I think if I had been on US soil, the Color run would not have seemed so very strange to me. It was, after all, just a family-friendly event, or maybe a rave, in the morning with paint: file it under low impact workout–if you can call it that–with lots of people, music and paint–seems normal enough to me. It was a great time. The Color Run took place on the Yas Formula One Circuit with great views of the water and the Viceroy Hotel. But because I was here in Abu Dhabi, I am all the more conscious of just how truly abnormal it is to do something like this. It’s ridiculously frivolous—that’s why it’s fun probably. In the moment, Running, jogging, and walking surrounded by men in tutus and people on stilts being doused in powdery paint is senseless and bizarre—qualities I very much admire in something to do. Upon leaving the confines of the rave run though, I was reminded how truly odd it was when I saw the looks on the faces of all the hard-working laborers you see in this country staring at those of us passing by. You had to wonder what these people were thinking about westerners.
Some were probably thinking thoughts such as this.
“These crazy people pay–what I earn in a few days, or perhaps a week–to run around a track and have people throw colored powder at them, ruin their clothes and get all dirty. WTH?
One such worker, that I greet often, looked bewildered when I passed by him walking up to my apartment looking so, well, “colored.” He said, “Ma’am, what happen?” He looked a little more humored than worried about my colorful dishevelment. I did look as though I had had a major accident in the paint section of a hardware store. Trying to sound convincing and ever easy to comprehend, I said, “It’s a “color run.” You run, and people throw colors at you. It’s just for fun. It’s fun?!” My voice rose as it grew more questioning. I gestured up and down with my hands big smiling, like look at me–Doesn’t this look fun? His face didn’t move, and his eyes continued to regard me with a mix of wonder and perhaps a smidgen of ridicule, as in, that doesn’t look fun. It was a you look that read you just plain look soiled kinda look. But, he’s a very nice guy, from whatever country, and why on earth would anyone want to look a mess, like this? I do get it. I was sweaty, stinky and caked in drying, peeling off paint that stains a bit. He did not understand. I am not sure I do either entirely, but I’d do it again happily.
There are some things you never really get used to seeing in a foreign country and, dually things the natives will probably never get used to seeing you do. That’s just the way it is when you visit or live elsewhere, isn’t it? It’s kind of WHY we do it, isn’t it? We travel for the differences between us: to learn more about others, to learn more about ourselves through the eyes of others. Take for example, what I saw at our local, and “local’s” Farmer’s Market today: fodder for tomorrow’s Daily Photo. The photos are not great, but cultural differences they illustrate are. In the meantime, here’s some color for you today! The pink and red paint throwers were a zealous lot.