This story has been submitted to the team by Ahmad Al Ghardaqa who has really shown that stories can truely be born from life expreinces when he submitted his story for the site
COMING from the United Arab Emirates to live in Australia, I had a lot to learn.
New language, new handwriting — but when the school announced that Year 10 students were going on a nine-day camp, I was totally confident. After all, when you are talking tents, you are talking Arab.
We have been tent experts for thousands of years. There are not many stones in the desert and if you can get a tree to grow there, you are not going to cut it down to build something. Goats, on the other hand, we have always had a lot of, so we make tents from their skins.
To Australians, a tent is a shelter. To us, it is a residence.
A traditional Arabian tent is home for up to 10 people. It has rooms, carpets, cushions, all the comforts of home (because it is home).
Tents are our tradition, our heritage. So I told Tom and Richard they were in good hands. Their friend Ahmed knows about tents.
But when we got our tent, I was shocked. Instead of huge poles and masses of material, the parcel was the size of a sleeping bag. “What is this?” I wondered. “A free sample?” That was the tent. We must put it up.
Well, OK. Maybe it was bigger than it looked.
Now, sand is great for camping. If a sand dune is not level, you can push it around and make it level. No sand at the campsite but plenty of rocks and tree roots. It would have taken a bulldozer to make this level. I found a spot but it looked a little slanted. Never mind. We got the tent up but there was a bit left over.
“What is this?” I asked.
“Rain sheet?” my friends suggested. I had never heard of such a thing. Rain is not really a problem in the desert. Surely it was a pad or carpet. So I put it on the ground.
That night we learned that the Australian idea of a three-person tent and an Arab’s idea
of a tent big enough for three are very different. We learned the bit left over was not a carpet, it was indeed a rain sheet (and it was raining). We learned that even a gentle slant causes three guys to roll down to the bottom of a tent and end up in a pile.
I loved caving, canoeing and even the 25km hike (with pack; without camel) on our nine-day camp. But, really, we still need to talk about these tents.
Written By: Ahmad Al Ghardaqa