As I turned around to go back, I realized I had come quite far from the tent and could not see the light of the car or the fire lit around the tents. The music that was loud enough to bare, became quite faint as I kept walking. The vastness of the desert engulfs you and your thoughts. You fall in love with nature all over again.
As much fearless as I was before I started, I was terrified of finding my way back. I looked around and could see only darkness. I was standing in the middle of nowhere, in a desert with no one around let alone at arm’s distance. I felt scared and alone but walking aimlessly gives you a unique sense of freedom because you are not trying to reach anywhere. There is no time frame or deadline or rat race for which you must compete. Trust me, the feeling is liberating in its own sense.
Coming back to where I was, I didn’t want to ruin my trip and get lost for no reason. So I started walking fast without looking back. The faster I was walking, the more tired I felt. Walking in the dunes is not easy. For some strange reason, I felt that someone was behind me. Doesn’t that happen with us when we walk in the dark or turn back to walk from where we came?
After few minutes, I took a sigh of relief as soon as I saw the car lights at a distance. Though I was still far, but it gave me hope. At least I was going in the right direction. I shouted and some of them came towards me. I ran to them and had some water. My sense of adventure could have cost me tonight. I thanked my stars for bringing me back safely. Though there were other group members still out for a midnight stroll, I sat near the fire and warmed up as it was getting cold now.
The weather was pleasant and my sole purpose was to spend a night as Bedouin. The term ‘Bedouin’ in the Arabic language refers to one who lives out in the open, in the desert. This was my first night camping trip with a group I knew nothing about. All the members were of different countries and ethnicities. The only thing common was that we all were expats in Dubai and wanted a social life which was fun and adventurous at the same time while the weather permits.
We selected a spot in Al-Ain desert which is around 100 km from Dubai and arranged to tie-up with a local person and a police officer to be safe with directions. A four-wheel drive is a must to go for such picnics at any time of the day. Traditional Bedouin tents are made of goats’ hair but mine was bought from Carrefour for just 50 AED which also included a sleeping bag.
To create the right atmosphere, we got the born fire started and had put mats around to sit and enjoy some drinks. The music was ready with car lights and speakers tuned to full volume on Arabic beats. Sitting by fire, enjoying my char grilled chicken with beer and sharing ghost stories was the perfect kind of night out I was looking for. The more the merrier is the rule for such trips. Unlimited story-telling, dancing and singing went on till 3 in the morning after which I took a back seat.
Before squeezing into my tent, I observed with silence, around, the darkness of the sky, some trees scattered at a distance, the wind was cool and the sand soothed my bare feet. Lying under the stars I missed my childhood when we used to sleep on the terrace during summer vacations. I went off to sleep past 3 am but was woken up at 6:30 with a hot cup of Sulemani Chai.
What else can you ask for in the middle of a desert. Desert sunrise is not to be missed. To top it up, there were camels of the local people and they offered us free rides to our cars that were parked where the road begins.
When you travel, you meet new people and when you meet them, you share a part of their life. I returned with so many parts of other’s life and left behind a part of me with them.
Never miss an opportunity to explore while you can!
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