Monday, June 28, 2010

Dubai part 13 - Back to school!

My sister gave me a missed call to signal that food had arrived. As I scurried back, I couldn't see any signs of a restaurant that my Pakistani friend's dad was running; it used to be a regular place for us to snack on a free samosa daily - and that was one of the best samosas I've ever had; large in size and stuffed with potatos. After having lunch, we drove by the Corniche - from one end to the other. On the way I could see the building of Commerce which was exactly the same as it had been when I left the place. My sister and bro-in-law showed me the building where I stayed from 9th till 12th grade but from such a distance I couldn't make out much.

We headed to the Abu Dhabi Marina Mall. Again another large mall - it had an ice rink. My nephew was adamant to step into the rink; it was a lot smaller than the Dubai ice rink but the charge was the same. When I checked for skates for my size, guess what? - you know what happens for my size! No skates for my size! And so we didn't step into the rink.

The future is here

There was a revolving restaurant but you had to pay Dhs. 100 to get to the top to experience it; they basically wanted us to place our order to eat something and only then could we sit inside. There was a shop with Mercedes and Ferrari cars. There was also a bowling alley but the guy refused to let my nephew and me share one lane. Most of the shops were for the upper class except for some of the regular ones like Carrefour (a hypermarket). In every mall there was something interesting I found and over here there was this seminar by a road traffic cop that I found fascinating. "Hey, traffic rules and fascinating," you ask. Just look at the video below. Do you think a guy is actually standing on stage?

My sister, nephew and I were wondering if he was there but he wasn't! Look again - it's 3d projection for which you don't even need to use 3-d glasses; the key factor is that you should be a little away from the screen - the closer you go the more obvious it will become that the 3d image is just a superimposition of images; the farther you are, the more it feels like stuff is really there on screen live! We watched the session 3 times - the future of cinema was right in front of our eyes!

After clicking some snaps, we decided to head back to Dubai since it was getting late and would take a couple of hours to drive. But when we came out we saw a glittering double decker bus. On enquiring with the driver, he said it would go around the city and return back to the same place. We hopped onto the top of the bus which was uncovered at the back. It didn't seem like many people knew that this was a free ride! The ride was less than an hour and it covered some interesting places. It passed by the Emirates Palace which was glittering in lights. It is a luxury hotel decorated in marble and gold. Room rates vary from Dhs. 1000 upto Dhs. 30,000 (that's around Rs.3.6 lakhs for a night)!

After that the bus passed by the Khalidiya area and I did recognize my 9th to 12th grade home - it was one of the grandest homes I've lived in - a spacious four bedroom apartment in which i even used to play my own squash using a tennis racket! A lot of pleasant memories - the long walks from home till the Cultural Foundation, hanging out with my buddy Joseph, buying Young Times from a newspaper guy who used to sell magazines near the traffic signal... And it all just seems like yesterday! Traffic was horrendous in some junctions.

Back to school

We picked a few Shawaramas and falalel (part of Middle East cuisine which are like chapatti rolls) on the way to my school which was on the way to Dubai. I hardly remembered much about the route to school; neither did my sister - she had also studied in the same school! Every turning made me feel like I was on the road to school but I was wrong - the area had plenty of villas and all of them would appear the same! One major problem with driving over here is that you don't have autorikshaws or roadside tea shops where you can ask for directions. On traffic signals you had to catch the attention of fellow drivers - if lucky, they will notice you! When our Pajero came to the school gate at 9pm, a school boy anxiously came running out expecting to see another vehicle; probably waiting for his parents and the watchman at the school was a touch disappointed on seeing the Pajaero. Memories, black and white and color, came back one after the other. The area was silent since this was kind of like the outskirts of the city and the only illumination was from the street lights and lamp-post near the security guard room. The gate was the same and the school bus stationed outside also seemed the same as it was 10 years ago; days of playing tennis football during class breaks, dissecting imported rats and playing soccer on the football field. Thinking back at such times, you start wondering whether you missed a few chances; a few opportunities and some extra effort if taken which perhaps could have altered destiny - isn't destiny a culmination of all our efforts? Even though you might have led a good life, you still feel that perhaps, just perhaps you could have done something different or better. I felt nostalgic thinking over school incidents.

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