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Published: January 6th 2015
Sometimes you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you act like you know what you are doing and people believe you. Then, sometimes there is just plain ol' good luck. I don't know what twist of fate we were granted, maybe a little bit of all three. Either way, we are not questioning things, just enjoying ourselves!
On New Year's Eve, dad and I were up to our usual low-key evening activities of sipping on lemon-mint juice in the bar, people watching, reading the newspaper and uploading photos from the day. The hotel was abuzz because of the festivities planned for the new year.
I left the bar to go to the restaurant and was approached by a man I had noticed everyday we had been at the festival. He was with the media and seemed to be in charge of the camera crew and broadcasters. He was the guy who was always putting a microphone in front of the big winners at the end of each day.
I had never spoken to him, but he obviously recognized me. It's not like there were any other caucasian females hanging around among
the elite camel owners everyday! (It is not easy to blend in around this community or in the camel pens when you are a white woman who wears pants!)
He said there was going to be a conference about the first book ever written detailing how to judge a camel's beauty and he wanted to know if I wanted to attend. Seriously? You had me at camel!
The part that made me laugh, when he stumbled "you can also bring your...partner...er...colleague..." I smiled and said, "oh, you mean my dad." The ever common sigh of relief washed over his face.
For years, we have made it a point let anyone we are talking to know that he is my dad or that I am his daughter. Even when the language barrier is so great that we must rely on hand gestures, we get the point across and the response is always the same. A look of relief. The awkward assumption is that I am his wife. I want to say, "geez people, take a look at us. Is there any question I am his daughter?" Oh well.
So, of course dad and I happily gathered our
stuff and raced to the room where the press conference was being held. We assumed people thought we were with the media because no tourists were hanging around the festival for 9 days and sometimes when we sat in the grandstands, I took time to jot notes in my journal.
So, our plan was to act like we were journalists, armed with notepads and our serious faces! It wasn't hard to get into character because we were approached earlier in the day by a journalist from The National, the UAE's English newspaper, who proposed we write an article about our perspective of the festival from a tourist's viewpoint.
The press conference was a formal affair held in a fancy room with a big spread of food and drinks (score!). There were 12 other journalists in attendance and too many camera guys to count. There were two females in attendance. We recognized them from local television.
The festival is covered nearly 24 hours per day and when we were not in attendance, we watched it in our room or in the bar. (Trust us, there is not a lot of great tv in the UAE.) And, yes, when
we were watching it, we occassionally saw ourselves on tv (no autographs, please).
The press conference was a hybrid between a press release and a book release, but probably more formal than either of those in the USA. When the author walked in, everyone stood up (except the females) and shook hands with the author, exchanged pleasantries or received a stoic, acknowledging head nod.
The entire event was in Arabic and so were the press releases we were given. Whoops, didn't think about that. Oh well, we were great at faking it until one of the guys who seemed to be coordinating the event approached and whispered in my ear as I was taking notes "do you understand Arabic?" I had to disappoint him with the truth, but he didn't seem to mind and scurried around in search of someone to interpret.
When the author first walked into the room, I turned to dad and said, "I think I know that guy." Dad was polite, but I know I sounded stupid. But I kept having this nagging feeling that I had seen him before.
So when the authors finished answering questions, the tv media began the
process of getting interviews and film.
We took the opportunity to take a closer look at the book. It was the most beautifully bound book I had ever seen, and not just because it was filled with photos of camels. The copy we were looking at was #9 in a limited edition of 500 and it was being sent to the Royal Family after the conference. The details were in gold, it was housed in a study box with a gold camel on it and not a detail was missed. The best part, the entire book is written in Arabic, French and English!
At the conclusion of the interviews, the author approached and thanked us for attending. He introduced himself to my dad and as dad was explaining we owned camels in the The States, yada yada, the author interrupted, turned to me and said "yes, I know. We have already met at the camel auction." (I knew it!! I was not crazy!!) I quickly saved face, acted like I had already realized the connection and said to dad, "this is the man I told you about who has been raising racing camels from embryo transplants." Funny how
those little connections happen.
So, next year, when the book is finally released to us commoners (the 500 limited edition copies are already accounted for royalty, camel VIPs and such), you can expect to see it on my Christmas List!
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