By: Gangeyyo Bhattacharjee (LT SL)
They say that the couple, who can travel together, can live together. To check this necessary condition, we make sure to pack our bags and leave to see a new place every time we get an occasion to celebrate. Our second anniversary was very well spent in Dubai and that is what this article is all about. The trip to Dubai was worth every penny and every effort we spent to allay my mother’s fear that the place is filled with Dawoods. It is not.
The worst thing first. We started from Delhi on 27th of January aboard a very ordinary but scary flight courtesy Air India Express.
Suggestion for readers: choose your flight wisely if you are wary of turbulence mid-air or in-flight announcements like, “Please keep sitting at your allocated seats and do not move to empty seats at your will, as it may disturb the alignment of the flight.”
But all the in-flight un-fun we had, got compensated by the first look of Dubai Skyline from the aircraft. Being a civil engineer, I feel Dubai has to be a civil engineer’s dream place. It is a place where engineering marvels are put out on display at every nook and corner. Everyone knows about the Burj Khalifa and it is indeed a head turner all the way, but once you are in Dubai, all the buildings seem to be an architect’s dream. They rise above the plush neighborhood and make it hard for anyone to believe that everything there was a desert merely 30 years ago. The place is obsessed with superlatives. You can find the tallest, biggest, largest, thinnest, straightest, cleanest, smoothest, cheapest and the most expensive things in Dubai. Just for the information, the kingdom tower in Jeddah will be overtaking the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest tower in 2018. But wait, come 2020, and another tower called ‘The Tower’ will be rising above 1km from the ground to replace the kingdom tower as the world’s tallest and bring back the glory to Dubai. The competitive Arabs, Sigh!! The palm islands are masterpieces of engineering in themselves. We took a bus to see the Atlantis at Palm and it was supremely inspiring. All the talks of denouncing material pleasure to reach a higher spiritual ground are forgotten when you stand in front of the gigantic hotel embracing the Arabian Sea and all you can think of is how and when can you book a room there to stay. Such places are spread across Dubai in plenty.
Our first days were spent roaming around, getting to know the place, meet people. Never did we feel that we are in a Middle East country far from home as the streets were filled with fellow Indians and Hindi could be heard at all the places. Salman Khan and Varun Dhawan adored the bill boards and Shahrukh Khan still sold fairness creams. As I felt foolish to have compared my Riyadh lone-stay experience with a holiday in Dubai, we stopped a random passer-by to ask for the location of a taxi stand and as we spoke in English, he answered, “Bhai, Delhi se hoon!” Speaking of the taxis, we could hardly see any hatchbacks and my dream to travel in a Mercedes got fulfilled, just like that. And needless to say, the taxi driver was also from India.
We went for a desert safari on 29th and it was an experience unparalleled. The land cruiser dived in and out of sand dunes at speeds of 100 kmph, bashing across the pile of sand beneath, much to our scare but more to our excitement for half an hour and took us to a place in the middle of the desert. As the vast ocean of golden yellow sand lied all around us, colored astutely by the setting sun, we felt small, felt lonely, felt what a man would feel if he has to travel across this mighty spread, or if he is asked to build an empire over this. We were then taken to a desert camp where we filled our bellies topped it up with some mind blowing belly dancing.
The next day we went to Abu Dhabi Ferrari world and again, I rode the World’s fastest roller coaster, The Formula Rossa there in which I understood what they really mean when they say, having your heart in your mouth. Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi is also a beautiful structure which boasts of world’s biggest chandelier and the largest single carpet. By this time, whatever we saw, we were sure it would be a superlative of an adjective. It got crazy when, while coming back from Abu Dhabi, our guide pointed towards a massive building and said, “This building is a community center which the king has made for poets and literature enthusiasts to sit and culture. And ladies and gentleman, it is the world’s biggest such structure” and we laughed.
Laughed as much as we could, but we couldn’t deny the fact that the achievement of Dubai is no less than a miracle in itself. Ever since it became a part of UAE, the place has grown so immensely that it can feature in any good-governance case study lectures. We came back on 1st February after visiting the world’s biggest shopping mall, The Dubai Mall. I say visiting because it takes 48 hours for a man to cover all the corridors of the Dubai Mall. That be, if he doesn’t stop at any of the shops. We were informed that shoppers from around the world come to Dubai, stay for 2 weeks, shop and leave. Dubai being duty-free, many brands were less expensive than sadda Mall of India, Noida. Emptying our wallets and filling our heart with awe-inspired memories, we boarded another terrible flight back home. Courtesy Air India Express.