While Qatar is a far distance from the real-world Tataouine, the sunsets here in the desert, with sand whipped in a humid frenzy across the horizon, look surprisingly similar. The brilliant colors of a Virginia or Texas sunset, gold and dark blues streaked with silvery clouds, sinking into deep purples and a molten-iron orange star, are nowhere to be seen. Instead, I hear the opening bars of John Williams plaintive motif. That French horn, or what I think is a French horn, is always haunting in its ominous, yet mellow, set of bars.
What I find fascinating about that time of day here, though, is how powerfully linked it is in my mind to Star Wars. I have not watched the original movies in a very long time, and there have been plenty of other movies with desert sunsets. Nonetheless, even here on the opposite end of the Arab world from its filming location, that movie pervades my emotions and memories whenever dusk begins to fall. At some point I want to drive out into the truly empty desert – the development here is extensive and has light pollution akin to a major highway interchange in the US, but fuzzed and expanded by the low air quality and sheer volume of dust and humidity that fills the sky.
When the moon is particularly full, as one colleague points out, sometimes it can feel like a double sun instead of a golden moon. Yet again I find myself wishing that I were somewhere else, being someone else, doing something that felt more significant and meaningful.
When I write, I find that I am often heavily influenced by the environment I am in at any given time. It takes more effort than you might think to write about hot summer days filled with green leaves, when you are shrouded in blankets and watching snow fall outside the windows. Similarly, with the story I have been working on most recently, the landscape changes from an alpine mountainside town, across a broad and windswept plain, and will eventually reach an enormous temperate forest, but all around me right now is bleached calcium desert broken only by human development, with hardly even a wadi or a gully to break the general flatness. I will have to take a good, exemplary picture at some point to demonstrate the effect. Instead, here is a picture of the full moon, above some blurry buildings: