It's been a while in Dubai

It’s just any other Friday evening. As the colours of the sky change from a dull indigo to a pale crimson to a beautiful midnight blue, I can see the lights come on. From where I sit, I can see the skyline of the famous Dubai Marina. The shadowy silhouette is slowly changing to a beautifully lit silhouette. I am tempted to take a bus, the F29, my lifeline, to Dubai Marina; just to walk by the water – with the many yachts parked, swaying almost negligibly, on one side and the tall rise buildings on the other side. There are residential buildings, hotels and office buildings, all shining glamorously as the designers have ensured that the steel and glass live up to their reputation of being popular modern architecture elements.


I don’t know if Dubai has ever been called the land of dreams, but for more than a million Asian and Western expats, this city has become synonymous to being called a second home. From the outside, Dubai is a perfect city – I say perfect thinking of Nadia Comaneci and her famous 10 score at the Olympics. But Dubai allows, or rather unceremoniously ignores the chaos, the tiny streets where hustlers sell their artefacts, where taxis park erroneously; surely making the visionaries of this futuristic city scratch their heads in their sleep, where an older generation – the one that came to Dubai in the 90’s – lives in buildings so old, it could remind you of a section of Mumbai’s Dadar.

But that’s what makes a city real right? Nobody wants (at least I don’t want) a city made of glass and steel and H&M’s and Starbucks’ without the tiny textile store that sells fabric by the yard – fabric magically imported from a small city in Rajasthan, the open stall selling chai with one or two plastic chairs scattered outside or the occasional cyclist selling all kinds of chaat (read – Indian chat) from his huge cane basket tied to his cycle. How these guys can make and sell all kinds of chaat from that tiny basket still amuses me.


When I came here – I kept worrying whether I would like the city. Apart from exorbitant rentals, exorbitant utilities – what else was there for me to find out about that would make me cringe. Or will there be small hidden secrets that this famous city keeps? Oh what about the people. Will they be nice? Stuck up? Busy – the kind where they have no mind space for meeting a new person – not today, not in 2034?

I have been taking the same bus to work for around 6 months now – as I said, my lifeline. It’s a comfortable Volvo – like most public transport buses in Dubai. Sometimes the bus gets too cold for my liking – and I really want to tell the driver to please increase the temperature. Of course I never got around to it. I can hardly get up from my seat as I am frozen – what an irony. Initially, I used to get on the bus with my headphones glued to my ears. Lately, I have been observing – I see myself talking to a lot of the commuters. From holding my faithful headphones in my hands – ready to plug them into my years if need be, to keeping them in my bag, I have started to actually enjoy listening to random stories – not so random any more as I actually did become good friends with some of the commuters. The tiny lady from Hungary who’s fiancĂ© is from a small city in Mexico. The really tall lady from Libya who is waiting for her son to graduate from university so she can finally marry her fiancĂ© (whom she has been dating for 10 years). They’re both in Dubai – along with a million other expats – to earn, live, laugh, enjoy, save, and splurge. I must say, the people are nice. Busy – yes, stuck up – if need be, all staring at their iPhones – obviously, just like me. Just like everyone else. Dubai is growing on me. There – I said it.

Source - top photo and second photo

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