After a couple of hours of driving buggies in the dunes of Abu Dhabi, I looked up as the sun quickly settled into the earth, whispers of orange dissipated as swiftly as they arrived and the hues of blue darkened.
The warm glow of the flames spread across the sand, etching out the curves in the dunes, and where they met the sky as we walked a path among the dunes, lined with flames lit on poles positioned equidistant to each other, leading to the open tent where dinner was to be served. A solid black soon covered us, the campfire sizzling away and the tall lights stretching further and further into the darkness. A feast was had roasting marshmallows and eating cakes, until the settling chill warned us it was time to leave.
What an intimate way to start a long weekend and the perfect prelude to the intensity that the Formula 1 would bring on the following day.
The next day, I waited for the cars to pass and the sound of friction, skidding and screeching to die down before ordering my coffee. Having attended Formula 1 only once two years ago — and that too by chance for a day — I am not much aware of it. But being there on the open rooftop, with the dramatic Yas Marina circuit under us, watching the cars skid and swerve adeptly, and simply immersing myself in the festive atmosphere, made the weekend even more thrilling. I realised how very similar the cars were to the toys we played with as kids. Only more mature, shinier and just a tad bit faster (over 300km per hour — is that even possible?)
Endless amounts of Indian and Lebanese food, salads, ice-creams and cupcakes, drinks and gummy bears were moving around. People were leaning over balconies, sitting on chairs eating ice-cream, taking pictures and mingling, waiting till the cars passed before conversing with each other.
The lights brightened as five became 6 o’clock and the darkness settled in with a calming unperturbed breeze. The race drew to an end while the city lights flickered in the distance — golden, red and the odd white.
Walking around to the other side, my eyes settled on the colourful beauty that is the Yas Viceroy. The colours shifting from indigo to red and then the letters viceroy sprinkling across the white sparkling surface; the reds and blues shimmering in the water below, yachts bobbing side by side, and people watching from inside the hotel, by the bar, on the balcony – everywhere. This one weekend of the year is as much about the racing as it is about partying in the yachts and clubs on the marina; and you can’t help but feel that this really is the place to be.
As I headed back to Dubai in the early hours of Monday, exhausted and in dire need of a massage, my only thoughts were these spectacular days: the quiet of the desert and the furore of the race, and above all, how colourful it all was and how pleasant the weather.
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