It takes some time to get used to Dubai. It's been ten days since my return from India, and those days have passed by in a flash. I literally feel like I stepped off the plane yesterday.
Not that this sudden acceleration has in any way been caused by an overabundance of things to do — quite the opposite, in fact. I was in India for less than a month and I can tell you pretty much what I got up to on a day to day basis. Hell, I can probably give you a fairly accurate description of my daily itinerary from last year's trip to India.
I couldn't for the life of me tell you what I ate for dinner the day before yesterday, however. That's the thing about Dubai: for all the fast paced, jet-set lifestyle you see on the surface, the day to day of it is frustratingly uneventful. It's like sitting on a couch watching TV: what's happening on screen may be the most exciting thing in the world, but what you're doing is just sitting there, half asleep.
Time just slips away. The very fact that I've had ten whole days of uninterrupted broadband access and haven't even checked my email is horrible — worse, because I haven't even noticed.
Much of 2006 was like this, of course (I think I may have written around three emails, total) and I've been wrestling with myself to get off my ass and not do a repeat of that whole fiasco.
I felt more alive in India. The trip was hectic and much more 'event-oriented' than I would like. It always felt like I was either coming from, going to, or recoving between some kind of social engagement, but the few moments of just plain doing what I like were bliss.
Eating burning-hot vada pav by the side of the road and not caring that I had flecks of sticky chutney all over my trouser leg (which is far less erotic than it sounds). Slurping the inch-high foam off a cup of filter coffee in a restaurant the size of a small American car. Walking into Landmark bookstore in Andheri for the first time and coming face to face with five solid shelves of graphic novels and manga — the most actual, physical comic books I've seen in any bookstore. Turning a corner and encountering a wedding reception the size of half a football field. Staring a whole Mughlai Paratha with a side of potatoes in the face and actually consuming it, then realising that doing so more than once a year will kill me.
Walking and wading in the endless, innumerable and empty beaches around Shrivardhan. Discovering that the outstanding memory of me in a person I haven't met in ten years is of me cutting loose on a dance floor at some party I vaguely half-remember.
Fending off hordes of red-ribbon-pigtail schoolgirls to climb the bus. Dadar Station road — At any time. First Class Train Compartments, which are like regular train compartments, only without the full body massage and one inch cubed of personal space.
Realising that perfectly ordinary people with perfectly ordinary jobs in a city with perfectly adequate (but crowded) public transport and completely inadequate parking are now buying cars, and therefore going from Bandra to Santacruz by the four-lane highway (which in India, of course, is a seven-and-a-half lane highway) doesn't take ten minutes like it did a year ago, but one and a half hours.
Seeing more prime time TV ads for mutual funds and insurance/investment schemes than shampoos and colas combined, and realising that India is both a lot different and also absolutely the same as when I was a kid. Freaking out the branch manager of a prominet bank by just standing around and not looking like the world was going to end.
During the entire vacation either Samir or I could be heard saying, "When do go on vacation?" It was pretty annoying now and then, but despite it all we did manage a few moments of total fun. It's hard to explain to people that you go on vacation not to either:
a) Meet everyone you're remotely half-related to and stay for rice and curry.
b) Hole up in your place of choice, enter a semi-comatose state and eat rice and curry.
c) Eat rice and curry.
I have nothing against rice and curry. I do have a lot of ill will towards chilli-water disguised as curry that most people seem to think is some kind of measure of your Indian heritage. You aren't a pukka desi is you don't like at least six chillis in your dal*.
* And believe me, dal is by far the mildest of Indian dishes. I think I've elaborated on my general dislike of the term 'curry' and what it has come to represent before, so the short version below will suffice for now.
Try telling these people that chillies were only introduced into India five hundred years ago, that Rama, Krishna, Buddha, the entire Maurya dynasty and most of the Mughals never, ever ate one and would probably look at you funny if you told them it was synonymous with India, and they'll give you the same expression of being genuinely affronted that most Indians get when any of their sacred cows are even slightly questioned.
It's a look I've come to know well.
Also telling people that this whole concept of eating a heavy breakfast of cooked food first thing in the morning is very unhealthy and that you'd prefer a glass of hot water and later some fruits provokes a similar reaction and cries of "That's not our culture!"**
** Actually, it is.
I go to India to be alive. It's easy, because you're thrust into life headfirst and see all of it, even moreso in Mumbai. I guess I'm trying to find life in Dubai, certainly of a verisimilitude that can be found over there. If not I guess I'll have to invent it.
Which brings me back to this site, and you. I've tried the whole designer thing for a while, and it's been nice — I worked on a couple of things last year that were fun and fruitful and I should post about them soon — but I've generally been frustrated and depressed and comatose. Not a great start for someone who wants to rule the known universe and outlying territories.
A couple of years ago I said I'd be better off a couple of years later, and since that hasn't happened — twice — I seriously need something that takes up a large amount of my time that the jet set lifestyle and bevy of beautiful, vapid girlfriends isn't taking up at the moment.
Forget 'back in the saddle' — I need to find me a horse!
Getting the domain was one step (it's allVishal.com for those who didn't read the previous post) and new content should be coming to the site. It's mostly silly stuff, but I hope that it's entertaining and you come back for more. I haven't drawn in ages, but there are fresh sheets of paper waiting right next to me so I should get back to that.
There may be a redesign at some point, but when is anyone's guess. If the content outgrows this current one, then yes (and I hope it does reasonably soon).
Until then, thank you for being here. Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Everything Else.
I'll talk to you soon.