Monday, November 5, 2012

Dubai - More impression and the Abu Dhabi F1 Race

We do have some rules, you cannot live without rules. One rule, as you may have read, is to travel on a Metro, Train, Tube, Underground, Sky train in every city you visit. The other rule is to go to the local markets in every city. By this I mean both the actual local market and the big Supermarkets. This is something that keeps us engrossed. So, in Dubai we ended up at two. One is the obligatory Gold Souk; well it is a local market. I mean this is Dubai, they deal in Gold. The other was a huge Carrefour.

I was amazed at the variety of fresh produce available at the Carrefour. You keep hearing, though I confess I have not heard this for some time, that all India’s best produce is exported. I am here to tell you that this is absolutely true. In the Carrefour, which in all fairness is a mid priced supermarket, there were so many varieties of a single item available that I was surprised. You had at least 5-10 types of Onion. Spanish white onions, Shallots, Spring Onions, Indian Red Onions, exotics like Vidalia and so many more. The red onions came from India. Really good quality. The Safed Mooli [Daikon Radish] also from India was the largest I have ever seen. A single piece would feed a family of 4 for 2-3 meals. It was huge. Also available was the humble Karela [Bitter Gourd] from India. Once again huge. Yes, I know the traditionalists among my readers will say all these big vegetables are tasteless; it’s the small ones that are really tasty. They will say it’s genetically modified, they will say it’s full of pesticide and fertilizer. Bollocks!! You simply don’t get the big stuff in India and secondly, it will be either too expensive or too big to make for a single meal. I say, let us see some of this really good stuff in our markets. The shop was an eye opener for me in as much as what really good vegetables India produces. Sad we don’t get them at home.

One reasonably funny story. While at Carrefour we were looking for dried limes. These are used extensively in Iranian cooking. A lime is totally dried in the sun and ends up looking like a black table tennis ball and weighs approximately the same. We bought a few. Then we saw a bag containing lemon powder. This turned out to be the same lime, powdered. The salesman a jolly Pakistani saw our enthusiasm and told us there was yet another product we should try, Lemon Salt, and gave us a quarter teaspoon each. In our customary enthusiasm we flung the `lemon salt’ into our mouth and almost died. It was pure Citric Acid, yeeeeach. Lesson learnt.

The people here in Dubai are just so friendly. A question to a taxi driver will reveal his entire life story. Taxi drivers we encountered were only from the sub-continent. A Pakistani who loved remixed Hindi film songs and another who we caught late one night, listening to the utterly mournful Jagjit Singh. One Pakistani was from the Afghanistan border area complaining how things were so bad at home that even shopping for vegetables could kill you if a bomb went off. One was Nepali and another a Keralite who drove coconut delivery trucks from Kerala to Vashi before coming to the `Gelf’. Each and every one a friendly soul. Shopkeepers, shop assistants, waiters and barmen all unfailingly polite and, most importantly, friendly. Last night our waitress was from Burma. A restaurant manager came up to us and spoke of his time at Holiday Inn in Juhu, Bombay. It’s just such a pleasure to speak with a fellow Asians here. Each and every one of them works very hard, each and every one of them has their family back home. I wonder why most Indians are crotchety, thieving bastards back home. Too much Maunmohan Singh and wholly incorrect role models, is what I think. No one who can instill values, discipline and fear.

The roads in Dubai are truly amazing. Broad, smooth and with fantastic signage. They seem to follow the American system on their highways. Makes sense, they drive on the right side of the road in left hand drive cars. The whole system is one of exits and the consequent over bridges. Awe inspiring. We have used the roads a lot. We travel well in excess of 100 kms everyday and feel absolutely no fatigue and have never encountered a Mumbai style traffic jam.

The F1 race was in Abu Dhabi some 120 kms away. We did that distance in just about an hour. And, what a circuit! Simply the best we have been to as far as a spectator is concerned. You access the parking lot which is barely 500 meters away from the highway. You get into a air-conditioned bus and go to your stand which is about 3-5 kms away. The stands themselves are really good. Super clean toilets, adequate food, great entertainment and totally festival atmosphere. Only down side was that the main grandstand, which is where we were sitting was bathed in sun till about 4 pm. This was tough going but we got our dose of Vitamin D as well as a healthy tan. I request that you have a look at the food offered in Noida and the food offered at Abu Dhabi. I draw no conclusions, please do so yourself. The race itself was fantastic, full of tragedy [Vettel’s disqualification after the Qualifying], triumph [Kimi the stoic’s victory], triumph over all odds [Vettels 3rd place], grit [Alonso’s determined drive to 2nd place], accidents [Nico & Narain], mixed emotions [Hamilton’s failure]. Great great fun and seeing the passion among the fans was lovely. One observation, the Russians have taken over the Gulf – both men and women. Soon street signs will be in Russian. I would say that 75% of Caucasians in Dubai are Russian. They are anyway all over London and now all over the Gulf. Good on them.

Fanvision. Indeispensible when watching a race. 

Beautiful sunset 

A blur. Its impossible to photograph an F1 car when its passing you. Only when approaching even then its a blur. 

Flattened by the heat

Last time for Michael at Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi food

Noida food

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