Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Some pots

One of the girls is having a birthday - hope she likes these pots!

My art teacher, Rebecca, is teaching me about perspective so this was a practice. I can tell they are round so I hope you can!
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Flamingos again

Well here are some more flamingos - I just like them really! This is my first piece in acrylics and I am not too sure of this medium at all - stumbling through it really. So expect that things will improve as I practice more. Ron says it is a great start. I'll take it to my art class and ask how I can improve my technique....I guess it is just practice, practice, practice...like most things!
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Saturday, 17 November 2007

An Arabian Fairytale Part Three: The Princess attends a wedding.

After the eventful weekend at the camel races the princess returned to the desert camp to face the reality of the week ahead. The day after the camel races she started the real work of supporting the Sheikh and providing the household with travel funds. Already there are plans for a trip to Cairo and then off to Italy – the Sheikh has suggested the princess may need to independently fund the travel program while he takes care of the bigger issues in the financial sector!

The desert camp has many places where the members of the local tribes can be educated. The pinnacle of learning, the ivory tower, the hallowed halls of wisdom are located at the Islamic Institute, the Men’s College of the United Arab Emirates University. The Princess was attracted to this calm and enriching environment and offered to provide her services to the Human Resources Department to assist in the professional development of the staff. Her offer was accepted and she commenced work the day after the races.

On the first day she met an honored and esteemed wise man who was teaching his craft. He weaved stories strange and wondrous for three days. The Princess attended the teachings and met up with many people from across the world that had come to hear him preach on the art of “Recruitment and Selection”. It was a very different perspective from one the Princess had heard before, with a distinctly local flavor. Discussions of ‘wasta’ (nepotism) and strange ethics and different approaches….the Princess was aghast and bemused!

Throughout the week the Princess met with people from Somalia, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; from Canada, America, Britain and France; from all the Gulf countries and Northern Africa. And she met some local people, Emiratis, who made her feel very welcome indeed. In fact one young woman, Shamma, veiled and swathed in black from head to toe, asked if the Princess would attend the wedding of her brother on the Thursday of that week. “Bring your friends”, she said, “Not just one but two. All are welcome, come, come, come!”

What to wear? What to buy as a gift? The hareem had discussions late into the night and shopped at the Al Ain Mall till they could stand no more. Nerissa of Victoria and Moraig of Kiwiland accompanied the Princess. They arrived at the wedding in their finery and were greeted by Shamma. She was in a long evening dress of white organza with layers of purple frills and flounces. No abbaya or shayla and just a delicate purple wrap around her shoulders. What a transformation! The Princess would never have recognized her – no longer the shy veiled girl from the office, but a worldly woman with confidence and poise.

The evening passed with yet another large platter of goat (cooked whole) and continuous servings of pastries and biscuits, coffees and teas, perfumes and bakhoor. Dancers had been hired to perform and a singer entertained the all woman audience. Bedouin Emerati women filled the tables in their burqah with hennaed hands and painted palms or dressed in sensational western styled gowns discreetly covered by gauzy overgowns. The walls of the celebration hall were lined with silk and gold; lights sparkled off every surface and a stage was set that emulated the court of Cleopatra with a catwalk and raised dancing area. The feasting went on into the night. The bride arrived escorted by her brother and was paid a visit by her father and cousins. It was strange having the men in the women’s tent and some of the more traditional women immediately covered their head, shoulders and arms and some left, upset that the men had come into the women’s environment. The bride sat terrified and shaking on the podium for all to see. It was a strange ritual and after some time the Princess and the ladies of the hareem left.

After a few days Shamma visited the Princess in her office and bestowed upon her some gifts – to thank her for coming to the wedding! A handbag, a dress and a candle – the Princess remains speechless and is sure there will be follow up to this installment of the Arabian fairytale.

PS. There will be no photos of the wedding – they were not allowed! Although there was an official photographer and the Princess has ways and means……….we will see!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Some pictures of the camel races

Here are just a few of the sights at the camel races recently. At the Hospitality tent - VIPs only of course, the Sheik and one of the hareem get some hands on experience with the local tucker (baked goat meat) - No carving knives - so do your best with what you have! That's Nerissa on the right, and Ismail with his son Yunis.Back behind the race track, there is a small culltural village with lots of things happening. Below you see Cheryl (the Princess) with one of the camels; a local weaver, busy on a rug; and some boys tending their falcons.

Trackside, there is more entertainment, with some tradtitional dancing.
But the most amazing feats of the day were still to come.

Picture, if you will, a dozen camels racing towards you - appearing in the distance out of the dust cloud. Then picture appearing out of the haze and racing beside them, oblivious of all around, two dozen landcruisers, a camera truck and two tourist buses - all racing alongside the camels, lest they miss one bit of the race.

And then, after the finish line, the boy riders leap from their backs to mix with all and sundry on the track, with the camels (now riderless) still thundering through to their handlers. And surveying all, a local Bedouin, rifle in hand, in the guests of honour seating (keeping an eye on his camel I suppose?)