Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Story of a Picture

Moments after Kimber snaps this picture (via Skype) of me basking under the warm Doha sun - as if in punishment for rubbing coveted Middle Eastern brilliance into my daughter's chilly Middle American day...a blowing, gusting sand drenched wind spits kernals of dry stuff onto my resort-style patio.  I retreat to the confines of my cozy living room where the wind - and sand - take a backseat to the sun in all its clear skied glory.  Do I go to the beach today?

Well, what would you do?

To the beach, of course.  Before I can exit the hotel's warm parking lot and step into the bright Doha afternoon, beach security stops me.  "Pass?" he says.  He wears a winter coat, hood - and a paper face mask. He doesn't know me; he's new.  I show him my room key and he waves me on.  Does he roll his eyes and shake his head? Maybe.

The hem of my cotton sundress snaps at my knees.  Hair blows in my face.  Goosebumps tickle my skin.  How can the sun be so warm when the wind is so bitter, biting cold?

Sand may be fickle, but it tells the truth when it comes to the sun.  Sand does not engage in wind's lying game. When sun is warm - so is sand.  When sun is chill, sand is cold. Sand absorbs and radiates heat, whenever heat is present.  Hot sand trumps all, even a cold, cruel wind.  And hot sand against naked toes means stinging, pinching flotsam that's whipped into the sky against its will...is forgiven.

Along the shoreline, umbrellas are pinned closed and beach chairs lie higgledy piggledy.  Tide is drawn to sea and buoys rest on the smooth wet bank.  No sun bathers.

The wind is cold but...the beckoning surf.  The glittering water.  The rolling swells. And the sun!!  Oh, the sun!

Well, what would you do?

I pull a chaise to the relative shelter of one of Doha's ever present construction barriers.  I place one towel under me and another around me.  I pull out today's Arabic lesson.  Whine away wind, I do not belong to you.  Yallah, emshee; go away.

A beach attendant approaches my little alcove.  "Tekellam Araby?" I say.

"No, I do not speak Arabic," he replies...in English.

"Enta min wain?" I persist in the "official" language no one seems to speak.

"I'm from Sri Lanka," he says. He smiles and is silent, but I hear him anyway:

Crazy American!

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