It has been six months since I have relocated to India, after all the rigmarole of settling down, it’s now sinking in that I’m not on vacation and there’s no more going back “home” to UAE again.
I still haven’t gotten over the ecstasy that I would feel on Thursday evenings just to realise after a second that the weekend is no more ‘Friday-Saturday’ but ‘Saturday-Sunday’. The driver’s seat has changed but when I am unmindful, on a reflex I walk towards the left side of the car just to be nudged out of my absent-mindedness to real-time.
Then begins the roller-coaster rides on roads. I always have been of the view that behaviour on roads is a reflection of the inherent character of people. My foray into roundabouts almost bring on tears of despair and I so wish that my driving instructor, Rahma, in Dubai, could come to my rescue and educate me further, to practise defensive driving and much else.
The pictures of- the winter sunset from the highlands of Fujairah, the sparkling sand of the desert at sun rise, the barbecue picnics that regaled us as the weather cooled down, peek at me from my picture folder, which is more like a treasure trove of memories, now. The recollection of the innumerable walks down the Mamzar beach side, the “Kadak” tea that we’d enjoy thereafter, the chill in the air as we’d near the end of a year, would fill the soul with an inexplicable feeling of warmth and now tug at my heart strings.
Recently when the Indian festival of Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated, it dawned upon me that the ingredients that I needed for the worship and festivities were more easily available in Dubai, just a stone’s throw away. The delivery boys in the grocery shop, housed in the building I lived in for years, had created a special bonding, one that cannot be described.
There was a sense of filial camaraderie and trust, customers were not ‘kings’ for them but family. The lady who helped me do my chores at home texts me from time to time, she conveys to me the messages of the folks of the grocery shop and others.
I had looked forward to Expo 2020 Dubai that was to be held last year, but the pandemic played spoilsport. Now as I go through the pictures of the various pavilions-so skilfully created, the Red Arrows aerobatic show, the stunning Navratri performances by the Indian expats at the Indian pavilion, the Expo fountain called ‘Surreal’, I miss UAE even more. One of the grooviest exhibits that I read about and would have loved to check out would be the magical lunar touchstone, in the USA pavilion.
A triangular fragment of the moon, that was brought back to Earth in the last Apollo mission of 1972, would be enough to attract all selenophiles to the expo. Another pavilion that I would have loved to visit is the Danish one that showcases ‘hygge’, the Danish way of living. To hold an exhibit of this proportion and grandeur is indeed a huge a feat. The dwindling number of Coronavirus cases reflects upon the aplomb with which the pandemic was dealt with!
I conclude from my visit to different places that the nature of the people that inhabit a place and the vision of the rulers are massively instrumental in moulding the basic fabric of a country and so it is with UAE.
Any kind of transition or departure is difficult. I recently read in an article, “One of the most underrated life decisions-one that we are least trained and supported to do is- ‘leaving’ … jobs, friendships, relationships, homes, cities … dreams that need to be abandoned. Leaving is living. It’s a choice. Even if it hurts…”.
Hence, I shall move on, gradually, but memories of the UAE, will always remain a part of my soul.
Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Gurgaon. Twitter: @VpNavanita