Salam Alaikum! (That’s a greeting in Arabic).
It’s official… one of the best ways to celebrate New Year’s is in the desert. Last night/this morning was my second New Year in the desert. the first one consisted of a typical desert safari. Ever been on one?
Well, it’s basically a party in the chilly desert at night, in a Bedouin camp. There’s an enclosure surrounded by tents under which there are loads of cushions and really short tables to sit around; there’s a huge dance floor in the centre and many long tables along the sides for the food! Of course, camels are seated in the corner, happily resting and taking a poop while waiting to take the next person to sit on the large cushion strapped on their backs for a short walk on the cold sand. The empty spaces in the enclosure are dotted with a few traditional cooks, making local delicacies like the delicious and warm syrup covered dumplings that melt in your mouth.
The party really starts when the belly-dancer arrives. She enchants all those around her with her fluid movements, long hair blowing in the wind and hips swaying to the beautiful rhythms of Arabian music. The dance floor opens up to all, and the rest of the night passes by in the blink of an eye as the music consumes us and we lose ourselves in the sea of pulsating beats among the strangers. The only thing that links us the music that intoxicates out minds.
This year, however, New Year’s was celebrated in the desert over the flames of a crackling bonfire and the glowing charcoal of a fiery barbecue pit, surrounded by family and friends. Loud music was played from the cars, blankets were spread over the cold sand, jokes were cracked, memories were recalled and reunions were made. We saw the brilliant fireworks show from the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, and more fireworks from all the cities around us. The biting cold wind was locked out as a bubble of warmth from the flames and comradeship surrounded us. Apple flavoured smoke from the bubbling sheesha (hookah) swirled in intricate tendrils, as if painted in the wind from the brush and palette of a nostalgic Bedouin. The night passed in laughter and dance and we left behind, lingering in the night wind, a memory filled with happiness.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year… May 2011 be filled with new experiences, love and all the bliss in the world!
Kul Sana W’antum Tayyibeen. (May every year bring you happiness).