>Quite exactly like Ian Wright, the host of much-popular TV show “Lonely Planet” or now known as “Globe Trekker” on Discovery Channel, my tour in UAE also continued courtesy a rare 3-day weekend provided by the company. And yes, now having visited 4 cities & 3 emirates in the UAE, I am in a better position to analyse all of them.
Al-Ain is by far one of the most beautiful cities I have seen. Very very green and definitely, a place which my parents would love to stay. It’s amazing that Al-Ain has been maintained so beautiful, so green by the ruling authorities. Everywhere you would find gardens. Lots of open spaces. Not a single building allowed more than 3 floors. Just a very serene and calm place to live.
On the contrary, Abu Dhabi is a concrete jungle – a highly consumerist emirate and only buying and selling takes place here. There is lack of open space, lack of greenery and the serenity – just a like a cosmopolitan city in India. Ditto Dubai. Additionally, Dubai is a financial centre. Sharjah is very good and neatly developed – the roads are designed very well along the coast and it really is amazing to walk down the coast. Having said all that, Al-Ain is a place where children can be reared by parents and taught a lot of things – especially to fall in love with nature.
The view from the amazing Jebel Hafeetmountains are a sight to behold for the adventurers. The drive to the top was equally stunning. In between the mountains, they have constructed a green garden with lot of open spaces to play especially for children. On the rocks, they have got soil and grass from different places and constructed it on the mountains. Right at the top of the mountain, one can see the splendid view of deserts extending far and wide in every direction – In the west direction, the desert proceeds towards the Liwa Oasis and further west, you would reach the border of Saudi Arabia. If you look south-east, you would find the plains extending into Oman. And just as I was admiring this splendid view and taking a pic of my friend, a ferocious red-colour bee stung me right through my shirt. The burning sensation was terrible and despite water treatment, the burning didn’t subside. Finally, as a precautionary measure, I had to be taken to a doctor for an anti-allergic injection. Thankfully nothing much happened and the pain subsided in a few days’ time.
Al-Ain shares its border with Oman. Infact, there is place called Burayami near Al-Ain which is actually in Oman but is bordered by UAE on 3 sides. Interestingly, it’s easy for anyone to drive down into Buruyami from Al-Ain and so I can proudly claim to have visited another country itself !!!!!!!!!! A special mention here has to be made of Kartik’s parents at whose place I spent that night amidst some very good food and company and lots of discussion. Indeed, they made it memorable for me by taking me on long drives in Al-Ain.
From Al-Ain, I caught a mini bus to Sharjah. Listening to “Yuhi Chala Chal Rahi” and going again and again through the maps (which I had xeroxed courtesy my french colleague at office) at every highway indicator, my journey to Sharjah was indeed memorable. On reaching there, it was easy to see why Sharjah is so different – the crowds seemed to pour in and finally the city feeling dawned on me. I soon called up Chetan and he directed to reach their place. After a simple but delicious lunch of Puris, Subji and Dahi, we made our way to Dubai for a pravachan by one guru in India – Pandurang Athavle. Despite not being so much into spirituality as my other friends (Sachin, Namrata S and Akshat are), I still liked listening to his lecture. After about an hour, we made our way back to Sharjah in Chetan’s dad’s car.
As always and it has to be expected from me, I told Chetan that I would like to visit the Sharjah cricket stadium before other things. His dad drove us and despite initially being sceptical as to whether we would be allowed inside or not, I and Chetan managed to muster enough courage to go inside.
To our extreme surprise, the person standing outside the entrance allowed us to go inside without the slightest hitch. And then it was just – WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I couldn’t believe my eyes that all this was happening in reality. I couldn’t believe I was looking down the same pitch where once the majestic GOD danced down the track to smack Warne over the top, where he made mince-meat of Kasprowicz and where he showed Australia their rightful place under the sun !!!!!!
Soon after spreading my excitement to my parents and amidst some wonderful camera-work, video-shooting aided with excellent commentary from Chetan, we made our way to the pitch. I touched the pitch and felt like kissing it but somehow, my expression always stops short of actually doing it. Nevertheless, I looked at the sky, down the pitch, all around the stands and a feeling sunk into me – perhaps all this was meant to happen. I felt that good things and special memories (sooner or later) always happens to people who are true in their nature. I thought of all the coincidences, the unbelievable miracles and beautiful sights which I have encountered in life so far- and felt why these things happened to me? GOD is truly great and I am happy he showers his best as also the worst on true people. No in-between stuff !!!!!!
Soon, we found ourselves in the Central Souq – a marketplace in the heartland of Sharjah. Chetan was excited all the while and it is extremely nice to have such people for company when you are visiting new places. We roamed around the coast, were exposed to a mini desert-storm which forced us back to our hut. Then we attended a Ganesh puja at Chetan’s friend’s place. India truly didn’t appear too far from there !!!!
Rounding off the night with some extremely thought-provoking discussion with Chetan, I made my way back next morning, half-sleepy and most definitely tired, back to Abu Dhabi. A truly memorable trip had ended !!!
Despite the work pressure, I am looking to make things memorable for myself over the weekend. Often, I visit friends and distant relatives in Abu Dhabi. I am extremely happy to find a decent group of expatriates who are from Bombay and are living here and continuously try and engage myself in cricket and soccer on weekends.
And yes, I am excited about my impending trip to Egypt in mid-Oct. Just waiting for my leave request to be approved by my boss !!!!!!!! 🙂
And beyond that, there is my rotational trip back to India in late December. I look forward to that – hope all my friends would be there to celebrate New Year with me.