April 2016

- The sand so hot -

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Air-conditioned rooms and cars, abundant water, lush greenery: one can almost forgot that Abu Dhabi is located in the desert, when visiting this ultra-modern city. Palm trees line the road to Al Ain, which leads straight through one of the hottest places in the world, yet grow so lush and dense, as if they were designed to obscure the view of the desert. Halfway, however, the sand dunes arch high above the palm trees and form waves in bright colours of yellow-golden-brown-orange on both sides fascinatingly beautiful, going deep into the horizon. This is where I wanted to stop - and was lucky because there was a car park, empty and left deserted.

"Are you sure you want to paint just now - it's midday," my son Bruno pointed out. "Oh come on, it won’t be that hot," I replied. But rarely have I been so wrong. I opened the door - and from the coolness of the car we entered into an oven. The air was thick and burning in the lungs, as if we were in the immediate vicinity of a gigantic fire. "I'm going up there to paint," I said, pointing to the small hill behind the parking lot. Hat on my head, paint box on my arm, brush in hand: but after a few steps I felt the scorching sand through my sandals and started promptly with my painting.

But the painting could not be done by hand: the brush, which I had just dipped into the water and then into the paint dried on its way back to the paper. My metal painting set heated rapidly and burned on my forearm. And then the soles of my shoes felt like they were on fire. I finally gave up and ran jumping up and down the few meters to the parking lot. I gratefully accepted Bruno’s offer to provide shade by standing behind me, and painted the last strokes of the painting more relaxed. Finally, we returned and sat in the air-conditioned car to Abu Dhabi, quenched our thirst with cold water without end, listening to Arab music on the radio. I had to think with a deep respect of the Bedouin. The day before I saw old black and white photos of them walking barefoot over the dunes, but only now did I realize: sand can be hot. Hellish hot. Hot as a cigarette’s embers.

 

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