the church where Vasco da Gamma was buried.

“Image: Fort Cochin: the church where Vasco da Gamma was buried.

India: the last air-conditioned zone is the airport. Outside the airport what I will find from now on is just fans. The weather is overwhelmingly hot, it makes me relax and abandon myself to what happens around me. People are just like the weather; warm, friendly, passionate and very relaxed.

Around me, lots of colors!! The traditional clothing for women, the saaree, is made of 6 meters of multi-colored fabric and is a treat for the eyes.

People smile a lot and never say no.
When I need some information I have to ask twice, because Indians prefer to never give negative answers.

Fortunately, Indians have a very rich social life and are always well-informed and in contact with everything that happens around them.

There is a special nodding that looks a lot like “no” but it actually means “yes” ). 🙂 They’re adorable when they do it, especially for allowing and approving.

Men show their friendship by holding hands. It comes naturally and has no sexual connotation whatsoever. Nonetheless, psychologically speaking both feminine and masculine roles are clearly distributed in the relation.

I try a hitch-hike but several rickshaws suddenly appear.

The rickshaw is a 3-wheeled vehicle, a curious mix of a carriage with a motorbike or bike and it has pedals also. It is used just like a taxi.

So I get in the rickshaw and the driver is very kind and friendly. He is even willing to give up the ride when he sees a taxi coming my way. Because the traffic is insane, crossing the street is a real adventure!

The rules on the road are the same like the British ones: they use the left side of streets and the steering wheel in on the right. They respect this rule sometimes. It seems to be the only traffic rule. There are no policemen in the streets, but their drivers are really good at it.

On my first trip on a bus the driver invites me to join him in front, to better see the road tricks and acrobatics. No, I’m not in one of those “Need for Speed” races or in a circus show. Is just that we barely milimetrically pass other cars, people and motorbikes…

Nonetheless, no accident occurs!

The toilet is oriental. There is no toilet paper, Indians prefer to wash themselves. As a matter of fact the majority of the planet’s inhabitants use this more healthy method. Because they use the left hand in the restroom it becomes a taboo once at table. They use the right hand for eating. The left hand is used only for taking a bottle or handling other utensils.



Vikash – my friend in Dubai:
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Vikash is intelligent, sensitive and knowledge-oriented. This year he’ll graduate from a Master’s program in Business Management and he’ll probably make 2000 dollars a month. It’s not his ideal of a life, though.

We have the most exciting conversations and time seems to be expanding. He presents me Dubai at night; a lot light, many well-dressed people, night-clubs you can only get in if you are on the list, expensive cars, an image-centered universe …

The Emirates

At the border I feel like I am participating in the Olympics.

First of all it’s because the procedure for getting the U.A.E. visa has changed into an obstacle race with many desks. Second of all because the competitors in this race are from all possible races on Earth. There are many men of color, so different. They’re from Africa, Asia, North America. They’re Indians, Koreans, Japanese, Australians, Chinese, Europeans…

We all have the same goal, leaving this airport either on a plane or with a visa… and thus get inside the Emirates.

As usual, actually getting the visa takes longer than they say. Nobody seems to be able to provide me with explanations as to why extra-procedures are necessary: in the end, maybe I really do look like a terrorist 😀 The officer asks “problems with Tehran…!?” then smiles and stamps my passport.

Image: Burj Al Arab (which in Arabic means The Arabs’ Tower),a luxury hotel in Dubai, U.A.E
Burj Al Arab

The first step outside the airport is the first step outside the air conditioning zone. The high temperature and the wet climate make for difficulties breathing. The hitch-hike is OK and I reach the city on the second vehicle. 2/3 of the automobiles are Toyota. In here, in the summer nobody takes shower between 7 am and 11 pm. That’s because the cold water pipe is too hot.

Dubai and Sharjah are two cities close to one another, with amazing beaches, strange-looking and extremely high buildings.

After a short ride through the city I stop in a palm trees-park. With my backpack as a pillow, I lay down in the protective shade of a palm tree. After the mad race to Istanbul, nothing seems to bother me anymore. Everything is perfect. Outside there are 50 degrees and what I inhale is half water, still I fall asleep under the palm tree and it feels good, like nothing bad can happen.

The mosques are superb with their beautiful colors and the architecture different from Islamic standards. Is the people that impress me less. The Arabs in the Emirates are so different from all Arabs I’ve met till now. They are cold, distant and very suspicious. I have the longest and most interesting conversations with Pakistanis and Indians. In the floor I live in there are forty Indians. They are very passionate and interested in everything is new and different. They receive my presentation on Romania with obvious joy.

In Dubai everybody working in services is from other countries. It’s hard to believe they are building a city almost entirely on sands. The rhythm they build in is crazy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In few years Dubai will certainly make in the Top 10 cities of the world. Not in my top of favorite cities. It’s artificial, expensive and so superficial.