Of the many experiences I expected to have while living in Qatar, a most unlikely one was made available to me last week that I had never previously considered. Through the magic and generosity of the company social club, I was able to participate in a Camel Decorating Class. Yes, you're reading that right. Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that I'm just not creative enough to make this stuff up. Plus, I've got the photos to prove it. Be forewarned that my self-appointed Editor-in-Residence questioned whether I had a enough material to write a whole blog on the subject. But, since our marriage is mostly based on competition, rivalry, and a series of "I-told-you-so's", I'd be remiss if I didn't give it a try. Just skip through all the gratuitous anecdotes that don't pertain to the subject. Plus, I can stretch it out longer when I use words like 'gratuitous' and 'anecdote'.
How hard could it be? I thought. A glue gun, some scissors and a naked camel as my canvas, and I expected to be done well within the four-hour time period allotted to us. However, three and a half hours later, with fingers scarred from hot glue, sweat dripping from my brow, and my left eye twitching uncontrollably, I was finally able to declare my camel suitably outfitted for an Arabian night on the town, a casual lunch at the souqs, or a life-long existence on the corner table in my dining room.
Lucia, the Committee Chair of Camel Bling, spent a lot of time at the souqs finding just the right items to decorate our camels, and she did a great job. Each of the 12 participants was given a bag filled with tiny wicker baskets, brass jewellery boxes, beads, coins, carpets and buttons. There was also a table with items to share, such as nutmeg, ribbon, cinnamon sticks and frankincense (yes, real frankincense!). It's unclear what my camel's religious persuasion was before the makeover, but he has apparently converted to Islam as he now sports a tiny gold-coloured Qur'an.
Not wanting our camels to be uncomfortable, we each put a small woven blanket over their backs, which would serve as a 'saddle', to which we glued all the other items. But first, each tiny vessel (basket, vase, box) needed to be filled with even tinier things (pearls, coins, seeds), and each of those things had to be glued in place. Now, in the event of a freak camel mishap, the goods are going to be secure. Then, wielding our glue guns, we attached all the baskets, etc. to the blanket. Now I think the only thing he needs to make him look like the genuine article is a set of false eyelashes. Shopper's Drugmart Online, here I come!
The Camel Naming Contest is now open, and I welcome your suggestions. The kids have already named him Iowa (don't ask, it just sounds cool when you say it the way they do). Personally, I like the name that Dan and I came up with after a miscommunication between us, like a game of Telephone gone bad (or good, depending on your perspective): Mike Hamel. If this doesn't do it for you, try saying it three times fast. Sort of looks like a Mike, don't you think?