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A Delhi girl finds a better life in the middle-eastern metropolis.
[Text by Manika Dhama; she writes in Myriad Musings and More; picture of the author by Mayank Austen Soofi]
I always knew that Delhi and I were going to have a long-distance relationship some day. It didn’t matter that I’d lived, studied and worked there for almost 12 years. That was the longest I’d stayed in any city. But I left the city last year in September. No, it wasn’t about Delhi and me. We were getting along just fine. It was just time to move on and I was more than ready to.
When I finally settled down in the (desert) sun of Dubai, I wasn’t looking for ways to compare the two cities, but they just presented themselves.
Lucky Women of Dubai
As a woman, the obvious difference (and perhaps the most significant one) is how “free” one feels in Dubai. Late night bus rides, 3 am walks through the streets, watching the sunrise/waves at the beach (with as less as one and not more than four male-friends for company at any given time) gives one enough reason to bemoan the state of affairs in Delhi.
Of course that is not to say one is always safe in Dubai (can one ever be in any city in the world?) but atleast by doing the above, one is not taking actions bordering on the abnormal, something one would be doing in Delhi. The sad truth is I am not exaggerating!
There also happen to be only-for-women taxis in Dubai. You’re alone and need to get to the airport or to a party, just call one of these pink-topped, women-driven taxis. No need to rely on male friends to ‘escort’ you.
Of course one would be naïve to assume that men in Dubai are very different from those in other parts of the world. So, yes, you might get eve-teased (in languages that may range from Arabic to Lebanese to Malayali), but these instances are so few and far between that you wouldn’t be too worried to walk with a female friend to a supermarket in the vicinity at 11 pm.
Just for your information, if you ever wanted to plant a kiss on your significant other in this city, you could do ahead and do so without the police arresting you for obscenity. But be warned that you’re not allowed to kiss (or eat and drink) outdoors during ramzaan till the evening prayers at around 6 pm. If abstinence is your thing, this is the real deal.
Good Cops, Bad Cops
There is one thing people will always tell you about Dubai: stay on the right side of the law. The police here are not the Taliban (unlike what some people may have you believe) but it wouldn’t hurt to follow the rules. If you’re flying in from Delhi and sees police as bribe-happy people, as most Delhi wallas experience everyday, be warned: it might not be a very good idea to try it on the guys here.
Traffic Jams, But Bigger Cars
People say traffic jams here can kill you. I’m still alive because I haven’t found myself in a bad one yet. When one is not dying in jams, there’s ample opportunity to drool over the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Hummers of the world.
People here love their cars, have too many of them and drive them real fast. If drift racing gets you going, driving on some roads in Dubai would come fairly close. But there is method to the madness. Traffic rules are serious business and passing a driving test is a feat no less than making it to the Ivy League colleges.
No Cow, But Beef
Animal lovers might find this city fairly disappointing. Months go by without one having seen so much as a cat. Camels may be spotted at construction sites and dogs (if you’re lucky enough to spot one) will have an owner walking on the side. The only cows you’ll come close enough to are the ones in other people’s burgers. There are no street dogs to pat and cows to avoid while driving as in dear Delhi.
The Dubai landscape is dotted with skyscrapers that often leave you awestruck. But there is no Humayun’s tomb or Jama Masjid to stir your soul. Of course let truth be known that I visited these places for the first time on a recent visit to Delhi, after having moved to Dubai. Perhaps that is why I could appreciate it more. Not as a tourist in my own city but as someone who had missed out on so much while living there.
When I left Delhi I didn’t think of whether I would or wouldn’t come back after the two years (or more) that I would spend in Dubai. A friend seemed to know for sure that I was never coming back.
I don’t know yet if he’s going to be right. I don’t know if that’s important.
Life can take me anywhere. But Delhi and I have a history. And I’m still in love.