Sunday, February 20, 2005

Life in the Muddle East

Have I been to the malls? Have I availed of fabulous, stupendous, never-before discounts at the Dubai Shopping Festival? Have I called up any of the 65 ‘contacts’ given to me by friends and acquaintances at the mere mention of the words, ‘going to Dubai’?

Sadly, none of the above. Life, in the last few days, has revolved around unlearning well-entrenched habits and re-orienting myself to the Muddle East.

Crossing the road – not even an issue on the harum-scarum Bombay streets – now requires planning, prayer and insurance. There I am, standing on the kerb, heart thudding. I look right and put one tentative foot out, only to throw it over my shoulder in morbid terror in the next instant. The driver in the gleaming Pajero, racing in from the left slams the brakes and looks at me balefully. Heart thudding still, I look back belligerently. It’s his fault, first, for driving on the wrong side of the road, and, second, for not honking incessantly, mindlessly and deafeningly from at least a mile away. How is one supposed to cross the road when vehicles sneak up in silence?

Sitting at my desk at work is no less bewildering. The desk calendar has been tampered with. M T W T etc., is now S S M T... I’m not complaining about the weekend in the middle of the week, of course. It’s starting work on a Saturday, and working right through Sunday, when family and friends in the un-muddled parts of the world are doing weekend-ly things, that I find galling.

If all this wasn’t befuddling enough, my eyes are playing tricks on me. A few days ago, I logged on to and typed in a search word. Nothing happened. I hit a few more keys, and that’s when I saw the letters creeping in from the right. I shook my head, rubbed my eyes and tried again, all day and on the days that followed. It never happened again. But I could have sworn that it happened the first time. Or did it?

Guess settling down is unsettling right now. But two things are comfortingly familiar.

One, bloggers are some of the nicest people around. A big thank you to Manu and Amit who took me out on my first weekend-in-the-middle-of-the-week.

And two, advertising hasn’t changed one bit. Deadlines are still ‘yesterday’, clients continue to write copy and client servicing still stumble on the brief after the first round of creatives are presented.

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