Date: 12th November 2010
On Monday the 8th of November, 2010, I got a bunch of missed calls as I was preparing to head to office. When I finally did speak to the person, it turned out it was someone from VH1 India informing me that I had been shortlisted as finalist in their Linkin Park Ticket to Ride Contest!
But before that, she had a bunch of questions to ask: “Do you have a valid passport?,” “Can you fly at short notice?” and then asked around 9 questions about the band itself. After answering most of the questions, said she had to speak to the others and that she would call back in some time.
After the call, the only thought that came to my mind was: “HO-LY SHiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!! All the 60-plus times I took part in the contest on Vh1 India’s Facebook page paid off!” I eagerly awaited the return call and 5 minutes later, it came.
She told me I was selected as the final winner because I answered the most questions!
She told me I could take a guest too and so I chose my elder brother Nithin, who had never been to UAE. She also told me she would send me details on tickets, where we would be staying and how we would be going to the venue. First, we weren’t going to staying in Abu Dhabi, where the Yas Marina Circuit is located. Instead, we would be in Dubai.
Hey, I wasn’t going to complain. From there, on the day of the race, we would get picked and dropped via taxi. Cool, works for us!
After we hung up, I couldn’t hold my excitement and fist-pumped “Yes!”. This was the first time in life I actually won something big! Anyway, I headed to office and also prepared to get our visa arranged (we still had to do that ourselves).
For our Dubai visa, we approached DVPC by VFS Global, the exclusive service for all Emirates flights. We rushed all our documents to their office on Cunningham road on Tuesday afternoon and hoped we could get our visas by Thursday, since our flight was on Friday early morning.
Long story short, we managed to get our 96-hour/4 day visit visa (costs Rs. 3000 per person) processed by then.
On the dawn of Friday 12th, December 2010, we were in our Emirates flight from Bangalore to Dubai.
We landed in Dubai at 7am.
We descended into one of those airport buses to get to the terminal. That ride took another 5 minutes — and my god was it cold inside that bus! It was mobile freezing chamber!
We finally got into Terminal 3 and made our way to immigration.
We were put up at Fortune Hotel. We had breakfast and checked into one of our rooms (we got two individual rooms). First thing I did after stepping out was call up my parents and then inform my friends in Dubai that I had arrived. We didn’t rest for much because we only had one day to roam around Dubai.
We briefly caught up with my good friend Azhad, walked around Deira a bit and then made our way to the creek.
The abra ride costs just AED1 is one of the must-dos when in Dubai, be it in daytime or at night.
Once in Bur Dubai, I showed my brother the souq.
I’ve covered the souq a lot more in my trip from April. We went around a bit, bought some chocolates and made our way towards the Bur Dubai bus station.
We were in Bur Dubai to meet my friend Jassim, who had invited me and my brother over to his house for lunch.
He picked us up in his Mitsubishi Pajero.
Once at home, we were treated some fantastic mutton biriyani Jassim’s mother-in-law prepared. It was brilliant! Oh, there was chicken too. Equally delicious.
After an extremely satisfying (and heavy) lunch, Jassim offered to drive us to our next destination.
Festival City is another mixed-use development, comprising of a mall (of course), residential apartments, offices and even a marina.
Once inside, the store offerings weren’t that different from any other major mall in Dubai.
Jassim quickly took us around to show us some more unique ‘water fountains’ inside Festival City.
Jassim dropped us off at Dubai Mall and we said our goodbyes.
We had booked our entry to Burj Khalifa’s At The Top for 8pm. But we quickly went around the mall before that.
My brother wasn’t really interested in going inside the aquarium. So we continued up.
He was tempted to pick a unit which cost half of what it costs back in India. But given the size of the entire package (and fearing customs,) he dropped the idea.
When it was time, we made our way to the At The Top counter in the basement.
My brother isn’t staring at a white screen, watch this video for what you really see.
Once we reached the top via the fastest elevator in the world, I switched to video:
This is the view at night in photos.
This was the second time for me ‘At the Top,’ a more detailed description of the experience can be viewed here.
Once out, the Dubai fountains were on show.
We took the shuttle bus from Dubai Mall to the metro station. Even though we were tired and sleepy, we still decided to quickly check out Mall of the Emirates — four stops from Dubai Mall.
We were here mostly to check out the Virgin Megastore. Last time I was here, I spent quite a bit on video games. This time, we just picked up some blu-rays, a music CD… and then some more video games.
Dinner was shawarmas, which though better than the stuff you get in India, wasn’t as good as the ones I grew up eating in Bahrain. The Egyptian joint we picked it up stuffed it with french fries and wrapped it in kuboos instead of Lebanese bread. These were the kind of shawarmas pretty much everywhere. I don’t know, they were inferior in my opinion.
After dinner, I roamed around a bit in search of empty carton boxes big enough to hold our IKEA purchases but despite asking just about every cold store in our vicinity, the best I got were water bottle boxes. I came back with one but realized it was grossly insufficient.
Next morning, I had to call up my friend Azhad for help.
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