Dawn breaks, I open the curtains and gaze at the Dubai skyline. A crane in the background reminds me that it is a city which is continuing to grow. The beautiful skyline also reminds me that I am the last person to be leaving the hotel. What a contrast it is going to be compared to yesterday.
Yesterday at breakfast, the restaurant was buzzing with goodbyes and hugs. Dubai Creek was the destination in the morning after checkout. Most of the group made their way to the attraction. The rest stayed back to make use of the gap to visit family and friends.
After Rafia’s hospitality it was her niece’s turn. Shirani picked us up after getting a bit lost as Rafia directed her to Dinesh’s house by mistake instead of the hotel. A short drive later we were walking into one of the most beautifully decorated houses I have had the opportunity to visit. A house which could easily feature in one of the many house keeping magazines that I have leafed through. Over the years I have realised how difficult it is achieve such a look. Randomly putting a few photos or ornaments together on the wall or on the shelf never works, you need the talent and eye to know what goes with what and boy does Shirani have what it takes. As if the refreshments were not enough we were also given a beautifully wrapped gift, as we said our goodbyes to Shirani’s lovely family. I later opened it to find one of the most prettiest picture and daintiest frames that I have seen.
We got to Dubai Creek, just as the Dolphin show was ending and everyone was coming out. At this point I must write something about Dolphin and sea life shows. There was a time in my distant past when swimming with dolphins was on the top of my list of things to do. I have visited the Sea World in Orlando and watched the show, but then I started reading news items about the controversies surrounding these shows. It all came to a point when it took the death of a trainer to realise that it was not the Orca’s fault but the conditions in which it was kept in that caused the tragedy. These are intelligent animals which are not meant to be kept in captivity to be trained for our entertainment. If you read about the ways in which they are captured, bred and separated from their pods I don’t think we will see the shows with the same outlook. Without knowing these details it is understandable why people make these mistakes by visiting these shows. For someone who climbed on to a poor camel and made him walk around in circles, I may sound like a hypocrite but I hope a time will come when these practices stop and the more people who know about it the better I think.
Rafia had arranged for more games for everyone in the park. One last bonding session before lunch and before everyone made their return journeys. It was time to assemble the troops and have some fun. Unfortunately it was time for me to say my goodbyes. I had arranged to meet up with my school friends at the Deira city centre. Goodbyes are never pleasant and to say goodbye to a big group who I was now leaving with fond memories was even tougher.
At the Deira city centre Laly, Sheela and a third surprise visitor stood waiting for me at the entrance. Annie, whom I haven’t seen since my school days. It was such a pleasant surprise and to also meet up with her husband and children later. It is the third time that Laly is treating me. I haven’t had the opportunity to repay her kindness and I am not sure when I will get another chance. Also for someone who doesn’t even live in Dubai to make the effort to come and see me and to make this mini get together possible, I am ever so grateful. We sat and caught up with all the family news. Later as I walked around the centre with my friends I bumped into Viney and her friend but the rest of the group who were doing their last minute shopping were nowhere to be seen.
Soon it was time to say goodbyes again. This time we did it over a cup of delicious Indian chai at a nearby cafe, another treat for me from Sheela’s lovely family.
As I sit in the hotel restaurant (alone😟) this morning scribbling my notes before I make my way to the airport, I wish to thank all my friends who have made this one of the most memorable weeks of my life. The friends who have showered me with gifts and treats, the friends who have worked tirelessly to make this happen, the friends who kept me company, to my old group of friends, to my new extended close group of friends, to the wider circle of friends and their families and last but not least my precious school friends.
During this trip I got to know quite a lot of my classmates whom I never got a chance to know well during my college days. It was particularly nice meeting up with the spouses, children and grandchildren. To mention a few: Rajani’s son, Aadi, Niza’s children and Shanu mol, Indira’s family, Hari’s daughter, and then there was Alex’s grandson with his cheeky smile which revealed his dimples. Going through the umpteen photos that have been pouring in, I can’t but look through them without reminiscing about the particular events. ASP and his camel trip, the only time I saw him drop his guard and give up his serious face. Rafia’s witty retorts. Lola’s playful attitude and cheeky remarks. Babu annan’s philosophical and easy-going outlook on life. Suchi and her husband’s dedication to each other. Little Shanu deciding on how to address the adults and then making sure in between that we haven’t forgotten her. Baiju walking around looking for trouble (I’m only joking Baiju). Roshan’s wide happy grin which slowly evaporates as evening arrives and exhaustion kicks in, but it’s all back to normal again after a good sleep. Sreekumari refusing to give up her five a day portion of fruits even for a day and wondering whether a big mango was a better purchase than buying something to take home during our shopping trips. Beena getting upset with us at the Global Village thinking we had forgotten her, when we thought Babu annan was all that she needed. Apparently that need was only at the Miracle gardens when they wanted to do their romantic strolls without us tagging along. How were we to know??
Yes it has been a memorable trip indeed and the happy memories will stay with us for a very long time.