The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dubai is heaven

Honestly, after 4 days in Delhi, I'm pretty sure anywhere would be heaven right now, but Dubai has been good to us so far. We only arrived last night but were quick to notice the stark contrast. I am going to be honest and say that right now, money is surely buying my happiness.

The beef. In India, cows are sacred and roam the streets freely; my first call in Dubai was a midnight call to room service to order a big juicy burger. Mutton was not cutting it for me.

The honking. There are no words to describe the concept of honking in India. It is not viewed as an aggressive rude thing to do. It is just very normal to lay on the horn. Drivers honk to let people know they are behind them, beside them or passing them. They honk to let others know they can pass or cannot pass or they should walk or should not walk. They honk to say hello or goodbye. They honk at bikers, motorcylists, auto-rickshaws, walkers, other cars, camels. They do not honk at cows.

The streets. From what I could learn, Delhi has a population of like 16 million and I think 15 million of them have a means of transportation they use the streets for. Cars, taxis, vans and bikes share the road with cows, camels, goats, pigs and people. There is no method, you just squeeze by. (Note: that doesn't always work, as our car was hit once by someone who didn't notice they just couldn't fit.)

The bacteriad water. For 12 days, I have been brushing my teeth with bottled water and have not had fruit or vegetables or salad. Since arriving in Dubai at midnight last night, we have feasted on lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, grapes, and most importantly, Diet Coke with ICE.

The shower. Oh how nice it is to take a shower and feel clean. The water in Delhi (and especially in Chiang Mai) smelled so putrid that I felt grosser after bathing. It took us a few days to realize that the overpowering stench from the bathroom was actually the water.

The shopping. We have only ventured two blocks from the hotel so far because we have night safari plans. But we have already spent over an hour in a grocery store and a pharmacy. Just looking around. Clean. Air conditioned. Clean. Products I have heard of. Clean. Produce!

The lack of haggling. The lack of price tags and "bargaining" for everything you purchase was neat at first, but got really old after almost two weeks. It is refreshing to walk into a store and look at an item knowing that I will not have to argue my way out of buying things. And, they have price tags. You find an item, you look at the price, you decide to buy it, you pay that price. What a great concept.

The people and personal space invasions. No one here touches us. No children knocking on our window for money. No salespeople following us for blocks with their products. No taxi drivers doubling the price halfway to our destination. No taxi drivers dropping us off in random places we do not want to go. No one giving me 500 change out of 1000 when the water was 10. No jerks at the airport that charge foreigners (and women) more for the exact same items than they do local men.

The safety. I feel safe to walk around alone here. I didn't even feel safe walking around with two friends in Delhi.

The airports. Honestly, I'm not sure there are words to describe the difference between Indira Ghandi and Dubai International airports.

Really, I think, Dubai may actually be heaven.

Addendum: my traveling companion noted that the post did not seem to convey that we did actually have fun in Delhi. We did. I will surely recap and go into more detail about the highlights of Thailand and India at another time. For now, going shopping!