Dubai dreams…

26 10 2010

The too salty water licks the toes of the mighty plastic forest of skyscrapers that desperately huddle together on the edge of the Gulf. We have travelled long and hard to make it to this point, swerving our way across the planet to try to wiggle our way to Thailand but much has muddied the path – which looked so clear and easy on our blow up globe; Ethnic fighting in Osh upset our Stans route, the devastating floods washed away our road in Northern Pakistan, the subsequent fighting made the journey through southern Pakistan too dangerous and the visa too hard to get hold of….. and so here we are. In Dubai. Sitting in a friend of Liz’s flat (thank all the baby cheeses for St Laura the jolly without whom we would be in financial meltdown!) holding tight to a scrap of paper with a hastily written number on it – our last hope.  ‘Try and get a Dhow’ yet another voice advises ‘Michal Palin did it!’.. and so with moist patches of hope gathering in our hearts we head off to the Seaman’s Mission. A fine place to find a Captain!

‘Seaman’s ID’ the gruff security guard barks at us, eyeing us suspiciously… Liz shoots me a look, ‘do seamen have ID?’ her raised eyebrows venture … ‘I have a salt encrusted t-shirt’ I whisper ‘do you think that will help’, Liz delivers me a surreptitious thump before returning to Mr Gruff… ‘emm.. we are looking for a Captain .. well for passage to India.. we have bikes and .. em .. it’s for charity .. and em….’ she falters, this is beginning to sound like a bad episode of Pugwash.. ‘emm.. we thought here.. we might find someone, someone who could take us’. Mr Gruff rolls back on his heels for a moment, clearly weighing us up… he huffs out a final and decisive garlicky gruff and disappears into the majesty of his tiny security box to return an unfathomably long 10 mins later and presents us with our little scrap of hope. ‘Try this number… John might be able to help, he runs the mission’.

Liz keys in the number and waits. John is helpful but clear ‘it’s illegal. After 9-11 things have tightened up – you could get passage on a container ship but only from Europe, good luck’. And with that our final little sandcastle of hope melted away.  Conflict and natural disaster have forced us to follow the land option into countries we never thought we’d go to and onto shores we didn’t ever dream of landing on. But now we have to fly – to get to India, to carry on to Thailand we have to fly over the sea. And so we will. But what we will do is fly to the tip – to Trivandrum. We will fly to the very bottom on India, because from the bottom of India to Kathmandu is as far as from the border of Iran to Kathmandu .. so we will still be able to say we have travelled the overland distance from the UK to Thailand.  This compromise affords our sagging little hearts a slight pep. So now we face the challenge of boxing our bikes and praying the bikes can make the journey without sustaining any damage. And the even greater challenge of gearing up emotionally and physically ready to face Mighty Mother India!

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2 responses

26 10 2010
nick rawling

shakti,

pray to Ganesh and all obstacles will be removed. Have it large in India x

6 11 2010
Alastair Humphreys

All the best of luck in India!
In the long run your meandering and circuitous route will come to feel like all part of the big adventure so try to enjoy it…
Alastair

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