DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2
THE DESERT SAFARI
If you have read Part 1 of my trip at Sukanya’s Blog (https://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/guest-post-destination-dubai-by-mathangi-jeyabal/)
– let’s take off from where we stopped last. While locals at Dubai might not really be gung ho about the Desert Safari (they must have done it a zillion times) – as a tourist , it is something that you cannot miss. There are innumerable choices to book a desert safari – right from something that looks really affordable to the ones that make your eyes pop out (are they throwing in a camel for free or what?). Jokes apart – read the reviews and pick the one that suits your budget and maybe a bit more. We went with Orient Tours , and I was happy with the whole experience as you might infer on further reading of this post.
If you fix a slightly upscale option – you get picked up from your residence in the vehicle of your choice (we got a really smooth Land cruiser / you can even opt for a Hummer) and are driven to the outskirts of the city. You pretty much observe the well planned out city’s landscapes fading out as you enter desert territory – arid conditions, prickly bushes and miles and miles of nothingness. You get a pit stop – where you can stock up on some snacks / coffee etc and then you go further into the land of fantastic sand dunes.
You are really not prepared for the first experience of dune bashing as they call it – where your driver simply plunges vehicle et al right from the top of the sand dune till the bottom. Once you get used to it – you secretly start wishing the dunes get higher and higher and your drop gets steeper and steeper. Your driver will stop at half point to let some air out of the tires so as to get a better grip driving up slope. Its no fun when you are halfway up there and realize you are tumbling back down uncontrollably. Its useful to check on the cars that go ahead (there are many of them that stick to a particular route) – to have a fair idea of what’s coming next.
Your tourist and Facebook friendly driver lets you get out at the most photo friendly spots – giving you sufficient time for selfies/ groupfies and what not!
The sand surprisingly is not so hot to your bare feet and is almost silky smooth. There are many almost virgin sand dunes, where your footprints do leave the first imprints making you hope it stays there embedded in the sands of time ( wishful thinking eh ?) Kids and adults just go crazy here deciding to climb up and slide down – forget inhibitions and think childhood memories .
Post play time is a visit to the camel farm, a chance to see some exotic, fat lipped “Camelus dromedaries”, lazily chewing something and giving you the shifty eye. They are willing to be petted and photographed with and are absolutely friendly.
Your last stop is the actual camp at the desert. As the sun sets, you are under the vast skies , in small tents – you can either put your feet up and relax, or go sand dune sledding, get your hands painted with henna, hold a captive falcon, get a hookah fix,watch some sand art before dinner is served. Sadly there are not many options for the vegan or vegetarian population, but if you like your proteins (read meat) you are in for a treat. The food was good, the activities make you tired and you are ready to call it a day – when you are invited to a treat of some Arabian music, traditional dances including a voluptuous belly dance.
. As you get dropped at your residence you sleep well happy in the thought that it was a day well spent.
My next post is about the extravagant gold souks and enchanting spice markets… don’t forget to watch out for this space…
A discussion I had with a friend a month earlier was still swirling around in my memory I guess. And when things get stuck in your sub-conscious, you start getting clues from the outside world that keep drawing your attention to the same topic ( a newspaper ad, a dialogue in a movie, a quote that stands out…etc) – you know you have to address the issue. Pretty much last year this time – I had a post on similar thoughts – you can read it here :
Well, coming back to the topic.PAIN.
The discussion I had with my friend was about the fact that there were socially accepted negative situations – an accident, rape, a divorce, financial crisis, a death, loss of a job… that qualify as pain . This is when people try to understand you, sympathize with you sometimes, empathize hopefully, and maybe lend support so that you may get out of a situation.
But that set me thinking – is this pain okay because it is generally accepted? Hear about someone who lost a spouse / child ? – we nod our heads sadly, click our tongues and talk about their bad times. Hear about an accident ?- we thank the fact that it was not us in the situation and look concerned for the others. Someone undergoing a break up/ divorce? – call me anytime we say!
But does it justify the pain actually? To understand it further – I try to classify types of pain as I think there could be.
1. PHYSICAL PAIN
The accident types of pain come under this category. Broke a leg? Splinter? Heart attack? Eye pain? Also under this category – I would add heart ache. The pain you feel when you have lost a loved one. The vacuum left behind when a parent passes away. When it actually hurts. And heavily! Sometimes it can manifest itself to other parts of your body – the stomach pains, constant fever, nausea ,knee pain, migraines, stiffness etc… When pain seeks its release through some physical level – it all comes under physical pain.
That may be the most cliched picture I have ever put up, but who hasn’t endured a bit of emotional pain without your lachrymal glands setting to work? Under emotional pain, comes my next two categories :
a. Tangible pain : Pain that you can explain. In a perverse way – it is logical pain. The reasons which you understand. The cause and effect of your actions. Or others’ actions. You feel the pain but you know the origin as to why it happened. It may not be fair or just, but there is clarity. Examples are :
* A bad report card
* seeing your toddler cry for a shot
* when your pet has to be put down
* seeing your parents / grandparents become slow, dependent, or weak.
* someone getting credit for your idea
* rash driving and an injury thereby * having no kids
* a lewd comment from a deranged moron
*being passed over for promotion
* not getting a scholarship / university of your choice
* extra-marital affairs / infidelity
* a bad marriage
* children with physical and mental health issues…
The list goes on (Please feel free to add if you have more thoughts…)
Many of these situations are difficult. Life changing even. They affect our thought patterns. Make us angry. Make us depressed. Make us anxious. Sometimes, they tell us what we want to do to get out of a situation. Sometimes oddly, can even be positive. Bad marriage? – the best here would be to get a divorce and get on with your life. It might be the best thing that happened to you. Seen a loved one suffer due to illness? – we end up taking good care of our health. People who come out of these situations are stories of motivation / courage / and emotional strength.
b. Intangible pain
This is where you don’t know what happens. Why something happened? What made it happen? And where you torture yourself with a million ” What-if ..” situations. Sometimes drive yourself to madness. Or loneliness. Or Depression. Because suddenly you are sliced out from a comfortable situation to the other extreme – without being prepared for it. An example I heard earlier stays in my mind . ” It is when you put your whole being into planning the perfect surprise for your spouse, just when you learn they are cheating on you”.
Examples are :
* when your partner hides their health / career issues from you
* when your till-now-friendly-teen no longer wants to talk to you
* when you realize your “friend” was the one selling you out
* when the person with all the good health habits ends up with cancer
* the one person you want,but can never have
* when no one recognizes you
* or respects you
* when the nest you carefully built all these years, is broken (from the inside or outside)
The emotions that hit you. Shock.Anger. Betrayal. Self-sympathy. And the feeling of foolishness. Followed by loathing. Sometimes self-loathing. But most of all.. the lack of understanding.
How did I not know it was happening? When did the situation change? From when was I unnecessary in the equation? These are the intangibles. All of us have felt it at some time. Along with the tangible pain. The intangible pain, is the one we are shy to share with others. Those are our innermost wounds. They affect our self-confidence and our power to let go.
THE SOLUTION ?
People will always give you options.- Time is the best healer. Surround yourself with friends. Keep yourself occupied. Meditate. Travel. Join a class.Think positive thoughts. If you have been in this situation – you will tell me it hardly works. What can you do?
Get in touch with yourself. Sit in plain view of nature – actually see the sky stretch endlessly. Let your thoughts wander on its vastness, the brilliant blue or the villainous grey shade it chooses to show you. Trees, grass, flowers nearby. Look at them closely – look at the small insect that goes about its work, irrespective of your problems. It might bite you when you get too close. Feel the air. Look at the tiny grains of sand around you. Those are the basics.
And if at that point you forget the whirlpool of activities that usually smuggle your happiness – the quarrel with your kid / the wondering of what am I doing? / incommunicado parent or spouse / the cooking/ driving / budgeting… its worth it. You will slowly get there. The Pain will start to heal. And you would have found your own way to deal with it.
Finding your OWN way – that is what you want. Just be YOU!
The tiger in the present, seems to reflect carefully at the ‘past’ and memories that went by. What’s past is also not in color, and the scene ahead is also in Black and white. To let us know – only the present counts. Neither the past. Nor the future. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy life.
Somethings that most temples (medium-big) with a fair amount of history will definitely have :
1. A Theppakulam ( Tank) somewhere in the vicinity, sometimes with a mandapam in the middle. The deity will be taken there during celebrations of the temple.
2. Much to the excitement and awe of devotees (irrespective of age), most temples used to have Elephants to be worshipped.
Though this is not a must in recent times, temples try to make sure there is an elephant for important functions and celebrations relating to the Temple.
Wading through some clear backwaters – these two animals made beautiful subjects for a quick picture. You had to be fast for the shy animals were not interested in any kind of human contact.
I watched in surprise at what I thought was a sea shell – suddenly sprouted antennae / feet/ claws and started inching toward the small plant, and attempting to climb it, leaving its ‘footsteps’ as a trail in the grains of sand!
I watched in amazement at the focus this little animal exhibited, moving along with its limited capabilities and resources. Never once did it give up, resign itself to negative thoughts, or complain. Humans – lesson to be learn here. Worry less, work more 🙂
We usually use the word buffalo as a derogatory term. “You stupid buffalo”. “Fat Buffalo” . “Don’t behave like a Buffalo”. Most of us get irritated with the fact, that the Buffalo does not care about our pace of life.
You want to fly to your office (you are already half an hour late and the monstrous face of your boss has just replaced the happy family picture you carry in your wallet ) – and there it is! A buffalo. Right in your path. Trudging along slowly. And deciding to sit down – in the middle of the road. Slush down its back. All dried up. Slowly chewing cud. Spittle drooling over. Lazily whisking away flies that dare come near it. And it looks at you – with the one expression you do not want to see right then. Indifference.
The Buffalo does not care. You may want to drive at a 100 km/hour to reach your office and punch in your arrival on time. It does not care. You may want to drop off your sulking child at a music class. It does not care. You may be working on your project in the car, to save time before your meeting. The buffalo just does not care.Worse still, are spouse fights, angry phone discussions, customer care conversations in the car. You just want to escape. But you cannot. For in front of you is a Buffalo. That just sits. Or slowly walking ahead – blissfully unaware of the innumerable mundane thoughts that might be whizzing through your mind in just that moment!
What do you do then? Get down in your corporate suit and scream at it? I don’t think so. Leave your child in the car – and try to prod the animal to go faster with a make shift stick? Nope. Tell your wife/husband or the credit card company to shut up? Huh? Think again. You want to do a million other things besides the continuous honking and frustration that just seem to take over your mind just then.
But since you have no choice – you just slow down. You wait. You take a breather. You actually might listen to what your partner is saying to you. You actually might heave a huge sigh and think about your presentation / points to be discussed, instead of fervently tapping keys on your laptop. You might actually bond with your kid over an ice-cream promise, in an attempt to appease his late-arrival at class.
And then the Buffalo decides it has had enough sun. And moves. Maybe the impatient vibrations of the crowd around it has spurred it into action. The sun is back in our lives again. We get back to madness after a pause, not knowing that the pause has maybe reduced the intensity of the madness. But are we aware that the “lazy” Buffalo has just made us take some me-time? Has made us detach ourselves momentarily from the craziness around us for just that split second? Did we ever give it its due? Or at least some credit? As selfish homo sapiens – we do not. So the next time you are going to use the word buffalo as a condescending piece of vocabulary – stop it. This slow animal may be just the reason you did not get into road rage, typed in an embarrassing word in your presentation or impulsively used a wrong word in a dialogue.
Slow and steady, might indeed win the race
Thank you dear Buffalo, for slowing down our pace!