justice. Cousin F is one of the most resourceful teenagers I know. And living out in Dubai has taught him some rather peculiar things, to say the least. Little Brother, was only too delighted to find the company of said American, Kevin. His first intent was to ascertain whether or not Kevin voted for/supported Bush. Of course not. No educated, world-travelling American in their right minds would support him! Thats our democratic right, Kev says. Oops. The combination was both potentially lethal and immensely entertaining! And the last passenger to be picked up from the Swedish quarter, was The Iraqi Kid. A guitarist. And a mousy man of oh-too-few words. Hence the mysterious title. Fullstop. And this is how our safari began. An Iranian guide. A North American. A South American. An Iraqi living in Sweden. Two South Africans. And Cousin F: a feisty multi-identity teen whose lived in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and now in the Emirates, and comes equipped with the multiple languages, attitudes and nuances that characterize this colourful multiplicity. An acute picture of global theatre of sorts.
The drive through toward the Sharjah precinct was anything but unusual for desert intercity travel. Mounds of cuppaccino desert sprawled for acres around us, and with the setting sun, these glowed as they turned shades of pink. For me, this was quite a contrast to the Namib deserts porcelain white features. We rode quad-bikes out in the Sahara last year in Swakopmund, and that was a spectacular story of its own! White sands lie beside an azure blue ocean; an immaculate picture. The sun on my face brings me back to the salmon pink sands around me. This time, instead of quad-bikes, we are driven in Land Cruisers. Its an hour to the desert camp, and dune-bashing is a thrill of a ride! One minute, we're climbing seemingly impossible dunes, or riding a paper-thin ridge of a hill and the next second we're sliding sideways down an almost 90degree slope! all the while kicking up a storm of dust around us! Wow.
The shouts and screams of thrilled adventure seekers are punctuated by a vEry qUiet Kid, i.e. The Iraqi. His dead silent the whole time. We stop at the precipice of a mega-dune, surrounded by an ocean of sand and dunes, now turning dusky shades of autumn as the sun sets ahead of us. Magnificent! I wonder of the Bounties of Our Maker, the Master Painter of such grand masterpieces. And we move onward, inching closer to camp. Fifteen minutes, Ahmad assures us. The Kid speaks for the first time, urgently pleading: "Stop the car", jumps out as we come to a hault, and throws up. He stumbles weakly for a second and taking a minute, regains his composure and returns to the 4X4. Okay. The next ten minutes to the camp turn out to be pretty quiet, accept for Cousin F's MP3 player. Actually even the musics taken on a sombre mood after blaring out some viby dune-bashing kick-start tunes for the last hour or so.. The cars trudge on, headlights glaring out like gold dust on the creamy sands.
Camp is aglow with fired torches, belly dancers, persian daise and rugs for sitting around and smoking hookah pipes.. Just like in the Arabian Nights stories I read as a little girl. An old woman approaches me, as the only female in our group, and offers to apply an intricate henna tattoo on my hand. I love henna, and so I'm delighted! Sheesh kebabs and a barbeque roasts in one corner, and a curio shop lures us to eye its wares. A group of pale German tourists look differently ravishing in the Arabic garb they've decided to sample. Pictures are taken. Little Brother dares Kevin to take some of the same and replace his passport photos with the likes of a new and cultured identity. Lol. Poor Kev. His really not a Bush supporter, he re-iterates. He really doesnt support the decision to bomb Iraq and Lebanon. But Hezbollah is a coward, he says. He shouldnt hide behind innocent people and make them all suffer, Kev says. Thats why the innocents are suffering. Okay, says Little Bro, after a puff of the cherry-flavoured pipe, so Hamas should be out in the middle of Washington if they want to be assured of not getting bombed? Sigh. Cousin F has the pleading look of confused exasperation in his eyes. Like, guys! Really!?
I am in a world of my own. The Ocean, the Skyes and the Desert derive the same sentiment for me. Endlessness. Eternity. As is this Journey of Living.

6 comments:

zee said...

wow - u seemed to have a lovely time - especially with the bunch u had on your tour!

how were the belly dancers?

and how was the open sky with the moon being the only source of light for miles and miles?

kimya said...

:) this chicken pox thing is real good for you, i see! still managing to keep the spirits raised, hmm..

the belly dancers were russian, and beautiful, and talented.. u can get the clips from my brother if u wish..

as for the open skye.. they did, at one point b4 we left camp, turn out all the lights and torches just so we could view the night sky for speckled stars and a far off glimpse of the moon :)

a picture of eternity, a memory worth treasuring..

Ruby :) said...

reading ur entry, brought back wonderful memories of my Dune-bashing experience. (i even had the henna tattoo done, and danced with the belly-dancers). I also went on the "tour of the emirates' that takes u through all seven emirates, until the border of Oman.. but i preferred the desert-safari!!!

kimya said...

lol, in that case, Ruby, get urself ready to join us wen we go back to namibia!!! u get to ride the quad-bikes urself, and oh wHat a thrilling jOyriDe!!!

ciao

Ruby :) said...

I love holidays, anywhere... count me in anytime..

::: SPEEDY ::: said...

mmmm .salaams just reading the dubai bit..... seems like u had fun here..when next venturing here drop me a line..and ill arrange the other tours for u .... better than the 'safari'.whos F living here in dubai ??? let him drop me a line too