Friday, February 15, 2008

Dubai - Day 3

Monday, Feb 11 – getting around
We have learned from the experiences of our 2 days here. It’s time to leave the hotel early after a quick breakfast. The wait ain’t so bad today.
09:30 AM
Get started by uploading the activities of Day 1 on the internet to my blog. I’ve discarded the Formal suit routine to go in for a normal formal dressing. My goatee has also vanished. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. JM continues to rib me over the last nights sleep disaster. All I can say is that I had one beer too many and coupled with a tiring day - resulted in a system crash. The good part being that I slept on my bed and not in somebody elses, Just kidding.
I look around - and evaluate the other stalls around us. Oh - there’s one petite Korean babe bang opposite, there’s another one diagonally away and of course - we do have an Indian in the adjoining booth. 3 cute women - and me - the married man - quite off the market for sometime now!
Ironically - i never wear my wedding band when I’m in Delhi. Supriya is always joshing me about it. But here - I haven’t taken it off - even slept with it last night.
Lunchtime. Well I’ve been exploring the cafe here. We’re bang in the middle of 2 of them. They charge 5 star rates and the food quality is just about average. I stick to stuff that i will not get in
India - the juicy beef burger. Yeah yeah - i’m a hindu - and it’s a poor cow and all that. But I have learned the benefits of being omnivorous - one never goes hungry or abegging for choice. So it’s a beef burger for me and a chicken one for JM. Add to that a couple of cokes. This is the staple diet for the duration of the exhibition.
06:00 PM
The exhibition ends and we exit - trying to find a cab. This is the beginning of the nightmare on Dubai streets. There are cabs - but you cannot see them, call them, hail them , stop them. The
only alternative is to walk to a distant parking lot “F” and stand in a queue for one. We see the daunting length of the queue and like true Indians - shy away. The queue ahead of us is a minimum of 100 taxi commuters long.
We start walking at about 6:25 and are doing so till half past 7. No taxi in sight. We head in the general direction of the hotel and hope to mind solace in the way. The formal shoes are killing me. JM has also slowed down. Our heavy working bags on the shoulder - this salesman style walking isn’t doing much good. Finally - I’m in the middle of an intersection - when JM calls ,
stops me - I turn around and there is an empty cab coming our way. This guy is toast - we literally step into the middle of the road ad block his way. He stops and relents. We get in without saying another word - close the door and THEN tell him to take us to our destination . he ain’t too happy about ie - but what the heck!!
We change into comfy keds and jeans and make our way out. Yes - we’re tired - but there’s still some spark left. So we ask the Gateman - if he can direct us to a good eating joint. He give us directions to a local KFC. We look at each other - a lil disturbed - he is a SARDAR after all!
We trudge down to the general location and eat a fairly disappointing meal - it’s not filling and the price ain’t worth it. Another long trek, a lil extra to a taxi driver and we find ourselves at the City Centre Mall in Deira. Now - this is a mall!!
My eyes are all around - it’s the DUBAI that we’ve heard about since childhood. Shops and shoppers galore. We’re not in the shopping mood - so we go in to watch a film.
We get the 10PM tickets for CLOVERFIELD. One kewl film - I’ll catch it again when and IF it gets to India. One thing I can say is that INDIAN cinema seats are quite better and comfy as compared to the ones in Dubai.
That said - I kinda like the trust that people have here. Yes - maybe the CCTV is on and someone is always monitoring it. Maybe the threat of chopped hands keeps people from shoplifting. But it’s nice to be able to walk into any shop and walk out without being gazed at in a suspicious manner.
We’re done with the film ad enter into the queue for the TAXI. This is a much faster queues - even though it’s longer. We head back to the hotel and I drop JM off to the room before proceeding for a whiff of Dubai Nightlife.
12:15 AM
Technically this is Day 4 - but we’ll stay on Day 3 for a while. So I head down to the Indian Nightclub on the ground floor - it’s called Mehfil. Reminds me the Mumbai Dance bars - cos that’s exactly the atmosphere they have here. Here’s the scene - 6 girls sitting on a stage, they start dancing to a number as their name is called out. They’re all Indian with names like Priya, Sunita, Mahek, Maahi but they’re wearing clothes which are sexy but fully covered. There’s a hint of cleavage in a few places - but nothing beyond that. You can’ touche them, call them, talk to them.... just watch them. It’s the height of hypocris where you take pleasure from watching a woman dance and want to exploit her - but its all in the mind. They would sit with their legs covered as if a skin display would offend ones morals. The men who wished to spend some money would call the local manager and he would give them to the girl in question.
I sipped my Heineken and watched things unfold :-)
yes - that’s all I did
I exited after a couple of beers and went to an Afro Night club thereafter. This was more like it.
But only Blacks - no white, no browns! They were givin me weird kinda looks so i didn’t overstay the welcome.
I finally landed up in Bed at 3 in the morning having made the most use of Day 3 to cheer myself
in Dubai

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dubai - Day 2

Sunday, Feb 10 – Arab Lab 08
06:45 AM
I awake. Jatin has been up for a while. This is it - this is what we
came here for (apart from the shopping and the nightlife). A quick
breakfast later, we're waiting for a TAXI.
09:20 AM
Taxis are scarce. The wait has extended to over 30 mins and no sign of
relief. Suddenly the car comes up and voila - we're en-route.
Interstingly - for all the glam about the city - it suffers from crazy
traffc jams. The route which is essentially 15 minutes - drags on for a
good 30 minutes before we are dropped at our destination - 15 dirhams
10:00 AM
The exhibition starts. No visitors. Well actually - Diagnostics is in
short attendance. The main participants are from the Lab Analytics
segment and Instrumentation. Many countries have their own pavilions.
the Koreans are touting " PREMIUM KOREA" , while the Germans simply say
"MADE IN GERMANY". The Brits, Spaniards and Chinese have their separate
sections too. It's the Indians who are scattered far and wide - most not
wanting to show any link with each other or the country. We've got a a
Punjabi manufacturer from Ambala on the left and a Forensics company on
the right. The koreans stare us in the face. AT least they have a few
pretty faces to keep motivation levels up.
We go thru the entire cycle of meeting customers, distributors ,
competitors till the end of day. its quite an eye opener for me - since
this is my first!!
06:00 PM
Time to disco & khisko from the stall. Well they have an exhibitors
party planned and off we go - standing in this big queue to board the
shuttle to the Grand Hyatt for the party. Standing in line for
everything is one of the hallmarks of this trip. At lest they stand in
an orderly manner without attempting to jump queue all the time.
The shuttle journey drops us at the Grand Hyatt and we're in a long
queue to enter and deposit our bags at the concierge. Given the fact
that there are over 1000 guests, the line is long - uncomfortably so!
The party beings with some nice jazz music and we look around to see our
table partners - 3 aussies and a few germans. They have their own groups
- so not very friendly types. I trymy bit and making a conversation
happen. A few beers and wines down - the serving lady responds quite
enthusiastically to the 10 dirham note and an acknowledgement of her
name. The interesting part - the appetizers are paneer tikkas and
chicken tikkas - and the staff - call them by their real name - not an
anglicized "cottage cheese" version. The buffet is sumptuous - the fish
is like totally awesome. The only point of discussion - IS ANDREW
08:45 PM
Time to stand in line for a taxi again. We head back - to the hotel where I prepare to go and paint the town red. I change into comfortable clothing, and decide to take a short nap - before going down to the afro night club in the hotel. The short nap extends for quite a few hours as
I wake up at a quarter past two. I had popped off in my keds and clothes as is. The spectacles would have been on too - if Jatin hadn't taken them off. So the first nights "beach party" came a cropper as it remained consigned to the dreamworld!!
I will make up for it on Day 3.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dubai 2008 - Day 1

Dubai 2008
Arab Lab -the exhibition, and thereafter!!!
Saturday, Feb 9 – Arrival

06:00 AM (IST)
Jatin and I arrive at the IGI airport amidst some thick fog. We proceed thru the customs and security check without much haste. I am a little apprehensive, understandably so - since this is my first visit abroad and the customs officer might presume he has a “bakra” in his hands. I am briefed well by my brother and we breeze through with the customs official giving a customary glance at my goatee... wondering if the fellow in the Passport (from 1999) is the same fellow in front of him.
Security check takes about an hour.. cos’ we’re in the longest line and there is a change of guard at the security section.
I am hungry - so we settle down to devour some hot dogs (eesh at 7:30 AM). They even have a VEGETARIAN hot dog on offer these days!.
08:15AM (IST)
The airplane is firmly parked on the tarmac. Hey - what about the timely departure syndrome. We lift off at 08:45 and FYI - the Indian Airlines hostess is quite pretty - was expecting an old hag!! We’re still hungry - so a double helping of breakfast helps to quell the revolt of the rumbling tummy rats.
11:00 AM (DST)
The plane lands. I’m expecting drums and whistles. Nothing happens. Jatin is watching my excitement with a twinkle in his eye. He has gone through most of this in his years of international travel and has that “been there - done that” look.
It’s a long walk to the luggage collection area and my bag takes its own sweet time to round the bend. I was wondering if they forgot it in Delhi or sent in on a connecting flight to someplace else. No funny questions at the immigration check and we’re outside in the sun. Yep - it’s hot!! So off come the sweaters and we’re into a DUBAI TAXI. These are high end cars by Indian Road standards and it is heartening to hear HINDI music, even if the driver is Pakistani. He cracks a few jokes at Indias expense but we’re not in the mood to reply. He has been here for umpteen years and proceeds to give us a breakup of how life has worsened, prices have escalated and maybe things would have been different, had India not given up control of Dubai in 1963.
That last one was a bouncer and had us stumped. Both, Jatin and I looked at each others faces - perplexed and then just nodded in agreement. yes - things could have been different in Dubai
12:30 PM (DST)
The hotel - PALM BEACH - a 3 star establishment - reminds one of home. Mostly South asians here. There is the Punjabi family of 6 heckling with the guy at the travel desk for a good tour deal and there’s the bar christened - TODDY SHOP!! Our rooms are not yet ready - so we put the stuff with the concierge and attempt to get to the convention centre. We’re here on work after all!!
Try hailing down a Taxi here. They just don’t stop. And I don’t think that there are enough of them anyways!!
02:00 PM (DST)
We get to our destination after a bit of huffing and puffing. A few bureaucratic procedural minutes later - we arrive at our stall - 625 in hall 7! Our stuff is yet to come....
It arrives after some consternation and we take an hour to set things up. Most of the women are of chinese, korean or filipino origin The exception being the one who travelled with us from Delhi and the Gujju behn in the adjacent stall!
We finish our work and head back t the hotel. The room is still not ready. She offers a king size double bed ... but we’d rather wait and give them time to setup the twin beds!
05:30PM (DST)
A taxi is hailed and we set off to do some mall hopping in Dubai. The first stop is at the Mall of the Emirates. It is also the last stop of the day. This is HUGGEE.. and I mean like in a superlative of the term. It’s the one with an indoor snow park and has like - wow - tons of avenues to spend money. The only purchase today is my iWORK 08 software for my MACbook - cos that as necessary and it ain’t available in India. That purchase is the reason I was able to compose this blog post
We finish off with a Turkish meal at the restaurant - called PASHA. The kebabs were really filling and since neither of us had had lunch - we ran thru the portions served to us.
08:30PM (DST)
It must be something about the color of my skin. From the waiter in the restaurant who served us a bowl of bread short or the fact that the concierge is extra sweet with the FIRANGs. Yes - i understand that Indians are commonplace here - but it’s just that sometime you want to feel like a guest I’ve gotten better treatment in hotels in India with a lower Star rating. So both the brothers are bushed. We head back to the hotel and crash for the day! I sit up another 30 mins - putting thoughts to screen!

Tomorrow is another day....