Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Walk in the Desert

It was a statement made with no evil intentions, hard feelings or any anger it was merely stated as an honest observation. But it was so close to the truth. For one odd instance I agreed with Faizal, without a doubt.

Dubai is a sprawling monster of a city, a Godzilla in itself in terms of business world today. But all it takes is stepping out of the gates of the tallest buildings, largest malls, most expensive hotels, biggest commercial complexes, the gold souks and all those manmade structures, just step out and the hot and dry desert winds tell the story. They whisper of the beginnings as they must have been when the air conditioning was still to bring the comforts. As these winds change their free flowing ways to adjust for these odd structures in their way, the kind of structures that don’t bend when they pass nor dance in joy or share the sorrow in news of the world the winds carry.

We had checked out from our hotel. Plan was to eat at Options and from there straight to airport. Options, by Sanjeev Kumar. One good Indian meal before entering the land of Azeris. It was a hundred meters walk and off we went with our luggage dragging along. We were passing the convention center and discussing the crowds of few days ago for fooDubai convention. It was like all the businessmen from around the world have suddenly woken up and found them in Dubai and there they were selling their products to one and all. Actually selling the idea of the products, actual products were to follow after the deals were penned, filed, catalogued and locked.

One of the very many things that you observe when you are in Dubai is how many youngsters here live the life of riches. With the gold hanging around and out from various possible parts of the body, the bellies already showing signs of maturing wisdom of being very well fed, the hubble bubble of all the latest electronic gadgets, the most expensive ones, falling out of various pockets and the unending (or so I think) flow of currency from the bottomless pockets, these youngsters already give a look of their grown up selves. A look which radiates with the beams which says “we are the kings”. Sons of Emirs. Kings of Emirates. Imposingly United Emirates.

So here we were, me and Faizal, Faizal and I, whichever works better, crossing from Novotel to Options and in front of convention center, when Faizal asks me if I ever played sin city. “No”. So he explained a little about the game and it sounded like Age of Empires, you make your towns and kingdoms and all that. I was wondering why he suddenly got interested in sin city and building of cities and kingdoms. He continued, “Generally at the start of the game you get some resources allocated and then you work out strategies and make money and increase infrastructure, you plan how much to spend where and all. Like what would be in real life if you are building a city from zero. But there was this trick which one of my friends told me. It was some sort of code. They called it the cheat money. So you just entered this code (somewhere) and you got like a billion dollars or resources. Now you forget about planning your economy. No need to work to make money and grow. No strategies. Just build whatever you like and make your city as big and strong and all.” It was very hot, the hundred or so meter walk could tell a person the truth of weather in Dubai. It’s all air conditioned insides but it only adds to the harshness of the nature outside. Faizal concluded, “It is the same with Dubai. They have this trick money, the oil money”.

Though not very true for Dubai in the current context, but the emir’s coffers must have plenty of oil money stashed under money coming from the other trades now.

And I just nodded in agreement, less with the content, more with the context of the statement.

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