All you need is love, love…
A pic taken from my phone during the drive in to work — before I get to the mountains I wrote about below.
Happy Late Valentine’s Day! Another year spent away from my man and family, but luckily I have my friends/family here. I went to my second painting party in Al Ain (when will I ever just come to grips with the fact that I’m not an artist) and then pigged out on the cheesiest stuffed pizza with my neighbour while watching a brutal episode of Vice. So cheesy and bloody was how we chose to spend the day, and it worked. Plus, we now all have paintings of camels that look like dinosaurs or mutated dogs hanging on our walls —- yay us!
In celebration of Valentines Day, though, I’d like to send you my version of something nice. I can’t send chocolate or roses, but I can give snippets of the every-day things I love here. Sadly, some of the most beautiful things I witness cannot be photographed, but I’ll try to do a better job of painting by using my words.
Things I see from my balcony
- There’s an Arabic couple with two boys who walk together almost nightly. Many times the mom leads the pack with her abaya flapping behind her while her husband meanders with their sons. Sometimes its mom and dad together while the boys kick up dust devils. This morning, early, for the first time I saw mom and dad alone walking side by side. I don’t know these people, but I love seeing how much they love each other —- just in the way they walk.
- Sometimes a teenage boy sits cross legged in the shade of the anaemic trees across the street from my place, and he just reads for hours. I haven’t seen him in awhile, but he always captures the escape of reading for me, and I hope I get to watch him again soon. He reminds me of how much power and good our words can hold.
- In the same vein and not something I loved at first, when the weather cools to humane, at night men gather on the patch of grass in the middle of the roundabout that leads to my place. They’re in tan, working man’s dish dashes. It creeped me out at first, but you see there’s a mosque just a few feet away from there, and I’ve come to realise this is where they can relax and bond with their brothers in between prayer. Why sit on the rocky, sandy side of things when there’s a patch of lush grass to enjoy? The road that encircles them is nothing but a thing.
Things I see while driving to work
- The sun timidly tapping the mountains that lead to Oman as she slowly rises to take control of the day. And trust me when she’s fully awake there is nothing timid about her.
- Those same mountains showing off their silhouettes during our foggy days —- demanding that we see them since the sand is not the only thing that adorns the desert.
- Although the sand sure does love to show off, especially on windy days when it imitates waves and snakes racing across the road.
- My favourite is watching the camels train for racing. We have several training tracks alongside the road that leads to my school. Yesterday a racer escaped and used the camel cross walk all by himself. He ran, but stopped first to give us all the stink eye, letting us know we better damn well stop our vehicles so he could get to the other side —- which he did.
- The romantic picture of this, and maybe one day I’ll stop to photograph it, is the camels running with their veil of dust blending in with the mist and rising sun. Inshallah one day I’ll post a pic.
- At home we shake hands when we first meet someone; here you do it every day. I’m such a girl in this case, but it warms my heart every time someone genuinely grabs my hand, smiles and says “Good Morning, Miss Bettina.” One day I will so miss hearing my name said with an Arabic accent. I like feeling like I belong here.
- My students voices (when they’re not trying to get out of English class), and oh my goodness the smiles that come with them. I have this at home too, and I’m so lucky my job includes the bond we develop with the young we learn from. (on the bad days I forget about this). I keep saying after this I’m done with teaching, but I don’t know that I can quit it just yet —- oh wait there’s the politics and paper trail part of it, but enough of that this is a ‘what I love” thread.
- The moments when we all get to be just women and girls together. Obviously it’s work, so these times are rare, but it’s great when all of we Western, Eastern, Somewhere In Between, souls get to laugh and bitch about what women have been laughing and bitching about for eons.
There’s more to share like all of the traveling and fun I have with my friends, but you’re probably tired of me posting about all of that, which won’t stop me from posting about it the next time I do something different. And, of course, there’s so much more to post, but you didn’t plop in here for a book. So, Happy Post Valentines Day, and lots and lots of hugs, kisses and hand shakes from me to you!
Another phone pic, which doesn’t do any of this justice, but you can see the mist rising from the desert. If only a team of camels ran by before the shutter finished!