Thursday, 18 February 2010

Layali Dubai

Last weekend we spent a whole evening at the Global Village. As you are aware of….oh you were not???? You are kidding……simply everybody knows!!!! You don’t…..Ok then I’ll start at the beginning –

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise alright, but a month-long extravaganza more famously known as the Dubai Shopping Festival[DSF] has millions of visitors flocking to Dubai between January & February every year. What started off as an initiative by the government to boost trade in the country has now transformed itself into an annual event; almost every shop, every Mall and souq in the city participates enthusiastically by announcing genuine sales and exciting promotions with the intention of enticing customers into emptying their pockets then and there .

And mind you its not all about shopping, there are also carnivals, street shows, concerts, children’s entertainment, fireworks, film festivals, extravagant raffle prizes and the famous Dubai World Cup horse race all offering a welcome break from the shopping frenzy.

And one of the major attractions is the Global Village[GV] which in 1996 was a small area along the Dubai creek which housed a mere 10-12 stalls selling handicrafts & wares from different countries. The novel theme gained so much popularity that now 14 years later around 45 countries from all around the world participate to showcase their merchandise, culture and cuisine. Like they say here; it’s probably the only place in the world where you can buy an intricately-woven Indian pashmina shawl, a Japanese bonsai and fresh Canadian Maple Syrup all from the same place.

Since the Global Village opens only in the evenings[4pm-1am] it is simply not possible to cover all the pavilions & enjoy the entertainment provided all in one day…..unless ofcourse we hurry really fast but then you end up more tired than a happy tourist.

The most popular pavilion - Chinese Pavillion
The most widely- accepted among all the pavilions are the Chinese and the Indian pavilion, which ofcourse is always crowded; people throng these pavilions like as if they’ll never get to see anything like it again. Though Africa, Thailand, Iran, Vietnam, Egypt and UAE do come a close second in terms of popularity.
The African Pavilion; the cheetah's mouth was their stage where they performed their traditional arts
It’s really fascinating, once inside a particular country’s pavilion you are sort of transported into their world. If one side of the pavilion has traditionally dressed traders selling clothes, handbags and footwear, from the other side yummy and exotic aromas will be enticing us to try the special dishes from their country. Another corner could be selling anything from paintings, dried flowers, intricately carved furniture or cleaning mops. And the outside of the pavilion will have a stage where performers will showcase their country’s traditional dances or arts.
They had these lovely Egyptian paintings on papyrus here, ready to be framed
Even though the Indian Pavilion is a must-see place we give it a miss due to lack of time or leave it till the end as we are familiar with most of the merchandise they display. And the fact that many media channels lie in wait to thrust their mikes into people’s faces to ask silly questions & riddles, all the more make us want to stay clear of the place;-P. Every year my mum will ask “I watch the DSF special on tv everyday and I keep searching for u. Everybody is there except u" she accuses me. And I’ll be like “Ma puh-leeeeze”!!!

A traditionally dressed tea- seller outside the Syrian pavilion

The children ofcourse start out enthusiastically from home but run out of steam half-way thru because of the amount of walking we have to do. Luckily there is this huge amusement park right next-door with all the wild rides & games which succeeds in rejuvenating their tired spirits;-D.
I don’t shop much, usually am just content to soak in the electric atmosphere but there’s one thing I always end up buying in dozens every year……magnets…yeah those fridge magnets….they are a major weakness;-(. Half the time I end up buying the same stuff what I pick every year and then studiously avoid looking at the better-half’s wry expression the rest of the way home.
No clue which pavilion this is but the picture was looking so good I had to include it

And then ofcourse we all crib……about the outrageous amount[dh10 per person] they charge as entrance fees when in the initial years we could wander in and out as we pleased or the fact that a simple shawarma which costs dhs3.50 in the bylanes of Dubai is a whopping dhs7.50 inside the GV. But it doesn’t ever stop us from going there again and again. Honestly the DSF doesn’t feel complete without a trip to the Global Village.

Years back in 2000[I think] the better-half & I were at the Global Village watching the Red Indians in their traditional attires sitting around, idly strumming their curious looking musical instruments, when a group of Arab men came and stood beside us. The leader of the Red Indians quickly got his troupe together and they gave this impressive performance on the spot. Curious at what prompted the spectacular show we turned to look at the Arab men and immediately recognized the present Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum standing tall and regal among the group of men. Although he was the crown prince then there was no fanfare or body-guards announcing his presence; he watched the performance for a few minutes and left like how he came…quietly and with no fuss.

This whole concept of the DSF and the Global village is actually The Ruler’s brainchild….he has pulled out all the stops to ensure that DSF remains a memorable occasion for everyone who participates in it. Every year there are more & more exciting events & prizes added; today it attracts more than 3 million visitors to Dubai every year. There is a lot more than I mentioned above like the Carpet Oasis where you’ll be spoilt for choice as you have over 150,000 carpets from different parts of the world to choose from. And the Gold Souq is a place you wont forget in a hurry, it is said that the Gold traders here sold jewellery worth Dh10 million each day and what’s more they give away 1 kg of Gold as Prize to a lucky winner everyday.

If any of you are planning to visit Dubai, do try to make it during this time when there is excitement in the air and the weather is at its best. I assure you that you’ll never go back disappointed.

Most Indians are familiar with the gulf countries but years back I remember meeting an American who never knew there was a place called Dubai. What about you, have you heard about the Dubai Shopping festival earlier???? Have you been here for it???? Are you planning to?????

*The title 'Layali Dubai' means DSF in Arabic
** 1 Dollar - 3.50 Dirhams

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Thank U Preeti for asking me:-)!!!!

Preeti Shenoy was putting up her 400th post and wanted to make it special. So she chose this novel way of inviting a ‘select’ few [ahem;-D] to answer a set of thought-provoking questions though in the beginning I thought they were more mind-numbing than provoking; oh you know me, I run at the 1st sight of emotion and here she was asking difficult questions about  Love, Death & such-like.

I so wanted to chicken out at first but was torn between 'feeling important' and thinking ‘have no clue what to write’.
I deliberated with lofty thoughts for a while and the page remained blank as ever, then finally slid down to the bottom and wrote like how I usually do. So yeah I sent in my answers and chewed my nails to nothing to release the tension.

And it’s up today. I’m so glad I made the effort, do go take a look here[1st part] and here[2nd part].

Thank You Preeti for asking me, it made me feel really good!!!!

Ps: Since it's not exactly a proper post as such, I have disabled comments

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A tough act to Follow

Below is a comment I posted today at Agnes blog. I thought I'll tell all of u about it as so many of u have kindly "Followed" me and I havent returned the compliment.
[ I have taken the liberty to edit it a bit here & there but the jist of the matter remains the same]

"Agnes I came here to confess.....I so wanted to follow ur blog but experience[and  a teeny-weeny bit of superstition] has taught me that the minute I blogroll or follow somebody they stop posting on their blog. U dont believe me....take my blogroll itself, initially there were atleast 12-14 blog links there, as soon as I blogrolled them 4 bloggers stopped writing.......yes, just like that;-o.

Within 2-3 months 3 more stopped. And now if u notice, except for Preeti Shenoy all the rest of them I personally have to go blog to blog bugging them to update;-(.

Almost the same thing happens when I watch cricket. As soon as I sit down comfortably, players start getting out for the silliest of reasons. When I stand up they are hitting 1's & 2's. As soon as I leave the room they are belting fours & sixes. So now I stand behind the curtain & peek;-(.

I love reading what you write Agnes and dont want to lose you for selfish reasons. I hope u do understand my dilemma and won't hold it against me."

ps: On the other hand, somebody has stopped following me around 4 days back. I spent atleast 2 hours trying to figure out who the blogger was but my memory is unreliable at the best of times. Be warned all of u who are hatching plans to stop following me, now I have all ur names down in alphatbetical order on my laptop & if I find anybody missing I'll......I'll......

Monday, 1 February 2010

A taste of things to come

Life seems to be just flying past!!! It’s already the 2nd month of the New Year. Where did the 1st month go???? All I know is that weekends keep popping up pretty regularly.....just finish one, pack everybody off to school and work, take a breather and the next one is already around the corner.

At the beginning of every year the 'Friday' Magazine[the weekly magazine of our newspaper] puts up this horoscope thingie for the whole year. I generally don’t give it much attention but ummm… give it a cursory glance. But this year the forecast was sooo good that I did a double-take, read it twice and then once again loudly to the better-half who responded by waggling his eyebrows like a Kathakali dancer;-/.

Oh let me go get that magazine for u…… I have kept it safely. I have never come across such a rosy and perfect forecast in my entire life…..ofcourse I kept it safely. Now if you'll just indulge me, I’ll borrow just one sentence from there & prove to you how powerful those words were “This year as they say in modern lingo, is going to rock”

According to them the 1st month of the year is ‘…extremely rewarding, you are going to be cheerful and contented…….will take a much-needed break & pamper yourself. A good period occurs between 2nd and 3rd week. Family life is harmonious’

Well, looks like they know what they are talking about. The better-half and I had a harmonious tiff at the end of the 3rd week and...

....on the 1st day we walked around with our respective noses[is there word like that???] in the air and talking extra politely while studiously avoiding eye-contact. By the end of the day I had doubts…..after all I did fly off the handle a bit and my birthday was around the corner, so I smiled sweetly when he came back home from office. He raised both eye-brows in doubt. I got mad and stalked off.

....On the 2nd day he looked like he wanted to make up but I was blazingly cheerful and content in the company of the kids that he hovered around for a while and then gave up.

...By the 3rd day I was climbing the walls and needed to get out of the house. I took off to the supermarket and did some shopping…….yeah well I was out of groceries anyway. It was a much needed break in the manner of speaking and I came back home all upbeat. When he came back home that evening we smiled tentatively at eachother and his favourite dishes were waiting for him for dinner.

....The 4th day was my birthday. Early morning even before I opened my eyes I could hear whispered conversation happening in the corner of the bedroom. Before I could get my bearings 2 bundles of energy leapt onto the bed and attacked me….ooops I meant hugged me tightly. A third pair of arms went around the 3 of us and in unison they sang the entire “Happy Birthday” song loud and off-key straight into my ears. I got 2 hand-made birthday cards from the children[which was taken from me every ½ an hour to make some changes], a pretty-looking eraser which was borrowed now & again to rub unimportant details off the greeting card and a lovely jewellery set from the better-half. Extremely rewarding that way, I tell you;-D

If this was January, I shudder to think what the February forecast means “Another month which will find you cheerful & contented *Nancy is cowering in the corner* Your family members may seek your wisdom and expertise in defusing a potentially troubling situation *And she kneels and looks heavenward for mercy*”

All of U will keep me in your prayers, won't you!!!!!