It took me two visits to fall in love with Dubai.
Soaring temperatures greeted me when I first brushed shoulders with the city. Having travelled before, I quickly drew comparisons between Asia’s pedestrian friendly cities to Dubai’s multiple lane highways.
Bright sunlight reflected from beaches soaked in gentle waves dazed me whilst deserts remained parched under an unforgiving sun. I had had enough of sunshine and coastlines in my hometown, Vizag. This maiden visit to Dubai didn’t tempt me enough to return for a second time.
Was I wrong?
Soon after my return, I yearned for the soaring futurist skylines of the harbour city. It wasn’t until long that I packed my bags again; ready to board a flight to Dubai. Only this time, I wasn’t visiting; I was now a resident of the city.
The sun burned my back as I got into cabs, metros and buses. This city wasn’t designed for backpackers. I had enough time and dived into its culture and went on metro rides to the old and new of Dubai. As I explored the city deeper, I felt pangs of homesickness. The terrain felt familiar not because I had been here before, but Dubai seemed to be as large or as small as Vizag!
Streets freckled with women in black Abayas and men in white Kandoras complemented each other like yin-yang. Over styled beards, musky perfumes and cakey makeup that Arab locals sported amused me on my quiet escapades.
Another baffling discovery was Dubai’s tea culture.
If Paris’ bistros came with a desert backdrop, it would be an archetype of Dubai dining. Several cafes offered sizzling shawarmas which oozed tahina (sesame sauce.) Every cafe was a drive through with Indian waiters ready to serve a cup of piping hot Karak Chai for a Dirham. I enjoyed my tea in an air-conditioned SUV because Dubai’s sweltering heat hindered customers from enjoying an alfresco gourmet.
Winter nights were pleasant and offered a significant happening. Endless invitations to barbeques and bonfires in the chilly darkness of the Arabian Desert was the closest I got to nature.
Dubai’s nightlife is easier done than said. Nightclubs and lounges are plenty but a boat ride across Dubai’s Creek is nothing short of magic. A two Dirham ride on a small motorboat across the ‘Abra’ was the most affordable activity I wallowed in.
An indulgence worth mentioning was an overnight stay in the desert conservation resort; Al Maha. Setting me back by 3,700 Dirham; I opted for a ‘Bedouin Suite’ nestled in the tranquillity of a desert. The suite was set up with handcrafted comforts and minimum gadgets. An outdoor plunge pool separated the suite from the open desert which lay outside. I woke up the next morning to an Oryx lapping up water from the pool, indifferent to my presence.