nature

DESTINATION DUBAI – Part 2

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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…

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Pain – Tangibles and Intangibles

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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 :

https://mathangijeypal.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/parents-siblingsfriendsspouse-strangers/

Well, coming back to the topic.PAIN.

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

body 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.

2.EMOTIONAL PAIN

emotional-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

 * bankruptcy

*  a lewd comment from a deranged moron

*being passed over for promotion

* not getting a scholarship / university of your choice

* extra-marital affairs / infidelity

* illness

* 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.

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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”.

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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.

IMG_23166406341446

 

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?

IMG_26987325128770

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.

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Finding your OWN way – that is what you want. Just be YOU!

Peace out!

 

Yelagiri Hills

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The Yelagiri hills / sometimes also known as Elagiri hills – is one of the quickest get away to a hill station if you reside in Chennai. A 3 hour drive on a National Highway and you are at your destination away from congested traffic jams, wifi, and mall experiences.

The temperature here is cool NOT very cold, making it ideal to just relax from the four summers of Chennai, especially if you are the kind of person who misses the slow pace of life, like I did. So Yelagiri it was after I decided I needed a break from everday routine, where it was ok to be slow, walk slow, eat slow and not run towards a goal/ target/ or deadline.

We made reservations at a resort just near the lake – there are many of them and at quite affordable rates. Most of them serve absolutely fresh food as per your choice, only after you confirm you are going to dine with them. There is a no plastic rule which prevails in yelagiri. Another point in its favor. Beautful skies, the sun and the trees, simple flowers and the water and wind. Sometimes the simplest things that are ever present are the best things.

The sun and its rays piercing through the green leaves - a great sight to behold!
The sun and its rays piercing through the green leaves – a great sight to behold!

 

Still blue waters, wonderfully calm sky, and a smidgen of green here and there...
Still blue waters, wonderfully calm sky, and a smidgen of green here and there…

 

En route to the lake.. short walk over the bridge...
En route to the lake.. short walk over the bridge…

People do complain about the lack of “entertainment” options at yelagiri. Well if you are looking for adventure options,or touristy fun stuff, maybe this is not the place for you. This is ideal for people who want to slow down, be aimless for a couple of days, or just follow a minimal routine with lots of  time to just lie down, sit and observe people and take refuge in minimalism..

 

Giant size custard apples...
Giant size custard apples…

This tree with its brilliant orange flowers against a royal blue background captured my heart each morning during my stay at yelagiri...

This tree with its brilliant orange flowers against a royal blue background captured my heart each morning during my stay at yelagiri…

The lake at Yelagiri, is the main place where almost all tourists head to after their morning breakfast or for their evening walk. Entry to the park surrounding the lake is an abysmal Rs 10, with an extra Rs. 10 you have to throw in for your camera. A short walk around the lake with some broad footpaths, a bridge and through the park will bring you to the boating area and “snack” counters. Most families indulge in both and many did sing the praises of the  fried fish.

Botanical gardens
Botanical gardens

Besides the lake, the only other place where you probably could spend some time is the Botanical Gardens. A walk through the garden would take you about one and a half hours. But if you did it the way we did… that is …

SONY DSC

sit in this quaint thatched roof hut for a good forty-five minutes, the walk around the park would take you much longer. Though I would have liked to see more varieties of flowers and trees – the park is well maintained and well cared for.

Branches reaching to the blue sky...
Branches reaching to the blue sky…
Brilliant colours of the bougainvillea - shot in natural light. No editing required for this one...
Brilliant colours of the bougainvillea – shot in natural light. No editing required for this one…
These small red and white flowers looked like an arrangement of little bulbs and so caught my eye!
These small red and white flowers looked like an arrangement of little bulbs and so caught my eye!
Dark violet on the inside but radiating into a pure white...
Dark violet on the inside but radiating into a pure white…
Bright and yellow...
Bright and yellow…

 

 

Dancing Fountains...
Dancing Fountains…

The park / botanical gardens ” boast” of a light show and the dancing fountains. The novelty wears of quite soon unless you are a kid within the age of 10 who would burst into peals of laughter when the fountains spray some water on you while they “dance” 🙂

Solitary rock... ideal for the book lover
Solitary rock… ideal for the book lover

But me – I would rather comfortably perch on this rock, by the lake with a book , maybe a cuppa and lose myself with the passage of time…

Fresh Dewdrops

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Fresh Dewdrops on an orange petal, with a dark green background, the shining into the centre of the flower. I couldn’t have asked for it to be more perfect!

Any one knows the name of this flower ?

Responsibilities arrive with the break of dawn…

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The Sun rising behind tall buildings – a hot summer day!
And this mother is already up for work before sunrise …Her nest safely tucked into the crevices of a telephone pole ! Responsibilities…

Telephone wires,tree branches…and Birds!

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I  am a great admirer of the early morning. I sincerely believe that the mind is so much fresher, our thoughts more alert and the day more valuable when you start it early. So it comes as no surprise, that I got lucky during my early morning walk to spot these two beauties below. Having observed them for a week, I finally tried to coincide my morning walk, to their  pause during flight,  telephone-cable – perching schedule on the same route.

This guy seemed to prefer the telephone wire to a tree branch. But hey, if you can spot a kingfisher early in the morning – who is complaining? 🙂

 

Ignoring the paparazzi!

 

This bird seemed to be comfortably perched on a dry branch devoid of leaves and melodiously calling somebody .. maybe his mate! Wonderful sounds of the morning!

 

Hey you ! Stop invading my privacy… cant a guy speak to his girl?

Bird in hand is worth… – Stop! A camera in hand and birds in a bush – would prefer that anyday!

 

Self-confidence

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 Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi wrote:

-“I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.”

Nelumbo Nucifera - The Lotus

On my part, I love the Lotus for the fact ,that it always has the ability to stand out in its sloshy situation, with its head held high, and showing off its vibrant colours. So much so, that we brave the slippery and dangerous waters in an attempt to reach the flower that captivated us from afar…

It is rather easy many a time, to let our external situation bog us down. But to rise beyond that and exhibit our intrinsic value – that is what I hope to learn from this beautiful plant.