From Economy to Business Class

The Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE.

“Then one day when you least expect it, the great adventure finds you.” This quote reminds me of the day when I received an email from a University in Australia (least expected or interested) offering me a full scholarship and a stipend for research degree called “Ph.D.” I was confused or perhaps scared what and how I will manage it. I was trying to digest this news amidst life brought another surprise (a happy one though) in the form of “Life Partner”. Things were happening so fast that I had no time to think rather overthink about them.  Then finally, the day had come when my journey to a much-talked city “Melbourne” began.

After saying goodbye to family, in fact, two families now and gone through the immigration queues, I finally boarded in the plane. The moment I stepped into Business Class cabin (first time) all the sadness of leaving family behind (particularly my partner), stress and anxiety just disappeared. After slurping the special breakfast, I spent the entire time sleeping on a comfy bed till arrived in a famous city of UAE; Dubai.

I chose a long stopover in Dubai and stayed in a hotel provided by the airline. After some rest, I started to shortlisting a few places that I could visit during my stay. Started my travel from GGIICO train station. Dubai metro trains have designated cabins for male and females’ passenger but the division of the cabins is equal for both, unlike Pakistani Metro. From GGICO, I arrived at the famous Dubai Mall. I find it similar to a newly developed Mall in Lahore but of course, Dubai Mall is super advanced in terms of area, technology and with thousands of international and Arabic brands. I, being a tharki woman went to a few shops and almost everything was beyond my buying capacity. So, decided to grab a cheap coffee from Tim Hortons, a small doughnut and ran towards Burj Khalifa where the water and light show was about to begin.

As I moved towards the Burj Khalifa, where every night a light and water show occur after every 30 minutes. Lots of people were gathered around it, trying to find a space near the fountain and anxiously waiting for the next show. Each show last for 15 minutes and then people wait for another 30 minutes to see the next version. I was trying to move further from the crowd and suddenly a voice with soft music emerged in the air. Yousef (my bro in law) who joined me at the Burj told that this sound signifies that show is starting in a minute. I could see people running towards the Burj chanting and taking photos and recording the mesmerizing view of the water show. I was so touched by the music, song; a soft and calm voice beautifully aligned with the rise and fall of water. This was a breathtaking moment and I was deeply in love with it when Yousef reminds me of the time. It was 10.30 pm and we had to rush to the creek or a beach, therefore, took a taxi to visit another place called “La Meeras”; an unnatural small beach with several eateries. The beach was quiet and calm at that time of night with some bars and restaurants open for the tourists, including some gaming and fun activities.

We waited there for Alee (Yousef’s buddy) to join us for dinner. Alee joined us after his office finished and we again took a taxi to visit “Dera”. In most taxis, I find, the drivers were Pakistanis. Alee greeted them nicely and one of them started ranting about the hardships of living in Dubai. The guy was from rural Punjab and driving a taxi from past 15 years. He works for 12 hours daily and sometimes more than 12 to arrange gifts for his family and friends back home. He mentioned that our families think that we live lavishly in Dubai and keep demanding things from us (especially mobile phones which are also available at a cheap price in Pakistan). I find it interesting that families having a migrant feel proud and make an effort to show to neighbors and extended families that our son/father/husband send us gifts from Dubai
(دبئ سے انھوں نے بھیجا ھے) ۔ 🙂

It was midnight, the roads were quiet and dark, and we arrived at Dera; a mixture of residential apartments and a food street full of Indian and Pakistani dhabbas. Mostly, the south Asians men come to this place to have low-cost and tasty ethnic food. We stopped at an Indian BBQ shop famous for its steamed BBQ chicken. We ordered our food and it was served fresh and hot within 5 minutes with Hummus and Hubbas (a kind of bread roti). The BBQ chicken was really soft, light, juicy and extremely tasty. After dinner, we were craving for tea, so Yousef and Alee took me to Filli. At first, I thought, Filli is kind of tea but Alee laughed at me and said that it is a restaurant for traditional Tea in Dubai. We had a cardamom tea with Zafaran to what we call in Pakistan (کڑک چاۓ).

During tea, I asked the young chaps about their routine and migration experience, both said that it is not easy here especially the discriminatory laws for migrants in UAE, and therefore, both were planning to move further to a western country in coming years. I could see the frustration and unhappiness within them but are still better off than their home country.

Finally, it was the time to say goodbye to the kind young chaps and continue my long journey towards the other part of the world “Australia”.

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