lundi 1 juin 2015


BEST THING ABOUT ABU DHABI IS KERALA! And the other foreign workers from Asia
I had a 12 hour transit in AUH recently, in a strange and imaginative itinerary, coming in from JNB and going to GRU!
The airport is luxurious and the administrative jobs, such as Immigration and Police, fall to young Emirati. You could see the arrogance in their faces, after all the whole world is seeking them, as almost all the service jobs are done by Indians from the subcontinent and Filipinos, all the laboring jobs done by Pakistani and Bangladeshi, the security men are usually Nepali.
I was standing in line to clear the immigration, to get to the hotel to rest a little bit before flying out again. The insipid look on the face of the Immigration official portended trouble. I could see them grilling other transit passengers.
Where are you coming from? The burly Emirati, with the insipid face, with a voice to go with it, demanded.
Johannesburg. I tried to be mindful of the present and be polite.
Is that in Germany? The insipid voice enquired without much interest.
I gently corrected him, but he was already on to the next question.
Is this your first visit?
Transit, to a flight tomorrow morning.
Have you been in Dubai?
Yes, in transit many years ago.
He looks through the passport, then demands, with an added sense of authority.
But I see no stamps from Dubai in your passport.
I was in transit, so there are no stamps.
He calls over to the young man, with the same insipid face but much lighter in weight with a cleaner outfit, discusses the matter, in Arabic, of course. A note of seriousness comes over his face, adding to the dullness.
No stamps, why?
I was in transit, so there are no stamps.
Donning further self-importance, he waddles away from his post, motions me to follow and gives my passport over to a Policeman and warbles.
The policeman asks me, transit in Dubai? In the past?
Yes, I am still polite but trying to enjoy this comedy of fools.
( Etihad Airways, such a well run airlines with a CEO from Australia and the crew from Asia and Europe. My reason for being in Abu Dhabi, in transit!)
He turns around, rebukes the burly Emirati with an insipid face; Transit passengers do not get stamps. This admonition seems to have had no effect on the burly one. He waddles back to his cubicle. He demands my passport which the Policeman had given me and cleared my exit. The defeated, burly man with less than clean outfit, this look now has to be saved.
No stamps? He repeated, as if to no one in particular.
I said to him, slowly, in transit there are no stamps. He reluctantly gives me back my passport.
Compare this surliness to the friendly smiles and the intelligence, curious attitudes of young men brought over from Kerala to serve these people.
Mohammed the driver who became a friend quickly had a dignified look to his face. He was from Trivandrum and we talked about Kerala of course. We exchanged telephone numbers and promised to meet each other again, in the future transits through Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Balas was at the reception of the SPG hotel, which turned out to be a good hotel. He welcomed me warmly. I talked to him about my interest in Fort Cochin and he couldn’t believe that I was not from Cochin, when the details had to be written down.

(view from my hotel spg Aloft in Abu Dhabi)
I thought of my good friend Ian Berger, who spent his entire life doing humanitarian medicine with particular reference to Africa. Some of us lead a life, slightly unconventional so that the truth about us seems a little bizarre, at times an impossibility.
These intelligent people brought over from Kerala on contracts and living in less than pleasant circumstances ( perhaps the “new’ India will lure them back?), has to be subservient to a group of desert based, camel drivers with petrodollars.
Like in Salalah in Oman, Abu Dhabi is a little Kerala, it is they I want to talk and meet while I am here. I have no desire to get to know the mind set of desert dwellers in long white frocks.
(leaving Abu Dhabi behind!)
As an aside, I thought to myself, as long as the Arabs are insipid as the Emirati that I encountered here, Israel has nothing to fear.
There is not a single piece of desert in Kerala, a new friend mentioned, here there is no greenery.
Also, there is less human intelligence, less hospitality, fewer manners, less educated people.. Metaphorically as barren as the desert.
They (UAE) can take the best of Asia, as seen above the Keralites are of quality. Whereas, they cannot afford the best of the west, they (UAE) take what they can get. The Asians choose to come here for various reasons; the Westerners are chosen to come here, because of lack of competition from their fellow countrymen and women. I can see that the expat culture is geared to the low quality western lifestyle (Yoga, Zumba, Aerobics, clubbing, alcohol and trekking; and not intellectual discourse or bookstores, or arts or literature, in general). Easterners might long for family life, company, shared food of their countries of origin, and camaraderie which accentuates their cultural identity.
A good friend of mine from the West, worked in his country’s embassy here, jokingly added we get extra pay to be here, I think it is the “boredom allowance’!
Dedicated to the wonderful Filipinos and Keralites who give the Gulf Countries their charm.