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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 502 to Day 505 - The Dubai Diaries AND Day 506 to Day 509 Starts...

I am back. I will start by writing all about my Trip to Dubai - UAE. After a long time, i took an international flight at a normal time of 9:45 AM. The start of the trip was with a funny incident. While packing the bags and keeping them on the carrier of the cab, little did we realise that the entrance to my building wing was on a lower side so the cab driver should have reversed the car and in taking it in the front, a part of the bag was damaged. But it was minimal. Lesson Learned - Be alert at all times. Going to the airport, the roads were empty and thankfully so was the queue. Being early morning time, there were hardly any flights, and hence, hardly any people. After checking and security, managed(for the 1st time) to use the private lounge where certain credit card holders have free access. Used free internet, had a nice hearty breakfast (all free) and then boarded the flight. The flight left 10 minutes late but we reached Dubai on time.
Now with UAE, there are some strange immigration laws. One of them is, getting an eye check done. The issue is, there is, most of the times, only 1 person conducting these tests and around 100-200 passengers waiting. With an average time of around 30 - 60 seconds per person, it took almost 45 minutes for my chance to come.
The ladies have it easy as they can opt to stand in a separate line so that they have to wait that much less.

Anyways, took a cab to reach to a suburb called Al-Barsha and the name of the hotel was Cassels Ar Barsha. For around INR 26000, it was a steal to get a 3 night - 4 day stay with breakfast for 4 people(that 1 of us was a kid doesnt make a difference). It was a huge 2 bedroom  hall kitchen service apartment. I changed and headed straight for the hotel gym.
After that had a late lunch and took an hour's nap.
In the evening, we headed for the Burj Khalifa. The tallest building in the world.
Built at a cost of $1.5 billion, it stands at a height of 828 meters.
However, the highest point a common man is allowed is at the observatory deck at 621.3 meters at the 163rd floor.
To go to Burj Khalifa, one can catch the metro and get down at the Dubai Mall Station. Then go from the basement to the Lift to Burj Khalifa.
Its highly recommended to book the tickets and the time slots in advance. Because its very unlikely that you will get tickets on the day of your arrival.
Some of the pictures are below.

 After that we had some nice mexican dinner at the food court of Dubai Mall and then left for the hotel to just crash to bed.

                                                                        DAY 503

Scrooge and i decided to head for the relatively newly opened, Ferrari Park on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The drive was very smooth. Covered 100 Km in around 56 minutes. The road was smooth and despite being a friday(Which is equivalent of a Sunday in GCC) it was not very crowded. We got the tickets and sat on a few roller coaster rides. But the one ride we were most eager to sit was Formula Rossa. Said to be the fastest roller coaster ride ever, with top speed of 200 Km/H. The ride lasts for less than a minute but the thrill is awesome. We sat in that ride two times. The 2nd time, we got a chance to sit in the front seat, but condition was that we had to let go 3 rides as there were many people behind us. We gave it a shot and it was worth the 30 minute wait. Absolutely awesome.

We sat in quite a few rides and then visited the car exhibition and the multimedia show of the history of ferrari. We left the park at around 5:45 PM and headed for Dubai. We took the metro and headed for Central Dubai and straight to a market called, Meena Bazaar. Meena Bazaar is a typical Indian Market which has many small stores selling everything from Perfumes, Electronics, clothes and at a very reasonable rate. Scrooge bought a lot of perfumes. Then headed to a factory outlet for clothes and got myself the much coveted Brazil Football Team Jersey for half the price i would have got it in Bombay. Then headed for the Mall of Emirates. This is the world's largest shopping mall. It has a space of 2.4 million meters of shops and establishments and around 6.5 million meters of overall space. It has nearly 400 different shops/restaurants/theme amusement park/cafes/hyper market.
We had a nice indian dinner and then out of sheer co-incidence one of my old office colleague, Kunal, came over.
The amazing part is throughout the day he was trying to get in touch with me but the mobile phone was coming unavailable and then he headed for the mall to hang around and spotted me amongst the tens of thousands of people who were there.
Then headed back to the hotel to drop scrooge and Kunal, his wife Sapna and yours truly went for a drive to Palm Jumeirah. For those who dont know, this is an artificial Archipelago built in the shape of a palm in Dubai. It is one of the 3 palm islands of Dubai and the land area easily covers atleast 800 football fields.
It was built using 9.4 million cubic meters of sand and 7 million tons of rock. And who said sand and rock didnt have any use should see the Palm Jumeirah.
We talked about the good ol' days of office and promised to stay in touch and try and meet in person more often. I just crashed in to the bed after a long long day. I have clicked some of the pictures below.

                                                                             DAY 504

Saturday was relatively relaxing. We had breakfast at the hotel and rested for some time and then headed to Dera Dubai to buy some Saffron and Dates for near and dear ones. Got some real good bargain on Saffron and then headed to have a late lunch at Papa Johns for some yummy Thin Crust Pizzas. Then went to a nearby mall to buy some baby clothes/toys for Little Purav and then headed back to the hotel. Scrooge and me then headed for a nice swim at the roof top pool and after that he went for dinner with a friend and i decided to venture out alone. I headed for the Mall of Emirates and browsed around. Went to the hypermarket and got some chocolates. Then had a nice dinner at Chilis - One of the famous Mexican Fast Food Chain. Then while heading to the hotel, it came as a shock that the Metro shuts pretty early. 10:30 was the last metro and hence i had to walk nearly 1 KM to the hotel. Grrr. Anyways, i reached hotel, watched some TV and then crashed to the bed. The pictures taken throughout the day are below.

                                                                       DAY 505
The Dubai trip comes to an end. We had a flight at 4 PM. Didnt have much to do in the morning. But had a special date. Well, you can call it a date if you want. Because i was heading once again for MOE. This time to meet a school friend of mine. The funny part is that we didnt meet since 1994 once school ended. And now we were meeting, in a place far far away from where we were born, after 17 years. Ekta. She has become a home maker having 2 lovely kids. But today, it was just the both of us. Althought its been years since we met, it felt like we didnt loose touch at all. We spoke as if we just met yesterday. The more funny part was that we used to stay in the same housing complex from 1984 to 1994 and in all these years, we spoke less than 10 times while away from school and about 10-12 times while we were in school. Yet somehow, it was a great feeling to meet someone you knew from way back then after years. Nostalgia at its best. After that headed for the hotel and then back to the airport. Little purav was in 7th heaven with the large open spaces that he could run around. We reached Bombay at around 8:30 PM and cleared immigration and headed for home. Unpacking everything, decided to call it a night. But not before checking our respective blood pressure considering the fact that both of us decided to be off our regular BP medicine in order not to get immuned.
One mistake. Never do that. Because i got a BP count of 147/96. The normal is 120/80. Hennce i immediately went back to medication and slept like a log.
In these 4 odd days in Dubai, i learnt a lot of new things.
1) Dubai and UAE as a whole, looks glamrous from the outside and is a good get away destination. But the country, and specially Dubai, is still going through a recession. Biggest example - There are hundreds of high rise buildings that have been built but not a single occupant.
2) In Dubai, Food is expensive, Petrol is cheap. Mobile Phones and Computers are expensive and a Television is cheap. Public Transportation is not adequate and expensive while a car is very cheap. Living on a rent is expensive while in the same proportion, from a global perspective, Hotels are cheap.
So whether one would want to settle in Dubai or not can be debated for hours. But it was a very interesting experience, nevertheless.

DAY 506
Woke up late and didnt have capacity to go to the gym as was pretty tired and had a headache. So practically lazed around the whole day and just watched some movies on DVD and surfed the net. In the evening, headed for my grandpa's place to have a nice quiet dinner. Now i know some of you must be wondering why is it that i am going to my Grandpa's place for dinner so often now a days. There is no reason really, after mum passed away, even they felt a big void in their personal space. No matter how much my  Mum and her brother(my mama) would have had difference of opinions with each other, they were still related by blood. And blood is thicker than water. And with both their kids staying in USA, my guess is they would be very happy if I would atleast join them in dinner. And frankly, its good because i need to be a little more sociable and though i dont like to mingle around with any of my relatives as i am a reserved person, i am more comfortable with my Grandpa and my uncle.

DAY 507
Today promised to be another hectic day. I went straight to one of the financial company where mum had some of her money to ensure its transferred to a common savings account. Then headed for the LIC office to check on the status of the claim forms submitted. Seems it was still in progress. Till then it was mid afternoon. So i decided to relax and catch up on a movie. Saw Just Go With it starring Adam Sandler. A modern day remake of Michael Caine's hit comedy, the cactus flower. Typical Adam Sandler movie, except there was no role of Rob Schnieder. Went home and relaxed and then once again went to Grandpa's house in the evening for a dinner. Came back to my own home and remembered i had to pay a credit card bill. So took the car out and even took little Purav out for a drive and he loved it. Had some paan on the way and then back home to crash on the bed.

DAY 508 to Day 509 starts...
I took it easy for the day. Since my house windows are going to be grilled, i had to stay home to do basic supervision. Since i didnt go to the gym for the last 3 days, i decided today, come what may, i will go to the gym. I exercised normal than usual and then came home. After relaxing for a while i went to my Grandpa's place and had a surprise meal of Pizza. After a nice dinner, i spoke for nearly 90 minutes with my Uncle on a variety of topics and it was a good talk because i managed to find certain viable solutions to certain property matters that i was confused about. So an evening well spent. I left for home and as soon as i reached the door of my house i had to leave again. Why ? Little Purav was upset about not getting out of the house the whole day(Lots of my mum's genes) and had to take him for a drive. So I took him out, along with Scrooge, to the place where my own dad used to take us. At Marine Lines, Opposite the SK Gardern near the local train line to see the trains. As kids, we would do this, practically, every single night with Dad. And this tradition has continued with Purav. And he was ecstatic. And i came home, had a nice shower, as it was extremely humid outside and decided to write my blog as its been pending for a week now.

I do not know what tomorrow has in store for me, but at this stage of my life, i am taking each day as it comes. I am optimistic whatever happens in my personal aspect. will happen for the best.
And with that i will call it a day and will leave with a nice ode for that one person i loved, i still love and i will keep loving forever and beyond....
My love is like the sun that warms me when I am cold,
And like the cool water of the brook that refreshes me.
My love knows the secret pleasures of my soul,
And delights with me in fulfilling them.
Who is my love but the soul of my soul,
And the reason for every beat of my heart.
Who fills me with life in the joy of her presence,
And returns to me more than I have given.
Come to me, my love, I die without you.
Each day is eternity, waiting for your touch.
Remove the tears from my eyes and the ache in my heart,
Be closer than my breath, all my days, all my nights.

Good night and keep reading....!!!

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