Sunday, April 3, 2016

Qatar: Beige is Beautiful!

Anniversary, 2016 in a cove, with sand all around us.
Enjoying the views of possibilities in the desert

Showing my son, Jonathan, a new definition of expansiveness.
Since I am wanderer these days as an expat, I am seeing with new eyes--colors of the world I have never seen before--in every possible hue of beige in Qatar. In Adam Gopnik's travel memoir,  Paris to the Moon, he defines two different kinds of travelers: "There is the kind who goes to see what there is to see and sees it, and the kind who has an image in his head and goes out to accomplish it. The first visitor has an easier time, but I think the second one sees more. He is constantly comparing what he sees to what he wants, so he sees with his mind, and maybe even with his heart, or tries to." Being an expat in Qatar has taught me about the importance of opening the possibilities of seeing new kinds of beauty. The catch? Just as Gopnik states, you have to have the optimistic perspective that there is splendor in expansive beiges. As a traveler, keep a hopeful image in your mind as you journey, and the sights will be more scenic, even majestic. Below are some paintings and a video that prove my point:

Taupe, beige, tan, brown, buff or oatmeal colored, all those neutral colors that can blend and blur together are surprisingly beautiful in a desert. In my time of being an expat in Qatar, I have learned to appreciate the desert on another level, and even the occasional bloom in the spring. The sun looms larger here on a flat horizon when there are no vertical slopes to peek over. The ever widening vastness beckons that there are endless possibilities because you see no obstacles or hindrances. Everything is possible in a beige desert, as long as you have your water and occasional shade--just as the wandering nomads of deserts have always known. Blogpost of  Celebrating Sand!

Last winter our friend, Steve Chamberlain, captured some of these scenes with his paintbrush. My husband took him on an "off the road' trip. When they returned, Steve painted almost non-stop for a week. Here are just a few of his paintings. You can see more about him at the blog: Residence Artist in Doha, Qatar  or check out his website: 

Steve, who had never painted in the Middle East, was enthralled with how to express his new love of painting more neutral, muted tones. The desert can open up a new level of creativity. Is it the boundlessness of the borders, the opening of a new world, seeing with new eyes? Perhaps it is the shedding of former thoughts/traditions that the sand has blown away? This picture hangs in my living room. It is not finished here, but I love the sunrise, with the hint of rainclouds in it. 
For many Qataris, a tent or a compound of tents is how they live during the winter months here. If you go out to the shorelines around Qatar, there are many people who spend the more temperate winter months by the beach. I love this picture that Steve painted of a tent in a windstorm. The stakes appear that they are anchored in the shifting sand, even in the billowing wind.

The beautiful shoreline of Zeekreet, Qatar
                    Check out Megan Hansen's Video of "Off the Road."  Megan captures the sublime serenity of the beautiful, beige desert.

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