Saturday, May 7, 2011

In Dubai – 1st May 2011

Normally an early riser, the late night kept me in bed till 8 am.  The hotel has an interesting arrangement for breakfast.  The voucher for breakfast at the hotel reception costs only 40 Dhs against the 50 Dhs charged in the restaurant.  The spread was mouth-watering but the mouth could not take as much as it should have.  The waiters were mostly youngsters from Kannur.
After breakfast I decided to catch up with a few friends in Dubai and had to travel to Jebel Ali Free Zone.  The route to Jebel Ali was not as crowded as it used to be in the past when I made trips to Jebel Ali during my days with DP World.  Nostalgia welled up.  It was once said that the National Bird of Dubai is ‘Crane’ for Dubai used to deploy the most number of cranes per sq km during the boom time.  With recession having taken its toll and projects having been scaled down the roads and work sites seemed free and empty.  The commissioning of the Metro must have also added to weaning traffic off the roads, which is indeed remarkable.
After meeting up with friends I decided to scout for an appropriate TV to buy.  I was given to understand that certain brands cost half of what it does in India.  Even factoring in the duty it makes sense to cart one home from Dubai.   I had set my mind on a Sony and visited Sharaf DG in Festival City to buy one.  Once I walked into the TV section of the showroom I was totally lost and confused.  Every brand had its own merits and some of them came with bundled freebies.  Despite the vast selection I decided to go with the Sony.  The youngster handling customers in the TV section brightly told me that they would deliver and install the TV in two days.  When I said I have a flight to catch the next day he told me that I would not be able to get the model of Sony I had zeroed in on anywhere in Dubai within 48 hours.  So my challenge was to like one that could be bought to accompany me on the flight to Bangalore in the next 24 hours.  The next choice was an LG – again out of stock.  Then I settled for a Panasonic 42” that would give me a Blue Ray DVD free with it for 2499 Dhs.  While it was out of stock in Sharaf DG I was told that the Panasonic showroom near the Fish Roundabout would be able to service my requirement.  Thus, having finalized the TV to be bought I went to the IKEA showroom to scout for anything interesting for the new flat in Cochin.  I picked up some and was ready to leave when Binu (Mathew Zacharia) arrived at the store to pick me up.  Binu is Chitra’s brother, about who I had written in my blog of 2nd October 2010.  Binu and I grew up together as neighbors for many years. We were the smart kids on the block during our times and have had our share of fun under the sun including many hours of ‘gulley’ cricket.  Binu is a top executive with the Kanoo group in Dubai and we share a lot in common, much of which I would not like to commit to a blog.  Suffice to say that I enjoy his company and that of Meena, Binu’s wife, who is the quintessential teacher that loves to be engaged in the development of the GenNext.  Binu is passionate about movies, cricket and football – he continues a family tradition.  He has downloaded nearly 450 movies in Blue Ray format from many sites and stored them on a 1 TB external hard disk.  The clarity of the playback is awesome.  I have requested him to copy the same for me too.  Even if I am not able to delight in viewing all of them the thought of having the collection is in itself a delight.  After a few pleasant hours in their company I insisted on taking a Metro ride back to the Hotel.
When the Metro was in the planning stage and later on when it was being built I got to see many artists’ impressions of the stations.  They were to have rivaled the Moscow Metro in grandeur.  The recession seems to have scaled back the grandeur for the Metro is very functionally designed and maintained.As in the West and in the Far East, the Metro is easy to use in Dubai and well mapped out for the debutant.

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