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“Two roads diverged in the woods and I,
I took the one with the lesser toll, and that has made all the difference.”
I have been in the UAE for more than a year now. Yet I have never ventured to the famous Dubai Creek. It brings back a lot of childhood memories. Memories that have faded now, but stuff that comes back sometimes. The Dubai Creek is a passage of water of that divides two very important parts of Dubai – Deira and Bur Dubai. While one can use many of the motor bridges and tunnel to cross this passage of water, there is one way one way which brings back too many memories. That way is the Abra.
The Abra is a small motorized ferry service to cross the creek. Made of rickety wood, it has been in service ever since people can remember. There are many of them that pile up on either side to make the short journey from one side of the river to the other. All kinds of people pile up on the Abra. Men, women, children, Pakistanis, Indian, Americans, Europeans. Everyone is equal on the Abra for the short 5 minute journey. Everyone is one dirham. What a wonderful world that is.
I usually try to make it to the temple in Bur Dubai on the weekends. This weekend I parked on the Deira side. I was afraid to ask where the Abra taxi point was, as this was as common knowledge as knowing which country you were in. I mustered up some courage and asked a super-polite Bangladeshi who pointed me in the right direction.
When I reached there, I asked a Filipino lady if I had to get a ticket. She raised an eyebrow, then smiled when she realized I was genuinely asking and smiled when she told me “Everyone pay one dirham, go past!”
Just when I made it to the taxi point, a boat pulled up. The tamil guy driving it jumped out as it bumped its way along the quay to come to a halt. He whistled and everyone ran. Not like for a Mumbai train, no! Everyone ran in a line. I prayed I would get the seat in front. I intended to click away to glory. I was lucky. The guy walked around and collected his
As we made away across the beautiful, glimmering waters it struck me that I was the making a journey made by another man roughly my age some years ago. I choked on the thoughts, but a boat passed us, and the people waved and took our photos as we returned the favor. The sun was setting fast and the long fingers of sunlight caressed the water as our boat patiently cut across. All around boats were going up and down.
I reached the other side and found that the Abra taxi point on the Bur Dubai was very close to the temple. It actually dropped one of right in the middle of a renovated souq area.
I was expecting the journey back to be even more breath-taking. I wasn’t disappointed, not in the least. The sun had left for the day, and the moon was out on patrol. While I couldn’t have the pleasure of a full moon, there was still enough of it to lighten things up. As we made our way back, lots and lots of gulls flew past our boat, forgetting that we were there, and changing their flight paths only at the last second. As the light completely withdrew, formation after formation of gulls made their way across the sky.
The lights were on all over. The big boats that were looking so dull when I had arrived, had now lit up with colorful lights. They offered Dhow cruises – a night dinner for people, while driving gently along the Creek.
You can see more pics of the trip at my photoblog.
As I reached my car, I realized that the trip has been wonderful for one important reason. In 2 hours, I had traveled my land, sea and air. I drove my car, rode the Abra and my heart soared.
When I came back home, I searched for the one pic of that guy who had made his way down the creek years ago.
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