All you can Souk Middle Eastern Buffet
23.01.2013 - 29.01.2013
I have almost commited a had trick amongst faux pas on Dubai Transportation alone. I am however safe now as the authorities can't find me here in Kolkata. Yes I took the Metro from Dubai Airport, the most luxurious of transportation. Those we as until I realised that I was in Gold (first class). The following day I took the ladies only carriage and was told politely to join the mixed sex infidels in the rest of the train. The lovely sequined turquoise dress I was sporting clearly fooled nobody. The following day I saw a curious sign outlawing the transportation of fish on the Metro. Good job I noticed that as I had visions of having to hide the live tuna I had intended to purchase under my t shirt. Can you imagine having to explain the flapping about?
Dubai was just an after thought to the trip but am I glad I went. I was expecting a Middle Eastern Vagas or a gold plated Blackpool but there is much, much more to the place. For one thing, despite staying in a budget hotel, it was in a prime location. It was right in the big of the Gold Souq principally, but also near the perfume Souq, the spice Souq and more excitingly the kitchen utensil souq. Shop after shop of glittering jewelry. There is even a machine dispensing jewelry, anything from 80 quid a shot. You almost need sunglasses to protect you from the bling glare. For me though, the main draw was the close proximity to the atmospheric creek. In the past the Creek had been heavily dredged to allow for the vessels and Dow boats access to transport their ware. These fantastic wooden boats still line the Creek. For the princely fee of 18p you can get an old wooden boat across to the other side to see the immaculately and lovingly preserved old Dubai. 19th century merchant’s houses and forts have been turned into restaurants and forts.
You can never escape the dramatic backdrop of New Dubai. New York skyscrapers dominate the surroundings, including of course the 850 m Burj Khalifa. Everything is big in Dubai, including the biggest shopping centre in the world, right next to the aforementioned tower. The most impressive thing about the Trafford Centre for Sheiks was the huge Aquarium slap bang in the middle of it all. Apparently there are more than 400 types of sharks and rays alone.
Also crammed into my trip were a visit to the Arabian nights style Madina and the modern madina in the middle of skyscraper city. On the coast, best appreciated via the monorail is the staggering feat of engineering which is the palm. This is a mini city of a man made island literally shaped to look like a palm leaf. Before you ail rush out to get a mortgage though consider the fact that after only a few years it is sinking and the breakwater surrounding it is creating pretty smelly stagnant water. Guess Ill stick to Stockport. I even managed to don bathing burkher and sit on the beach overlooking the mega expensive Sail hotel, the one you never see on lastminute.com. All in all a great place for a stopover. The people have been very courteous to me. I have not been executed, let alone arrested. This is always a bonus.
You can almost roll pastry on the streets of Dubai, it is so clean. I wouldn't recommend it in Kolkata, unless of course you are an Imodium junky. So I arrived on the Saturday morning and was greeted by a chap ho has been in the service of my aunty and Uncle Gori and Nilhu for 23 years. The guy has 2 alternative first names, both are great, depends on the mood. He can be either Ram or Mighty. He is however quite a small chap and he has no horns. He greeted me as if he was on an arctic expedition, as was everyone else at the airport. It is their winter despite it being like a very pleasant English Spring.
I have now been in Kolkata for a few days and am having a good relaxing time visiting family and chilling out. This morning I visited a great aunt. She is a real Anglophile as she lived there for a few years. She is 87, a little frail but still her mind is very active. Wonderful character. Always reminiscing about the UK. I did worry though when I rang her up and she didn't recognise me. Babbling on in Bengali I thought she had forgotten the perfect English. Maybe a way of saying go away, your boring t and I don't want you round here. Or maybe she has lost it. I then realised that I was talking to the maid. Anyway she is fortunately still active although she has not been too well lately. Still finds time to do charity work for the Rotary club.
There was a communication issue when I took a taxi from the metro station to visit the 200 year old Park Street cemetery. "Park Street Cemetery". I announce. "Chemistry Street" he replies. No "Park Street Cemetery". "Ah, Chemical Tree". I decided to get off the taxi, get directions and walk, despite the implied risk of a biochemical hazard
I saw both sets of Aunties and Uncles including Roma and Tapan. They have a servant Deba, who is effectively like a surrogate son. He in turn has a 14 month old boy who they are now doting over like a surrogate grandson. Unlike many Indian kids his age he is not selling souvenirs’. Cliche alert - not true, just a gratuitous joke.
My family is spoiling me rotten. I am also getting to go out. The night I arrived I went to a wedding reception of my cousin's friend who has just managed a statuesque Parisian. She is so tall that I couldn't see her face although I believe she was beautiful. After that party there was another party full of arty and acting types. This included an artist, music producer, actress and film director. The film director makes low budget Tarentinoesque movies. No doubt a lot of violence interspersed with a lot of banal dialogue about the Chennai quarter pounder Chapatti Royale with cheese.
My cousin is a guy who has done really well for himself in the finance sector. I am meeting him and his boss for a drink at the Saturday club.
Whilst there I am g oing to air my views on the world bank and the post liquidity Tokyo Debenture Market.
Signing off. Stay tuned unless of course I become a vice president of the bank.Signing off.