Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2007

The flight

As we ascended to lofty heights and houses diminished in size, the vast British coastline was clear from above. At an altitude of 37000 feet, the earth looked picturesque. From my window seat, the beautiful green pastures, adjacent to one another with hedge-defined boundaries, looked like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. It looked just like a picture from Google Earth – just more real. Soon enough clouds resembling huge quantities of froth suspended in mid air gently floated past us. Yet they seemed somewhat still and motionless, except for the few diverted clouds that were, like soft pieces of cotton, driven by the wind far below us. Tired of starring out into the open, I reclined uncomfortably in my chair and tried to sleep. We were above Bucharest by then.

I closed my eyes for what seemed like a few minutes, but by the time I opened them Bucharest was now far behind, as the on-screen map showed, and we were right above Iraq. We have crossed the Black Sea and by then light had given way to dark, and there I sat starring into an endless labyrinth of darkness and my reflection. I could see below, through the clear skies and odd patches of clouds, that the cities below resembled millions of glittery stars adjoined in irregular patterns, trailing off to somewhere in the dark before disappearing from sight. This continued until we reached Dubai.

The Airport

At the airport, haughty Arabs, with flowing white silk dresses and sandals occupied the seats at the Passport Control, just before the Baggage Claim area. With a disdainful flick of his finger, he beckons the next passenger and reclines back in his chair, staring into space, if not ogling the female passengers around. Once the passenger presents his passport to him, he then works at a snail’s pace, contemptuous in his manner, and callous in response. You could almost feel the sense of pride that consumes him from the way he talks to people apathetically.
About seven or eight queues formed parallel lines in front of the passport control, and two separate queues for GCC nationals, where a few Arabs stood. The other queues were all jam-packed with people of every descent – majority of which were Indians. Whenever an Indian man presented his passport to him, he’d look up at him, without moving his head and slightly lifting his brows up, with scorn. And once when a man went the wrong way, he’d shouted at him, “kya damaakh nai hein” (what, don’t you have a brain?), pointing his open hand to his temples. The poor Indian man simply turned and walked the other way with a smile and shake of the head, whilst the Arab watched with revulsion.

Ignoring us, he then called the few Arabs at the GCC line and started stamping their passports, even though they had separate queues and checking points of their own. Favouritsm here is accepted, for no one said a word.

The Weather

An oppressing wave of heat accosted me as soon as I stepped outside into the Greeting Area. Immediately, tiny beads of sweat appeared on my face, my hands felt clammy and my jeans damp under the humidity, while I gasped irritably for some air to fill my lungs. In front of me, hundreds of dark faces, with sweat dripping from their foreheads, stood packed like sardines, leaning on the metal barriers and each fighting for some space at the front. Their eyes followed each exiting passenger with an imploring look. None of them was Arab or wearing Arabic clothing. For once I questioned whether British Airways has taken a detour to India and left me stranded, for everyone there was of the Indian Subcontinent.

By the time I found my friend at the exit, I was sodden with sweat. It felt like walking right through a furnace, with extremely hot air scalding your skin. Thankfully, all the cars, houses, shops, restaurants, etc are equipped with air conditioners.

The next day I woke up at about 12 and after a quick shower decided to have a feel for the outside world. Stepping out from the luxury of my cool apartment, I went out. But as soon as I set a foot outside, hot air slapped me across the face and I retreated in defeat.

The best times to go out, as I later learnt, were not during the day, but evenings. At about 7pm, a mild wind blows from the ocean and sweeps across the city. It is not cold, but bearable and that’s when the city comes to life, bustling with activity and Arabs.

Tip: drink a lot of water and always keep a face towel in hand.

The people

Behind their immaculate exteriors and musk –soaked bodies lie putrid souls and stagnated minds. During the sweltering heat of the day, you would be hard-pressed to find an Arab guy with his silk robe walking the streets of Dubai. Lazy as they are, they eat off the strength of the poor Indians who are labouring day and night to pay their costs of living and sending money back to their countries. With an ostentatious display of wealth and lassitude, the Arab man parks his 4X4 in front of the grocery store, give two hoots on the horn and waits for the Indian man to come out, gives him the money and orders his goods.

It is their inert natures and gluttonous eating habits that their obesity is credited to. At night time, majority of the Arabs roam about aimlessly in their tinted 4X4s, to and fro the city, leering at girls wherever they find them. They go to malls, walk around, hunting for their prey, but never getting to devour it. Whenever a female is spotted, loud hoots are emitted from the car and bellows of delight fill the car as it slows down and the tints are rolled down.

Their women too, having reached a point of frustration from idly sitting at home, now do the same thing. It is like watching a pathetic flirting scene – where the man and woman constantly gyrate around each other with smiles, winks, nods of the head, waves of the hands, each keeping a safe distance that which cannot be breached. This is how the night is spent and the same routine is executed night after night, except for Ramadan when care races are taking place throughout the cities.

For people of such lifestyles, their arrogance is unmatched. The word discrimination here is held in a class of its own and given its own abode, festooned with all the decorative charms of injustice. A Pakistani friend of mine, describing his life here, once remarked “they don’t have to respect you.” Another friend who was born here, but also of Pakistani origin, said “you have no rights here even if you were born here. You and the guy who came yesterday are the same – the only difference is you know the city and he doesn’t.”

In Sharjah and Ajman, the police have the authority to do as they please. If they stop you they will take out their ‘Egal’ – the black rope that rests on top of the turban on their head – and lash you across the face with it if they wish. In Dubai things are a bit different for Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid has taken stringent measures to ensure that the law is respected by all.

With their disproportionate bodies and gluttonous bellies coupled with a strange sort of gratuitous arrogance, theirs is a life of pomposity and hedonism. Their survival as a country and as a nation depends on foreign strength and their economy would instantaneously crumble down if all the hard working people of the Indian Subcontinent were to leave UAE for their homes. I doubt they will have the necessary skills since majority of them, getting monthly allowances, homes and cars from the government, haven’t yet taken a dip into the labour pool.

But not all the Arabs are contemptible. The ones that behave like this are called “Mujawazin” – they are people of Iranian, Balochi and Zanzibari descent given citizenship a long time ago. The Bedouins, who are the natives of UAE, are the most genial of people I hear, and its these adopted breeds that are polluting the country.

Places to see

I have been shopping for my trip to Somalia, so I haven’t had the time to enjoy and take pictures, but I will be coming back to Dubai at the end of August and by then I plan to explore more of the city. Await pictures then…

I am flying to Somalia tonight insha-Allah and if I get an internet connection, every now and then, I will drop you a line…

Take care folks!

Read Full Post »

Farewell

Dear Friends,

The time has come for me to pack my bags. Actually I have already packed my bags. I am headed for home. In a lapse of ambivalence, a feeling of anticipation and nervousness has already filled me. I envisage myself already resting under the shade of a tree tending to some camels in the wilderness of the Miyi; milking my camels every now and then whilst they drink or graze in the vast expanse.

And they know I am headed for home too. Sometimes I don’t even know how news travels so fast across continents. I have not told ANYONE of the exact date that I will be landing in Somalia, yet for some reason everyone (family and relatives) is already anticipating my arrival. I have been informed that a vast number of people are already waiting for me at my destination. And it is not so much that I am averse to being welcomed and received with open arms in my motherland by my nearest and dearest – no, it’s their intentions that worry me. Majority of them will be coming, each with their own necessities and stories of destitution. They really know how to spin a yarn. And with so much suffering and difficulties, I am not without compassion towards them or their conditions. Indeed one must commend them for their undying fortitude in the face of adversity, but at times I feel like what they expect of me is beyond what my meagre resources allow me to provide. I will give everything I have, but sometimes even that is not enough. Well, God is the provider!

Well, this will be my last post from London as I am flying tomorrow morning. I reach Dubai tomorrow evening and be assured that I will send you a word about the city once I explore it.

Until then, So Long friends, So Long!

p.s I haven’t even had the time to get some Malaria tablets! pray for me.

Read Full Post »

sunset2.jpg

There was silence. Nothing moved. I have left behind the blaring horns of the busy streets and the impurities of the vitiating air and headed for the banks of the river Thames. I have even deserted the little stream behind my house where a reservoir of calm, clear waters languidly flows through the middle of the small Broadwaters neighborhood, giving it a tranquil feel. Along the banks of the stream, weeping willows dangled their branches lazily upon the water below with pleasant reflections. I used to spend most of my evenings there, sitting on one of the ageing brown benches beside the willow tree lost in contemplation. But now that has changed, for the Thames River provided a cleaner air, a better view and a vast space.

As I sat along its banks, some grass beside me, tickled by the soothing breeze hissed continuously, swaying from side to side. The surface of the water, unruffled and silent except for the tiny waves created by the wind sailing across it, shimmered in the setting sun, reproducing a picturesque scene patterned with intermingling colours of orange, grey and gold. And as they floated across the surface, the crests of each wave created a magnificent interplay between the tones of the colours reflected. A few feet away from me, soft splashing sounds emanated from the gentle lapping of the waves against the banks of the river.

Inhaling a lungful of the clean air, I lifted my eyes up, slowly, to the Docklands and above to the skies. Under the glowing clouds, the sky was bustling with activity – a stunning display of aerobatics and some spectacular dives were in effect. Several birds have taken to the air, soaring and diving before gently landing on the serene water surface. Then the black plumage of what appeared to be a blackbird flipped its wings a few times and looped around the surrounding trees in gentle twirls before landing on another tree and disappearing from sight, but not from my ears, as its melodious sounds wafted soothingly through the air. It wasn’t long before others of its kind joined and a cacophony of sounds pleasant to the ear, strangely enough, erupted.

At some distance away, but not far from sight, another bird landed; a rather shy bird, keeping its distance well away from me. And beautiful too; with black and white markings highlighted with a lustrous tinge of blue, green and purple and a long gleaming tail. The Magpie is a striking bird and its flight is delightful to watch. A bane for most gardeners though, its hoarse cackling call alone is enough to send shudders down their spine; and it is often associated with evil. What such a humble bird could have done to warrant such loathing and how anyone could find the sight of such an elegant creature objectionable is totally beyond my grasp, but I caught sight of it as I sat there along the banks of the Thames. And it looked magnificent.

Conspicuous with its elongated tail, the Magpie started flapping its wings once or twice before soaring up to the lower branches of a tree. Enclosed in the ovoid overlapping leaves, it then began its lively chatter. In England it is, traditionally, unlucky to see one on its own or so they say. The victims, it is widely believed, must either cross themselves, spit three times over their right shoulder, raise their hats or chant ‘Devil, devil, I defy thee’ upon the sight of a Magpie, but these are mere superstitions; just as the thousand superstitions we have in our country involving animals. I stood there, transfixed, eyes set on the tree, pleasantly admiring its delightful cackles.

Several other birds were gliding effortlessly above. I watched them in earnest and mulling over their exceptional sense of freedom, I felt a lovely breeze running through my body. It was then that the limitations in my life became apparent. I envied their infinite independence. They too, I thought, must envy something about us. But then, by just watching them, a feeling of stillness descended upon one. I sat there, quiet and composed. I wished I could sprout wings at that very instant and fly with them and take to the skies. And for that short moment the thoughts occupied my mind, I was with them. I felt the wind on my winds, combing my feathers and caressing my tail. I saw London from above. Well, one would be lost in contemplation standing on that bank on a cool summer evening watching the sun lowering into the horizon. And though I tried to describe it here to the best of my effort, the impalpable feeling this place gives me is beyond measure. Tranquil is the word I thought of as a myriad of fancy thoughts absorbed my mind and I surrendered to the influence of the lulling atmosphere.

One word of advice – don’t stay there too long, you might be sucked in to tranquility!

Read Full Post »

TRIAL 

(clockwise from top left): Muktar Said Ibrahim, Yassin Omar, Hussain Osman and Ramzi Mohammed. Photograph: Metropolitan Police/PA Source

 

Four men convicted of the 21 July bomb plot have been jailed for life, with a minimum tariff of 40 years each.

Muktar Ibrahim, 29, Yassin Omar, 26, Ramzi Mohammed, 25, and Hussain Osman, 28, were found guilty on Monday.

Their plot to detonate explosives on three Tube trains and a bus in London in 2005 was a “viable… attempt at mass murder”, the judge said.

Two other men – Manfo Kwaku Asiedu and Adel Yahya – face a retrial after the first jury failed to reach a verdict… Read more

Read Full Post »