Sometimes, you need to get away from the same old routine
Sunday 07 March 1999
Why? It is because we all need to act the bedouin from time to time. Riding a camel over a distant horizon will, I am assured, put me in touch with the nomad and the hunter-gatherer deep inside me. It is about remembering that the sun shines in the day and the moon in the night. It is about not having to answer the telephone a hundred times a day. It is also, funnily enough, about discovering what made Genghis Khan tick and why the Great wall of China had to be built.
Except that at this rate my camel-trek will probably be rained off. Which gets me wondering what attitude self-respecting camels have to rain - I suspect it makes them feel terribly insecure and useless. What is the good in having spent millions of years investing in a giant water barrel on your back when there is plenty of water lying around everywhere in any case? The poor animals might as well look for jobs as wine critics in Saudi Arabia.
It must be the same for the bedouin. These are the people whose area of special expertise lies in surviving drought, sunshine and sand storms, whose spiritual energies are devoted to coping with the bitterness of impermanence, when they are not breaching other peoples' Great Walls of China. But when they look out of their tent flaps in the morning and realise that the desert has today turned into a nicely watered piece of agricultural land and tomorrow will be blooming like an Amsterdam flower festival - what on earth are they to supposed to make of it?
No doubt they will ask themselves all the usual tough questions about the nomadic life. Is the ability to ride for 19 days without water, or to face off a 100mph sand storm, really a more useful asset than being able to manage a medium-sized grocery-export business for example?
And by the time - say a fortnight later - that the desert is full of fat-tailed sheep and ripening tropical fruit even the thought of owning things like fridges and electric ice-cream makers will begin to seem rather less embarrassing than before. But a leaking piece of woven camel hair draped over a frame of sticks might no longer look like such a great place to spend the night.
The next stage is they'll be dropping out from bedouin society altogether. Instead of rugs designed to be rolled up and bunged on the back of a camel, they will acquire wall-to-wall carpeting; instead of water-skins they will have bottles of French mineral water. All in all, they look like finding the repressed urbanites deep inside themselves long before I ever find a single nomad. By the way, has anyone seen my umbrella?
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
A380 celebrates first decade in flight - but how long will the Superjumbo's time in the sky last?
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
12 best hotels in London
The most powerful passports in the world
The 10 Best hiking boots
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...
£20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...
£17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...