Back to life, back to reality went my head as I landed at Bengaluru airport.
I miss the metro already, and the all-in-one travel card. I missed the Arabic singsong that went Al-habua Tuqlaq (from what my ear could make out) which translated meant the doors are closing. But most of all I miss the freedom to be where I want, whatever time I want, however I want, without having to worry about getting groped, mauled and leered.
I have the Dubai Hangover real bad.
Fresh air and plenty of exercise I was living a modern Enid Blyton tale (only our picnics were at the Malls, and the pic you see here became one of my favourite malls – the Ibn Battuta Mall. So named for the explorer who traversed 3 continents). Nothing could have prepared me for Dubai. This hotspot isn’t all sun and sand and futuristic buildings that always seem to take me to Flash Gordon comics and Ming’s empire.
Morning, noon or evening, no matter what, i heard chirping. Hoopoes, munias, barbets, babblers, sparrows, indian roller, silver beaked munias, himalayan bulbuls, parakeets, crows, sea gulls, a falcon (the trainer said i could get photographed along with the falcon if i forked out 100 dirhams) and i think i even heard a peacock, perhaps that was just my over-excited imagination.
After 10+years of holding a valid passport I was lucky to get 3 visas stamped in a span of over 365 days. And in this case the first is still the most memorable. Beautiful Bhutan.
i did not have the energy to climb the whole 900 metres to pay my obeisance to Guru Rinpoche and the other monks at the the Taktsang Palphug Monastery taking the aide of a mule and kicking a frenchman on my way up (inadvertently of course) but the short 3 kilometer walk was enough to have me remember there is a GOD.
my lungs used to Co2 cried for mercy as they inhaled fresh, pure oxygen. It was killing!
You can read more about that unforgettable trip here.
And between this ancient, constitutional monarchy and a modern, federal monarchy was my trip to that mecca of capitalism, the U.S.of A. Armed with my historic knowledge of federal political system, my journalistic grasp of the financial crisis, my media monitoring knowledge of the immigration process and my childhood knowledge of Archies I stepped into SFO Airport.
Serpentine queues, frisking and curt officialdom later I took a cab to San Jose, my destination. In the fortnight I stayed there I was just struck by one aspect we lacked. Punctuality. Meetings would start on time and end at the designated hour.Cabbies would arrive at the second and fume and leave if we came even a breathing sec late. IST was just not tolerated!
What I did not like. I had to wash my own dishes. I had to lift my heavy luggage. I had to clean the mess I made. I had to wait my turn.
Back to life, back to reality.
Even as I write this I have to finish 3 articles, draft an announcement, clean up a power point presentation and in the midst of all this finish eating dinner that mum has so lovingly placed on the table.
Eerily, I recollect my first week back home after being overseas for a month and more.
An errant towing truck taking an illegal U-turn and a speeding driver busy talking on his phone caused this damage to our car.
We had to tow away the car. Ironic!
No, it wasn’t the towing truck that banged into us which towed away our car. That would have been a fairytale ending, isn’t it?! Rather like having the court tell the rapist to marry his victim!!
And to think that we were traveling at a sedate 30kmph and actually waited for the towing truck to complete the U-turn over the dividing intersection onto the other side of the road with heavy traffic both ways.
There would not have been an accident.
It would have been like any other day when 2-wheelers and trucks decided to take U-Turns at places where they cannot and are not supposed to.
It would have been like any other day when we would helplessly watch pedestrians rush to and fro with cars,buses,autos, 2-wheelers and cows swing away trying to avoid squashing them.
It would have been like any other day.
This time we were unfortunate enough to patiently wait for the truck to pass instead of cursing and swerving the car dangerously to overtake the truck and move past with no heed of other cars or people or cows.
We were patient to have a car ram us from behind as the driver tried to juggle his phone, his conversation with the lady next to him and avoid us (the car in front – obviously his last priority).
Everybody who heard about this said, “Well thank God you are lucky, nothing happened to you. The family is ok. That’s all that matters.”
Well, yes, sure the family is ok and I thank God.
But this should not have happened. Had we not worn seat belts, you, my dear reader, would have read an obit in some of the popular local newspapers.
And I thank God, yes, Thank God we still have drivers who say, “Yaake isthake drive maadodhe bidbeku” (Translated: What you want us to give driving because of this?!) ; “Namma thappu alla, neevu yaake nillisabekaayithu. Bera jana thara speed maadi avoid maadbekaithu” (Translated: It is not our fault. You should not have stopped your vehicle. Like other people you should have avoided that truck and sped ahead instead of letting it pass).
Oh yes, I thank God for people like this and a country like ours where rules are meant to be broken.
Have a great year ahead dear reader. I just started mine !