Dubai mesmerized me. Wherever I ran my gaze, sky scrapers stood in clusters, competing with one another in nudging and scraping the sky. They stood in all shapes and sizes, as if trying to strike different poses of a gymnast. Rough and tough, stiff and solid concrete used in them looked like the most flexible material. There was this unique 1000 feet high Cayan tower that twisted at right angle and housed 73 floors of residential apartments. There were Emirates twin towers, Deira twin towers, Al Kazim twin towers, Park twin towers and many more such structures. And there stood the giant Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on the earth, 828 metres high and dwarfing all other masterpieces to miniatures.
Continuous clicking of my camera didn’t help me in capturing Dubai into my fist. In these five days, I didn’t want to sleep but encapsulate every part of Dubai into my heart. Every building was a masterwork, had its unique saga of coming up but had lost its glory and identity soon on coming up of another bigger and taller one. Inimitable Burj-Al-Arab, one of the two seven star hotels in the world, stood in the sea, away from the clusters of high rise ones and boasted of a beautiful helipad and a restaurant at its 1000 feet high top.
The roads were scrupulously clean. No garbage could be found anywhere. Dubai’s most busy, Sheikh Zayed road that ran parallel to the coast line and formed the main traffic artery of Dubai, presented a sea of cars of all lengths. It faced traffic congestion despite its 12 lanes yet there were no horns, no shouts and no curses under the breath. No posters could be seen on the buildings and no walls could be found painted with any slogans. Waste-bins, road maps encased in glass enclosures and air conditioned bus shelters stood in plenty on the roadsides. Everything was meticulously planned. Oil had metamorphosed into money, hiring the best talent of the world to produce the best, the biggest and the highest!
A comparison of India with Dubai filled me with gloom. Such development could take many decades to come up here. It looked impossible. It could be done only by scrapping all the existing clusters of buildings, mushrooming colonies, roadside shops and planning the cities afresh over the vast stretches of vacated land. But that could never be possible. Would it remain a dream only, I pondered over the issue.
To divert my thoughts, I struck a conversation with my car driver. ‘My name is Dinesh,’ he said. ‘An Indian?’ ‘Yes. You’ll find many Indians and Pakistanis here,’ he told. He was there for 25 years. ‘Have you settled here?’ I asked. ‘No! My family is in India. So is my apartment. America will issue a green card to you, grant citizenship, but here, they don’t accept you. No green card, no citizenship even after 25 years. India beckons me’. He had a faraway look in his eyes. ‘At the end of the day, in the evening of my life, I’ll return to India, my country and live there with my family and my freedom. India is human, Sir’.
On the day of my return, at the airport, there was a huge rush at immigration counter. Such rush I had witnessed in the cinema halls in the seventies. But there was a separate gate for the Arabians. ‘Why this partiality?’ There was no one to answer the question that rose in my mind.
As the plane touched the runway at Delhi and I switched on my mobile, I felt a strange happiness in me on being back to India. Passing smoothly through the immigration check & the green channel, I thought, ‘India’s population was 500 times that of Dubai. Yet India was somehow feeding its population. That was human indeed. Development will come of course but humanity was more important. And above all, Apna India apna hai!’