Landing in Dubai, as I did, right after reading Dominique Lapierre’s City Of joy, the opulence of the city hit my senses in its bizarreness. It was such a contrast to Stephen Kowalski’s Anand Nagar! Hasari Pal, the rickshaw puller or any of the other inhabitants of those slums would not have been able to conjure up such a paradise even in their wildest dreams.
Yet, a visit to their museum revealed the adverse circumstances that the original desert dwellers had to combat to become one of the richest cities today. Known for its pearls, oil, real estate, construction wonders, this city has now become one of the most visited countries of the world. Having over 70 malls, (the world’s largest one, Dubai Mall,) it is a shopper’s capital. To the aficionados of wealth, luxury and abundance, it's a total delight.
|Aabra ride (boat)|
|Model of Burj Khalifa|
|view from 124th floor of the Burj khalifa|
|birds eye view from Khalifa|
|green in the desert?!|
|sun n sand|
|royal peacocks in front of the palace.|
On another note, I am sure this land of riches has its share of Hasari Pals too. The underbelly of the city may not be the bed of flowers that line the roadsides. Nevertheless, kudos to the leaders who had the vision to develop their nation! The job opportunities this land has granted has, I am sure, definitely given a new lease of life to the families of poor laborers who sweat it out here. Their blood and toil created the fairyland that we see.
The love of life shown by the desperate people of Calcutta’s City Of Joy, also reminded me, in stark contrast to the overflowing wealth of Dubai that happiness can be found in hearts, even if they are struck with poverty, leprosy, tuberculosis or polio! Golden souks, seven star hotels, cool malls are not de rigueur.
The thought in my mind was when will our country be as neat and organized as theirs? How much longer will our poor toil without redemption?
The indomitable Indian spirit should be able to overcome adversities and surge ahead, I hope.
Or, maybe…maybe, years from now, I may revisit my thoughts of the moment and think, “How naïve I was!”
I pray not.