TEMPLE / by Aaron Fenster

Failed excursion. Fair conclusion.

I was standing on the muddy shoulder of the road where the previous day I had seen a photograph I wanted to make. Dozens of red, green and blue water tanker trucks, saturated in hard light from the sun setting late on a clear Dubai afternoon. The trucks were dotted across acres of sand painted red by the sunlight, all against a panoramic background stretching from the Dubai Eye north to the Marina. I decided I’d come back with a camera at the same time the next day.

But the next day there weren't half as many trucks, and what had been sharp hard light was diffused by dust, fading the contrast and colors I had admired. But no reason not to check out the area and make a few images.

I saw a man standing a couple hundred meters deep into the scene and assumed he was a security guard. I was glad he wasn’t shooing me away as I took a few photos, losing hope that the light might improve. Then he did walk to the roadside not far from me. I had done all I could with my original idea so decided to say hi and see if he could tell me any more about this area. I learned his name was Temple, but we laughed when I mistook his name for Tempo and did some dancing to demonstrate my "understanding."

Temple is not a security guard, but a cleaner working on the extension of the Metro that will service developments under way for the 2020 Dubai Expo. He was finished working and waiting for a ride home from his "boss". That’s what I thought for a week until he said the word again and I realized he was waiting for a “bus” to take him home. I’ve come a long way understanding the accents of people from India and the Philippines, but I need some practice with Nigerian.

Temple is from outside of Lagos, and after 15 months he’s been here almost as long as I have. He is a bit shy, but quick to smile, and after 10 minutes of chatting I walked away with a new Whatsapp contact and an invite to hang out with him on Friday. He offered to show me around the markets in Sharjah, which he said I’d enjoy photographing, and after parting ways I drove home looking forward to the weekend and happy with an unexpected conclusion to my outing.