Stuck in a desert, pursuing that perfect shot

Originally written for Gulf News Off the Cuff:

My eyes scanned the skies somewhat anxiously. It was going to be sundown soon and if I didn’t locate the entrance to the lovely little man-made lake on my right, I would miss the opportunity to get photographs of the stunning sunset along the water.

Now why would someone create such a beautiful lake and gate it up from all sides? Surely there must be an entrance, I thought to myself. I felt like Sherlock Holmes on a hunt as I manoeuvred the car into a long, deserted lane. The children asked if I knew where I was going. “Of course,” I replied smugly, as though nothing could be more obvious. The winding lane carried us further and further inside and suddenly all there was in front was a dead end.

“Mom, I think you should turn back now,” my older one advised sensibly. Just as I was about to turn the car back, I spotted something. In the distance, I could make out the water dazzling spectacularly in the late-afternoon sun. What a pretty sight. We were only a few yards away from the entrance, surely. This was no time to heed the warnings of a little child. Being the photography enthusiast that I am, I thought that the perfect captures I would get of the departing sun, setting the rippling waters alight would be every bit worth my trouble.

The road ended where the desert started, but as I noticed car tracks in the gravel, I gathered that the sand was probably hard enough to go through even though our car wasn’t a four-wheel drive. As soon as I ventured into the lonely desert, the car began to wobble strangely. I realised the sand wasn’t quite as firm as it had appeared and that the misleading tracks were probably left by four-wheel drives. So I decided to exit the area. But a wrong turn here and little too much speed there and — bam! We were stuck in the desert, with no car or person in sight and sundown approaching fast.

“Mom, are we going to be okay? Can you call Baba?” the children asked.

“Yes, of course we’re going to be okay,” I said, perspiring heavily and feeling quite apprehensive myself. I wondered if I should call the better half and tell him I was stuck in a remote place where there wasn’t a soul — because I drove into soft sand whilst pursuing the perfect photograph. And then I would tell him: “Oh by the way, I don’t know what this place is called, although I’m quite certain we’re near Emirates Road.” I put off the call for a bit and decided to see what could be done.

I gingerly stepped out of the car and with all my might tried to remove some of the sand that the front wheels were engulfed in. Then I tried to drive away. Alas, we only got stuck deeper into the sand. I finally made the call to my husband and hoped he would somehow find us with the minimal directions I gave him. I graciously decided to overlook his rampant overuse of the word “crazy”.

In the meantime, the girls and I walked on to the road to look for help. A little further away, the door of a villa was left ajar and a family was enjoying tea on the porch. I related what had happened, and the kind people invited us inside and offered us a drink.

After waiting for the better part of an hour, help finally came. A big white four-wheel drive belonging to the family towed us out of our abyss in the desert and a deep sense of relief washed over me. Right then I heard the faint call of a nearby mosque signalling that the sun had set.

Before I conclude it seems worthwhile to mention that this incident happened a few weeks back. The day before yesterday, I decided to take the girls to a park we had never explored fully before. And would you believe what we found there? An entrance that took you to a very familiar man-made lake. I did get the sunset shots over the lake after all!


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