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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home

This is where I remember growing up; spending a few formative years of what I consider to be my early childhood. Surprisingly enough, not too much has changed, at least not in terms of the outwardly appearance of this building. This is my address, this is where I call home. It's the Sheikhah Mariam building in Karama, Dubai, UAE. You're looking at Block 4 in this picture, and I seem to have taken the photo just as one of my Pakistani neighbors engages in a bit of "long-distance conversation" with the watchman, who happens to be leaning well forward in rapt attention from the terrace.
There wasn't a whole lot in terms of trees and things outside this apartment block, so if you're wondering where all of that went, well, it was never there to begin with. This is Dubai people, and it may be beautiful because they have flowers and date palms all over the place, but it's still the desert that surrounds us on at least three sides. Now, over the years, Karama has seen itself go from "one of the first and most popular residential neighborhoods" to "we're planning to demolish most of the apartments in this area to make way for newer and more modern residential complexes". Think that's funny? Well, when I last visited in December, 2003, there was already talk of having to move out because they were going to raze the place. But, five years on, it still seems to be hanging in there. However, there are a couple of changes that are worth mentioning.

The most prominent change is that of the intensely, and often very hotly contested parking spaces in front of the apartment building. It has led to the most congested parking situation that I have witnessed in this country; a country where the rule of law is laid down much in the same way that the Rock managed to "lay the smack down". Every single parking slot has two cars in it. In fact, if a family owns more than one vehicle -- well below the norm in most cases -- they use one of the cars as a sort of place marker, reversing to the furthest extent possible to prevent people from parking behind them and boxing them in. Here, why don't you take a look.
Other factors that compound this problem are the fact that there is no dedicated parking area for the residents of this building. The apartments across the road from this place have their own parking area where "Visitors parking is not allowed", as those signs read. But not for us. In fact, as more and more street parking goes under the meter, people converge on "free parking" areas, naturally. Unfortunately for people in this vicinity, this area of madness in front of our fair apartment block is going to become "paid parking" next month. Ouch! Now, what will people do with the one car that they had as spare to use to save a parking space for themselves? Maybe you should've thought of that first, eh?

Last but certainly not least, I saw this awesome bike parked outside, and I knew I just had to take a picture of it. The engine looks huge compared to the rest of the bike. Now, not being a connoisseur of two-wheelers, at all, I have had some difficulty identifying the model of this bike. It's a Yamaha, but which one? Let me know if you have an idea. I mean, it has a radiator on it! What's up with that? And, I can think of at least three Indian cars that have smaller engines than this glorious beast!

Didn't see the radiator? Well, at the risk of sounding naive and making a big deal when there really is no need, here's a picture of this bike from the front. If you see a clunky square piece on the bike, kind of above and behind the front tyre, well that's what I'm talking about.
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