Monday, March 23, 2009

Coming to Dubai

First week in March of 2008 when I relocated myself to realize the Dubai dream I was overwhelmed by the sheer scale of things in this city. Living in Dubai is completely a different experience than visiting the city for a day or transiting by its airport. I was speechless as I discovered a city so vibrant and so full of life with so much of glitz all around. I was put up in a service apartment on the Sheikh Zayed road and used the public transport to commute to and from my office in Deira. It was almost like a skiing, could not have been smoother. I used to wonder while it only takes 15 minutes travel to and back from my workplace, why is all this fuss that people make about Dubai Jam.
Soon I realized that it was only the beginner's luck that worked in my favor when I had to wait only for a few minutes to get my morning taxi while a phone call to the RTA call center used send me a taxi to get me home safe and sound. The rude awakening came as I found out it is was not only difficult to get through to the to the call center but even if you got through the cab does not show up half the time. Having accepted my new found reality, I started to get settled in those conventional terms.
Getting an apartment was much difficult than one would have imagined. The city veterans rightly advised that if I got to have an apartment here I need to move around with my cheque book. But nothing came my way that satisfied my taste even if I discount the fuss of  the Architect in me and more importantly that fitted the wallet. I kept stretching my budget and drifting away from downtown Dubai. With a bit of divine assistance, I finally managed to get an apartment.
Oh What a feeling!
Honestly I was not as exuded even when we took possession of our own apartment back home.
Now that I have moved to my new home, I have to liberate myself from those long queues for taxis and indefinite wait for the bus. Travelling by bus is fun as long as you have a place to seat and the odor around is not intolerable. The good thing is that one can survive on the public transport system in Dubai particularly when the family is yet to join you. But my life and my job called for a driving license and independence that came with it. After all I it is difficult not to see oneself zooming all around this land of opportunity.
Backed by 3 other valid GCC driving licenses in my pocket I marched to the offices of RTA beaming with confidence. But alas! I have to appear for test and sit not only in front of the computer but also behind the steering wheel. I said to myself... I am driving in the region for 10 years, these tests are going to be a cakewalk. The signal test was while the driving test wasn't. I flunked the first test and had to have an instructor and complete 6 lessons. After seeing me drive and looking at my other licenses the trainer asked me in Hindi "Do they intend to make a pilot out of you?" Umm! well... maybe!!
Finally after almost 3 months of my tryst I got my hand on the most sought after object de art, all shiny and golden with my face nicely framed in one corner. I felt like throwing my hat in the air and leap with joy and freeze that picture forever.
Now that I have the license, I have come to realize that getting the most coveted thing in this dreamland is not the end of this long , exciting and somewhat tiring journey ...... it just the beginning. But that is another story and to be told another day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Random Act of Kindness

Today the internet has become a part of our life, so much so that we now have a mental condition where in the patients suffers from a disorder that arises out of not being able to access the internet. People find it difficult to handle the situation where they cannot access the Google to search for something that came accross their mind. This might be an extreme condition, but it is quite normal to use internet for their day to day life in staying connected and staying enlightened. None of these can be termed as selfless acts even if these are not selfish but we seldom put back to the web as much as we seem to have taken from it.
The article that I came across in a weekend magazine is about spreading the good word and is a complete eye opener. It all started when young Melissa Morris-Ivone encountered a polite gesture from a fellow human being; a gesture which used to be part of a normal day's work in the good old times. Today we are in a world of cut throat competition. With all the madness around we have changed so much from what our forefathers used to be. Probably this jusitfies why a simple act of kindness and politeness made such a big impact and she decided to use the internet to spread the good word. She came up with the idea of starting OperationNice.com where people can contribute any act of kindness that they happened to be part of. In a world where selfishness and cruelty are part of daily life we definitely need more of these.
This took me back to a car bumper sticker which read "do a random act of kindness today" and this may quite turn out to be a contagious act. If everyone of us does a random act of kindness as part of our daily life we could actually make a big difference to this world. Talking of Bumper sticker another issue crosses my mind. The driving ethics of people here in Dubai. How selfish some people are here and it hurts me to observe how so many people fail to look or think beyond their very own self. They shamelessly use the bus drop off or a parallel internal road to cut the queue and go before you without any remorse totally ignoring the sentiments of us who have been waiting patiently for our turn. You say to yourself that next time I am going to do the same but your conscious does not allow you, neither can you stop them from doing that. Could we not start a campaign the Gandhi way and try to change them? could we not do some thing like a "random act of kindness" so that they too feel pity about themselves as we do for them for lacking basic humane qualities!! This is just an idea......