The Magic of Altered Perceptions
This story was submitted by Sue Kindred to the Stories of Travel collection as part of the May SEEQ sessions.
Travel is magical. It changes us from the inside out. I was on my second trip to the Middle East, this time to Dubai. I was about 48 at the time. I knew from my first trip that the people would be lovely and gracious, warm and welcoming. I also knew from hard won experience that I shouldn’t extend my hand to a man for a handshake and if he did offer to shake my hand, to let mine just lie there and not pump it like a well handle. Experience is often hard won but is the mother of great stories.
This was a business trip and my colleagues and I had so many things planned on the vacation portion of this trip… my first ride on a camel, dune bashing (which is free wheeling up dunes in a jeep) houka smoking, belly dancing and more. But, by far my most impactful moment of the trip was when I decided to get a full sleeve henna tattoo on my right arm. The tattoo artist was so lovely and shared stories of her family and about growing up in Dubai. We were seaside which was beautiful and while it was hot, the breeze was lovely. The result was stunning.
I loved the look of my new temporary tattoo. Such an amazing souvenir of a wonderful, magical, place and time. The impact of my new tattoo hit after I came home (henna tattoos last about 6 weeks) with the reactions from friends, family and strangers. From “man, that’s a rad tattoo, lady” to “why in the name of hell would you do something like that? “
Fast forward about 10 years. I’m having a conversation with a young man at a networking event who expressed a desire to visit Dubai and so I mentioned that I’d been. He asked me what it was like so I shared a bit of my story. His response was perfect… “wow, and you look so normal and everything. “
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