Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Arabian Sands

Life as I know it right now is: Work – Home – Late Dinner – Working at Home – Sleep – and the cycle begins the next morning. My yoga practice has been sorely neglected, although I still manage to read a little a few nights every week.

I have been reading The Prisoner and The Fugitive the past few weeks. In spite of my good intentions, I doubt I will be able to finish the Proustian epic before the end of 2008.

Instead, I left Marcel aside for the moment and picked up Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands. 2010 will be the centenary of Thesiger’s birth.

Thesiger was born in the capital of Abyssinia, Addis Ababa. He was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he boxed his way to a degree. He was also a great explorer who spent five years exploring the ‘Empty Quarter’ of Arabia, living among the Bedu people. He wore their clothes, ate what they ate, lived their daily challenge of hunger and thirst, walked long marches under the ruthless sun. 

From the Prologue of Arabian Sands:

A cloud gathers, the rain falls, men live; the cloud disperses without rain, and men and animals die. In the deserts of southern Arabia there is no rhythm of the seasons, no rise and fall of sap, but empty wastes where only the changing temperature marks the passage of the year. It is a bitter, desiccated land which knows nothing of gentleness or ease. Yet men have lived there since earliest times. Passing generations have left fire-blackened stones at camping sites, a few faint tracks polished on the gravel plains. Elsewhere the winds wipe out their footprints. Men live there because it is the world into which they were born; the life they lead is the life their forefathers led before them; they accept hardships and privations; they know no other way. Lawrence wrote in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, ‘Bedouin ways were hard, even for those brought up in them and for strangers terrible: a death in life.’ No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match.

Can you tell I am enthralled?

2 comments:

Carl V. said...

Perhaps it is just me but I read the description of your life and then the title of the book and thought that it seemed like an apt description of what you are going through right now. :)

Dark Orpheus said...

Carl - Thankfully, I'm not so much exposed to the desert and I'm not starving. But Dubai is an experience.