Sheetal Tai sat beside me in my flight to Dubai. Wrapping a shawl around her head to battle the cool air coming from the ventilator, she quickly tucks some paan in her mouth before we take off (The sale or import of betel based products are banned in the UAE). When you book a ticket on a budget flight to Dubai, you can be rest assured that you will be travelling in a jam packed plane accompanied by at least one crying baby if not two.
Now, Indian citizens with a green card or a valid US visa can get a visa on arrival in Dubai by paying a nominal fee.
I have visited Dubai earlier and I realise that this city is only trying to outdo itself every time. The foundation for The Tower has already been laid to surpass Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building.
It is expected to be completed by 2020, the year that Dubai hosts Expo 2020. My visit took place during the holy month of Ramadan and the unholy period of scorching summer heat. At this time, no one is allowed to eat or drink in public or outdoor spaces. The law of the land has to be respected at any cost otherwise be prepared to pay a heavy fine or spend some time in jail. The food courts in malls are walled off and the mall security is constantly keeping a watch. Considering that Dubai is a city that thrives on tourism, this move seems a bit harsh but it is really heart-warming to see the city and its people come to life at night. The Ramadan offers on the sale of dry fruits, sweetened dates, food and even electronics are advertised everywhere, almost bombarding your eyes while the food preparations teased your other senses.
The city’s connectivity is made strong through its public transportation, and the metro connects distant parts very efficiently. Travelling this way made me sigh at the poor public transportation facilities in Pune. When will we have buses that don’t fart black smoke every minute?
But, there was a sudden turn of events when the UAE along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar. Suddenly, everyone spoke in hushed tones and the atmosphere seemed tense..
It was time for me to come back to Pune. The dilapidated buses, the potholes, the constant tree-felling and the pollution welcomed me with open arms, never wanting to let go.
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