camels

DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2

Posted on Updated on

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.

Did the car behind ya get stuck?
Did the car behind ya get stuck?
Steep fall
Tracks ahoy !
Tracks ahoy !

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!

Groupfie time! Random tourists
Groupfie time! Random tourists

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 .

Footprints in the sands of time...
Footprints in the sands of time…

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.

Camelus Dromedarius - yep its a camel!
Camelus Dromedarius – yep its a camel!

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.

Henna time
Henna time
Dinner is served!
Dinner is served!
This guy did quite a number...
This guy did quite a number…
And so did she !
And so did she !
The sun sets over the desert ... time to wrap up!
The sun sets over the desert … time to wrap up!

. 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…

The Great Bombay Circus

Posted on Updated on

There were many things that went through my mind when I went to The Great Bombay Circus a week ago. Not something that could be classified under nostalgia but nevertheless a kind of almost childish expectation. Would it be the same things that I saw as a child? All that stayed in my memory as a child was the distinct smell of the animals and the colourful tents. As the series of activities unfolded here, it was a feeling of deja vu – the clowns, the elephants and camels, the dog show, pretty girls doing dangerous stunts, the cycle show and the motorcycle riders.

What lies behind those painted smiles?
The super batsman
The world spins in his hands
Gingerly balancing on a moving base
Basket ball - but of a different kind!
A really fast pyramid formation!
Russian fire dance
Russian fire eater
More stunts with fire
Crossing a fiery hurdle
Stunts on a cycle - This man is of cine fame. Movie - 7am Arivu
Jumping through hoops
Fashion Diva
Juggling act
Our version of Quick gun Murugan!
Smart birds !
Enter the camels!
There were 2 bikers inside this globe !

But unlike the last time – my current visit to the circus left me thinking. For this time I did not see the happily painted faces of the clowns. I was wondering about what lies behind those smiles. I saw not just the sporty elephant or the graceful camel – but saw instead their lack of strength and their worn out visages.

I was not excited about the acrobatics of the young boy who jumped through the hoop, but felt bad that he was on display. Same goes for the dog strutting around with the umbrella.

The bikers in the globe caught not my fancy, but their earnest prayers did. They start each show not knowing if this would be their last.

The stunt master on the cycle and the quick gun Murugan were people who obviously possessed great calibre, but all I saw were middle-aged men trying to earn their daily bread. Call me a cynic if you will, but what struck me was the apathy of the audience through every act. There were no gasps of excitement, no immediate applause and no faces bathed in admiration that one would expect. People continued to mollycoddle their children, focus on taking pictures of themselves, and buying more and more snacks to keep them going through the show.

At the end of the day – these are artistes who possess some kind of great physical and mental skills that we ” normal” people do not. Why not give them the attention and recognition they deserve? What stops us from clapping our hands wholeheartedly and calling for an encore? Why are there cat-calls but no appreciative whistles?

Variete artistes around the world are an appreciated lot. Our artistes are nothing short of that. But we the audience behave like the crowd watching gladiators battle it out for their life in the roman arena. Serious business for them. But Entertainment for us.

I ask of nothing more but that this indifference would cease to exist. And that brings me to the end of my thoughts on “The Great Bombay Circus”

The End !