Here's the good\bad news..... I am off again. Dubai beckons. Yup, after you read my column later, you'll figure. But I am keen to go back and swoon over the musical fountains at the foot of the Burg Khalifa and eat a scrumptious Thai meal at 'Mango'. However, it is hard to disconnect from my current Paris mode ( Paris is such an addictive city!), but I must, if I am to enjoy Dubai fully , and on its own terms.
Before that, a date with the lovely Aishwarya Rai Bachchan awaits. Each time I saw her on billboards in Paris ( Longines ), especially a huge one at Gare de Lyon, my heart filled with pride. She is exceptional. And exceptionally special. As one of her directors accurately stated, "Aishwarya is bigger than any of her movies." That's stardom. Mega stardom.
A sweet and simple phone call from a lady called Shobha Rao, brought a big smile to my face. She has been a 'phone friend' for years. This time, she was on the line just to say she'd completed a 3- day course in self awareness and acknowledged my contribution to her life!!!! Frankly, I was taken off guard and a little embarrassed. She added, "You have influenced so many lives without even knowing it." Now.... it was my turn to blush!!! As I am doing right now!!
More from or after Dubai.... au revoir.
This appeared in Bombay Times yesterday...
The malls are alive…. with the sound of silence. I am talking about the township- sized malls of Dubai. In particular, the super fabulous Dubai Mall, which needs a mini train to get around its vast ( but empty spaces). Even the fish in that monumental aquarium look weary and bored, posing for stray tourists who walk in to gawk.I can safely bet on this – Mumbaikars are splurging more than all those label addicts in Shopoholics Anonymous, also known as Dubai. In fact, no visitor to Mumbai would believe India is still pulling out of the global meltdown and coming to terms with a fresh economic order. Pranabda’s budget may have brought a little cheer, plus spared us the much feared (and definitely anticipated) pain. But going by Mumbai’s mad buying spree and the non-stop partying mode everybody seems to be in, the funniest topic by far to raise with anybody, is about the recession and ummmm …. aaah…. the economic meltdown. Most Mumbaikars look bewildered when people ask them about belt tightening exercises and other equally boring subjects. Event organizers eagerly tell you about their fresh multiple, multi crore bookings running into the end of the year and beyond. New restaurants are opening practically every second week, and as for the fashion frat – come on, when did they ever complain about a slowdown?
The glam of the IPL continues to draw mobs and throngs. One would have imagined the big romance with cricket in this avatar was waning in the third season. Absolutely not! From fashion week to IPL parties in one smooth move, is the way to go in Mad Bad Mumbai. Bollywood is in euphoric spirits as well, with the success of ‘3 Idiots’ and a couple of other genuine hits. Anil Ambani’s ambitious plans have also sent out an aggressive message to moviewallas on both sides of the Atlantic - all those hungry people looking for mega deals. Who does that leave out? Travel agents report healthy bookings this summer… and beyond. Real estate is set to boom once more, and it’s great to monitor prices that are crawling up after hitting rock bottom. Nobody but nobody is looking back at last year or moaning and groaning about spiraling prices. Does that also hold for the rest of India?
I must confess to feelings of smugness as I drove around Dubai, checking out familiar malls and meeting old friends. Doom and gloom. That’s the current story there. But all is not lost. The spectacular World Cup ( racing’s biggest event) is round the corner. And Sheikh Mohammed has sent out lavish invitations to 500 celebrities across the globe. Dubai is bound to put up a magnificent show that is designed to send out a strong message to investors that ‘aal eeez well’ in the desert kingdom. And may it truly be so. We need a strong, moderate , reasonably independent and cosmopolitan emirate in the region. And Dubai has been just that for decades . The stronger our ties, the better for both nations. But at least as of now, India doesn’t have to feel like a desperately poor country cousin. I for one, can’t wait for Dubai to get its glitter and groove back.