Friday, June 5, 2015

The Land Of No Corruption! Unbelievable To Us, Indians!

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It is more than 4-5 months since I had visited this place, Dubai! We stayed there for 4 days.  The trip was arranged from home.  We visited this place on our way back from the U.S. Let me write about some interesting anecdotes I heard and saw over there.

We could see many many Indians everywhere, esp. Malayalees! Hindi is enough to roam around here! The driver cum guide told me many things about Dubai.  They are very well paid.  But everything from home rent to food, is expensive.  He was a Pakistani.  He had been working here for the past 8 years and had visited his family in Pakistan only twice.  He had 4 children(!).  Two were in college.  He said that though the work was tough, long hours, money was good.  We had 3 drivers for 4 days and all of them said that the country is free of thieves and no teasing or harming women, no corruption and NO INCOME TAX! Whatever you earn, you keep!

I thought that Dubai was a desert and so I won't find any trees except Palm trees.  No, many areas were covered by trees and we saw very well maintained lawns.

The UAE was created by their late King Zayed (whose photo was found everywhere!) which had made it one of the richest countries in the world.  More than Oil money, they are targeting on 'Tourism' money.  So many world class resorts, hotels etc. are found here.  I could hear Bollywood and Arabian music throughout the night from our hotel...night life for the tourists! Bollywood films are famous and music, more famous! They have started encroaching the sea also.  Filling the sea bed with rocks and mud and building houses and resorts there, it seems! Again, tourism is the main aim. 

I saw one music reality show like ours in their TV.  Girls were dressed up well, with modern dresses. They were either sitting or just standing while singing...middle aged men were sitting, many were there, opposite them and when the girl started singing, these men got up and started dancing...just rotating themselves with their Arabian dresses! Funny.  No girls or women danced!

I loved the desert safari ride! The vehicle was a land rover and the driver was a Malayalee (!).  3 other passengers (again Malayalees!), apart from me and my husband were sitting with our belts tied and hands holding the handles above our head.  These 3 people knew somebody and had hired this particular driver who drove us recklessly on top of the high mounds of sands and brought down as if the van would roll over...like head over heals! You know me well by now, I was laughing and my husband was glaring at me! But after getting down, he appreciated the driver for his control over the vehicle! We had never expected this ride to be like this! The height of thrills, really!

One more thing I noticed was, most of the buildings were painted in beige colour as if they were built by the govt., even the independent houses in posh localities.  The driver said that they were painted in sand colour because they got sand storms often and the sand dust covered everything, even the huge buildings, with sand.  It was tough to clean them all the time.  So this colour, which blends with the sand! What an idea, Sirji!

Apart from gold, which is famous and sounds cheaper than our country, tourists bring home badam, dates and saffron. Gold is purer, we were told.  2 Gold Souks (markets) are there with hundreds of gold/jewellery shops!  We paid one dirham, crossed the waterway by a boat and reached the market place, first the old one.  Small small shops with lots of local curios which were quite interesting and then to shops like the ones we see in our country.  We had a cup of local chai from a small tea shop and it was very good. Again, nobody glares at tourists! We had lunch at Sangeetha restaurant! Many Indian restaurants were there.  On one day, lunch was at a Gujarathi restaurant!

Now, to the pictures:

We went across the waterway just for one dirham to the market in this beautiful boat.

Independent houses in a posh area.  Only locals can buy property here.  Others can take houses on lease.  For starting a business here, it can only be with a local partner's collaborations, it seems.  Is it so?
The sand was beautiful, which is strange! Nothing else! I remember this safari even now than anything else about Dubai! We nearly touched the stars and tumbled down! Such high dunes!

Desert Safari...we had Indian Vegetarian food here and tender coconut too!  When we were returning from the desert at about 11 pm by the Land Rover, the whole area was dark until we reached the main road after driving for nearly an hour.  The only light we saw on the way was from a small hut, which was, you won't believe, a Keralaite's tea shop! If I had known earlier, I would have been prepared to take a snap!
Desert Safari...a girl dancing with serial bulbs on her dress to Arabian music.  The music was good! Camel rides were there and I rode one!

The road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. I saw trees on both sides of the road and platforms like this with small flowering pants in most places. Green lawns were looking fresh, well-maintained by mainly Indian labourers, I was told.  The mud was imported by ship from India, mainly! It has started raining here for a few weeks an year for the past 3-4 years, it seems.

Beautiful sea...clean beach.  It was full of foreigners.  We crossed this area at around 12.30 pm and the sun was burning our skin, still saw many fair skinned people in the beach.  I have to appreciate the local people...nowhere tourists were glared at or harassed.  No muggers or open cheaters, I was told.  Law is very strict here.  I love this aspect of the country.
Clean beaches...Looks beautiful! The whole city is clean!

The latest mosque built in honour of King Zayed, we were told.  I went around wearing an abaya (purdah, long black gown covering women from head to toe...only face was visible!).  Everything is new here, in this mosque.

We were taken to a 'model' village, a village created for the tourists, with narrow streets, wells, small mosque etc. Saw a small hut with cows, sheep, ducks and hens too.  Saw many small birds including many sparrows! This man was making woollen wall hangings.  It was interesting to watch him mix so many colours and bring out images. 

The wall hanging in the shop where the man was knitting. Threads of different colours are knitted together to bring beautiful images.  Amazing!

A well in the 'village'.  I have seen same type of wells in my village too, in Karnataka, India, near farm lands, when I was small!

Dubai 'village' ducks! One is sleepy...it was hot in the afternoon!

Burj Khalifa...the famous, tallest building in the world, a replica inside the Burj Khalifa.  Wiki link is here about this!

Gold Souk (the famous Dubai Gold market). It was very crowded in the morning before lunch.  This photo was taken at lunch time and it was a Friday, namaaz time! Noticed many Indian stores too like Shyam Jewellery, Damas, Joy Alukkas etc.. Wiki says 'By some estimates, approximately 10 tons of gold is present at any given time in the souk.
My memory about Dubai is these concrete buildings in different shapes and sizes and the Sand (desert safari which was beautiful but lasted for half an hour or something, i.e. driving on the sand). (this is wiki picture!)


28 comments :

Deepa Madhu said...

I can relate to your post :) Last year we missed our connection flight to Cochin (from London) and had one day in Bahrain. The moment we landed in Bahrain I felt home, everywhere I met Malayalees from the hotel staff to airport staff and malayalam was enough for me to shop, ask directions, find a good restaurant, finding the correct corner shop to buy an extra pair of cloth for my little one. Yes we are everywhere :)

Sandhya said...

DEEPA MADHU: Welcome to my space, Deepa and yours is the first comment! Thank you!

Hahaha...I saw them everywhere, there. All of them knew Hindi and some Tamil too! So, it was easy to interact everywhere for us too!

Destination Infinity said...

The replica of Bruj Khalifa is cool. My cousin lives in Dubai and he has told us many tales about the country. Your photo essay is very informative. Maybe someday I would like to visit this country as a tourist. I appreciate the people there for implementing and enforcing strict laws.

Destination Infinity

SG said...

Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

Sandhya said...

DESTINATION INFINITY: They are very strict in implementing their rules. People who come from other countries also follow them because they will be sent back home or fined a hefty sum if they even make small mistakes!

We have got a friend here in our complex now who live there for the past 8 years, say, they had been very happy with life over there. They are coming back here after retirement, though!


SG: Thank you, SG!

Rama Ananth said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures, and what you have described has made me want to visit Dubai.It is nice to see something different and equally interesting.

Saritha said...

What happened to my comment?? i wrote a big comment from my phone :(

Sandhya said...

SARITHA: Sorry, Saritha! It is not seen in other folders too! Shail Mohan also had written via phone and it is not to be seen. I wonder why?

Saritha said...

I wrote on your last post also a big comment :(

I used to live near abra and in evenings we used to sit on those benches and i used to love to see the seagulls. My mom used to call dubai mini kerala :)

Even though there are no taxes the govt wants you to spend what you earn there. Housing and schooling are very expensive. And you have tolls for every major road, its means you have to pay for using that road.

Food is very cheap and there are many indian and pakistani restaurants who serve delicious food. You have sarvana bavana and Anjappar.

Did you see the date trees on the roads and no one plucks dates from the trees.

Most of the buildings in gulf are of same colour.

You brought back my memories...I don't miss dubai much but husband misses dubai more than hyderabad..he says why we left dubai...Its a awesome place to stay if you are earning very well.

Sandhya said...

RAMA ANANTH: And it is nearby, Rama...easy to go! You will love the place. It is clean everywhere. I forgot to add, the men over there are with sharp features, esp. sharp long nose. Their eyes! They apply surma, well most of them and they have got long lashes. Notice it when you go there. I was describing these things to my husband but he said he didn't notice!!!


SARITHA: A big 'thank you' for you for taking the trouble to write this long lovely comment again! It is always interesting to read more details about the subjects we write in the comment section. We come to know more about them.

I wrote in my earlier comment about my neighbour who had been in Dubai for many years. The wife doesn't want to come back here even after retirement!

For you too, it would have been closer home.

'Even though there are no taxes the govt wants you to spend what you earn there' A Keralite said the same statement at the hotel! I saw the trees but didn't know that nobody plucked the dates from them. I was told that many cameras were there on the highways and other places too and action was taken immediately and the fine was a lot or the culprits were sent out.

I noticed the colour of the buildings, sand colour.

Thanks once again, Saritha!

Deeps said...

So glad to know that you had such a wonderful time in Dubai. You've got to come back, though, just so this time I can come and meet you :)

You're so right about the tourism bit, this place thrives on it. Especially Dubai. The place is designed to a large extent, keeping the tourists in mind. It's extremely easy to get around. The public transport system, especially the Metro network is very well connected and user friendly. The residents and visitors alike, have benefited from them. LOL, yes, you can get some interesting tidbits from the taxi drivers here, about the place in general. They are a treasure-chest of information. My husband is a big fan of these taxi drivers! He is much the wiser about getting around in this city and learning the ways of the city, thanks to the many conversations he has had with them :)

The flop side for me personally is that I find the city a bit too bling for my taste, a bit too superficial. Having come from a much more close-knit and quieter region like Qatar, I'm still learning my ways around the vibrant culture here. Btw, the place is not entirely free of thieves. Thefts and other petty crimes do occur here. Some get reported, a lot of it don't :).

But the situation is still much better than how it is back home. Here, women are much safer, I feel. I have driven on roads in the wee hours of the night here with Namnam and I have never felt unsafe ever.

Sandhya said...

You drove with Namnam at night alone and didn't feel unsafe, means it is great. We can never think of it here, nowadays, though Chennai is not still that bad, I feel. We are scared of going alone in autos!

Dubai is like a readymade city. No personal touch, I felt. With all the tourists amidst them, the locals are in their own world. They just ignore other people completely. One Friday, we went to the Gold souk in the afternoon and we didn't know about the namaaz time. We had to cross the mosque. People were coming out after namaaz. All wore white (only men with sons of all ages!). We walked among them. Nobody even turned their head towards us! I was a bit nervous to walk in between them. But I felt very happy later. All women are in purdah!

Thanks for giving more information about the city, Deepti. It is interesting to know about new places, esp. new culture.

Deeps said...

Yes, here you have to wear a burka when visiting a mosque, irrespective of the religion you follow. I'm yet to visit the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I wanted to take my parents there, when they were here, but couldn't. Hopefully next time when they are here. Have heard its an architectural wonder.

I came back to see your pictures, they weren't loading earlier. Beautiful shots, Sandhya!

Deeps said...

Oh yes, the food is really very cheap here, as Sari has rightly noted. And there's variety. There's enough scope to try different cuisines.

And I agree with her, there may not be taxes here, but the government ensures we pay for the services we get in other ways, like tolls on freeways and highways, parking tickets, etc.

Housing and schooling..ah, now thats where the major chunk of the income goes! :)

Sandhya said...

One driver came with his 3 year old daughter to pick us up. She was cute and was playing with her building blocks all the time and arranging back into her small purse later. She was going to LKG and was speaking in English, well mixing lot of English words, while speaking to her father and later to her mother over the phone. They are also from Pakistan and were there for some years, it seems. They speak in English with the daughter so that she gets fluency in the language. Times are changing, he said! His wife also wears burqa! She is Hritik Roshan's fan! I was chatting with all the drivers in Hindi! My husband was nudging me to stop talking, but...! He also said that housing and schooling is very very expensive! So saving is very less.

We didn't see the whole Grand Mosque but just a part of it! Have got many many more pictures of the mosque and the sands. But the city didn't impress me much. It is full of designer building blocks. Human touch is very less.

Thanks for the detailed comments, Deepti!



ashok said...

This post reminded me of my visits...very nice clicks too!

Renu said...

Your travelogues are so interesting Sandhya, that i feel like going every place you go and may be with the same tour planned:)

sm said...

beautiful photos
enjoyed reading the post about Dubai

Loco mente said...

Thanks for sharing the information and the beautiful pictures...
Tourism is the key to the development of any country. Thats the best excuse to preserve nature and culture. And it also helps in bringing foreign exchange. India has something to learn!

Sandhya said...

ASHOK: Thank you, Ashok!


RENU: Thank you, Renu! Husband has got free time to roam now and we are using it as much as we can!


SM: Thank you, sm!


LOCO MENTE: India has started promoting tourism. Main thing is to keep the places clean alongwith the rest rooms in the places. Thank you, Loco Mente!

Haddock said...

One of the places I have yet to visit.
Would love to see that man making woollen wall hangings.

Onkar said...

Very nice pictures and interesting account

Rachna said...

How lovely, Sandhya. Great clicks too. I loved your narration. I've yet to visit Dubai. I think in these Middle Eastern countries, the law and order is much better. But I hate their expectations from women and all those purdah formalities. Dubai of course is a tourist's paradise.

Sandhya said...

HADDOCK: I was standing there for sometime watching him knitting the design. Amazing.


ONKAR: Thank you, Onkar!


RACHNA: Law and order is followed strictly...no corruption in police department! Nobody can influence them!

Yes, women are still in purdah but they send their children to English medium schools and speak in English with them too, which is interesting! Everything will change in a few more years!

Jeevan said...

My uncle had been to Dubai many times and once when my cousins and aunt went they brought a gold chain for mom saying gold is pristine in Dubai. I think it’s certain that starting a business in dubai is possible only with a local partners because my uncle also planned to open a branded shoes shop along his friend who’s a resident there though it was dropped at last.

It is interesting to know why the buildings there are painted in sand color! The woollen wall hanging being woven seems to be tough job and he really does marvel. I also love the well

Sandhya said...

JEEVAN: Yes, the quality of gold over there is good, I was told. Whoever goes there, come home with some gold jewellry!

Outside people can start business with local people as partners. And no outsider can buy house there, it seems. They can take houses on lease.

Thank you, Jeevan!

Shail Mohan said...

I was thrilled to read this post because this is a place I have been to, too and also similar experiences. But the comment vanished. Now I am back :)
Our driver for the Safari ride was a Pakistani. Since movement makes me feel nauseous, I was given the front passenger seat. Only four of us were there, sis, bil and my husband and me. Omg, what a ride it was! In between the driver turned to me and asked, "Ma'am, are you scared?" Actually I had started feeling queasy by then. i was glad to stop in between where we took pictures and all and then again...! By the time we reached I was ready to throw up. the feeling lasted for a long while. But I thoroughly enjoyed it :D

Sandhya said...

Hahahaa...Happy to know that you too enjoyed the ride! It was a bit scary but I knew from the other passengers' conversation that the driver was very very capable! If I had known earlier how it would be, I would have had second thoughts, though!

Thank you, Shail!

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