Saturday, February 12, 2011

Part 19 - Pandemonium in a developed world!

The shoe hunt concludes!

It's an age old saying that we've heard over and over again; try try try again! And I kept trying for my shoe in shop after shop and there was finally a suggestion from one salesman to try out Dubai Outlet Mall. Unfortunately this mall wasn't within the city limits and so getting there by metro or bus would be pretty difficult. So one evening we drove to the Outlet Mall, following the few sign boards and my bro-in-laws instincts. It was past 7pm when we started and quite dark when we reached the mall. It looked huge from the outside and there were a line of taxis waiting to pick up people leaving the mall.

Being so far outside the city meant that this mall didn't have the huge crowds like in other malls - the first shoe shop we went to was the outlet store for Reebok and some other lesser known brands. We asked for size 12/13 and the cashier directed us to the backside of the store. Wow - they had 2 racks for size 12 and higher. I tried on plenty of shoes and walked around in each one to see which felt comfortable. Its been years since I had the chance to try out different sports shoes in a shop - most of the times there will only be 1 or 2 pairs available!

Finally I picked a pair that felt good; seemed like an unknown brand and it cost only about Dhs. 90 - that was the best part; most of the shoes I saw, even the branded ones, were reasonably priced. For Dhs.90 this was cheap - I surely won't find one at this price in India. My nephew was looking at some Reebok shoes that cost more than double of mine! To see if we could get something cheaper for him, we went up to a Nike outlet store to see what they had but in vain. My bro-in-law and niece went to the food court while the rest of us wound up with buying the shoes. By 9:30pm most of the shops had pulled down shutters since it was a weekday and even in the food court there were hardly a couple of stalls open. I rushed up to the last stall and placed my order for junk food - was just in time!

Dubai World Cup

The next day I didn't do much - I wasted time lazing around at home playing computer games and PS2. At night, we decided to go to the Dubai World Cup - the world's richest horse race. My sister and niece stayed at home. It was being hosted in the Meydan race course which has a 5-star hotel attached to it; there were directions around the city pointing to the racecourse. There were no entry charges. Even from a distance we could see the blue illuminated top of the Meydan which resembled a mini-roller coaster. We made our way to the car parking and there was quite a crowd judging by the number of vehicles pouring in. The parking ground was away from the Meydan and there were buses arranged to shuttle people between the parking area and the Meydan. The race course looked grand - this was the first time that I was going to witness a horse race; there were a series of races scheduled through the night.

The stands were packed to capacity and overflowing. Hardly any place to stand, forget about sitting! By virtue of my height I was able to see the main track comfortably - the turf was a beautiful green. There was a contest for the best dressed person and also for the best hat in the audience - so what you saw were ladies sporting weird hats - some that had large bouquets on them! We snacked on shawaramas (the canteens had run out of food; it was a humungous crowd) and returned to watch a race. The race was like it usually is - the guy who is behind in the first half of the race tends to surge ahead in the final stages of the race. The horses and jockeys were visible from the stands.

Crowd gone crazy

We left the place after the race; the final race was scheduled for late at night. To go back to the parking, we had to take the bus. There was a huge outflow of people coming along with us and the buses were limited. Just as we came out 2 buses departed. We joined the queue that was lined up waiting for the next bus. After a few minutes, people started getting irritated - no buses were in sight. People started agitating about and when a bus came into view, people started pushing around trying to get ahead of the queue. You won't believe it - this was a developed country and you wouldn't expect to see the kind of pandemonium that ensued. People pushed others; gone was the courtesy and respect for fellow human beings; all that mattered was getting into the bus. The bus had two doors and people flooded onto the two doors. Just then another bus came behind and a crowd from the back of the queue rushed towards that. Even once the bus was full people still tried to squeeze themselves into the buses. The security guards tried to restore order but they were not heeded to - most of the hustle and bustle was by Asians and Africans. The Europeans weren't part of this melee. It was as if the crowd was possessed by the devil and when the two buses left, some order was restored. Fortunately there weren't many women or children in the queue - there could so easily have been a stampede with injuries. The scene showed the primal nature of man which is generally under control but sometimes when in crowds might express itself!

Back in the parking lot we had a hunt for the Pajaero - we didn't know where it was parked! The parking lot was divided into sections labelled by alphabets; we didn't remember the alphabet where we parked it! We thought we knew the where it might be and started searching; after 30 minutes the effort proved futile. We asked the guys who guided vehicles to the parking area what sections were open an hour back; still no clue. We then started searching in areas which we had ruled out earlier - and finally after 45 minutes or so we found it; there was now a barricade which was placed at the entrance to that area because the parking was full!

(fireworks - this was taken from outside the stadium)

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