Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It was Sunday...

...morning. There is a joy in waking up on Sunday morning realizing that nothing you do today is governed by a schedule and that you can lie in bed for another hour even if you are not sleepy. But my reverie was abruptly disturbed by a flurry of activity, as my brain combated the fogginess and finally saw 2 kids running here and there with books, crayons, tiffin boxes and water bottles. With the look of incomprehension plastered all over my sleepy face, I slowly get up to see another person in the dining room serving food and yet another person breaking fast. Then it dawned on me, Sunday is a working day and the weekend was over….because I was in Dubai (I bet they have Sunday blues!) and was sleeping in Suja akka’s house! Only when she said ‘don’t you have a flight to catch?’ I realized that my fri-sat weekend in Dubai was over and I should get ready to go to the airport.

Rewind to the beginning of the weekend (imagine revolving concentric circles and put on your retrospective look)...Thursday evening when I landed...

Skyscrapers everywhere, right from those designed like pyramids to the most popular Burj Khalifa and Jumeirah Towers….oddly though, I also saw ‘To let’ advertisements on most of them. No takers, apparently!

Malls around every corner, well, well, when the temperature is 45 deg C and there is nothing much to do, shopping or even window shopping in an air conditioned mall with occasional breaks for food or drink seems like a good alternative. But one does get tired of it at some point and so some wise ones decided to differentiate each mall from the other with different forms of luxury and attractions – way to go ! One had plush carpets in the waiting area that would put 5 star hotels to shame when the other had exquisite ceilings. The Dubai mall, one of the largest in the world, with its aquarium and underwater attractions is definitely a great way to while away one’s afternoon.

What do you do when you get sick of the air conditioning and want some fresh air but cannot brave the heat? You hit the beach! Thanks to the crystal clear and cool water and the tourist-friendly beach (loved the pathway from the beach to the parking lot as well as the well positioned taps to wash the sand off your legs before stepping into your luxury car).

And then comes the souq, souq, souq or the markets (also known as Souk) where one can find clothes, spices, nuts

and of course, lots and lots of gold. Infact, seeing all the gold strewn about carelessly kind of makes the mind question if its actually gold !

Right from the gold model of Burj Khalifa to half kilo bangles, everyone seems to think big and pay big! I was quite taken aback by a few locals handing over bags of cash for some purchase. No wonder the use of a credit card incurs an additional 6-8% charge!

Desis always need one thing more than anything else in any place they visit…food…and that is available aplenty in Dubai and for astonishingly low prices. Right from Bombay chaat to kuzhi paniyaram, I managed to taste everything during the weekend (and hoped against hope that the high temperatures would enable me to sweat off the excess calories!)

And of course there is a temple that can be reached by a small but wonderful boat ride (also called an abra) across the Dubai creek and I was really excited to see ‘Perumal poo kadai’ and other small shops typically found close to a temple creating a very realistic mini ‘India’ in that area.

And there are the occasional interesting reminders that you really are in a different country with a completely different culture
- Bridal showroom advertising wedding clothes only in black (jeweled burqas* and abayas*)! I chuckled heartily imagining my mother’s look at seeing such a place (until date, I do not have a single sari with black even remotely in it!)
- Sign boards asking people to dress decently (not that everyone cared)
- Separate queues for men and women everywhere
- Ridiculously cheap fuel (cheaper than drinking water actually!)
- Unbelievably crime free that people joke that you can leave your wallet in the middle of the road and still find it intact after an hour ! (it’s a two edged thing actually, even the simplest crime has severe punishments, so you might want to watch what you are doing)

Ads about Dubai tourism boasted of having people from 160 different countries… what else can one expect from a country with more than 80% expats and 0% tax? While the 0% tax drives everyone (especially those from Europe) crazy, the sobering fact comes in the form of ‘no bankruptcy declaration possible’ which means one toe outside the line would put you behind bars.

Hmm...well...I don’t live there, so I blissfully forgot the sobering fact and enjoyed everything there was! Tamam :D !

*Abaya: The long flowing black gown worn by women
*Burqa: the cloth covering the head and the metallic coloured object used to cover part of the face

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