Saturday, April 4, 2009

India to Ras al Kaimah

At Indira Gandhi Airport, it's chaos. There's no orderly boarding protocol, everyone charges into the plane at once. Consequently there was a long queue towards the door. Behind us on the ramp were five Emirati men in traditional long white tunics and skullcaps, one of them bearing a distinct resemblance to a young Osama bin Laden. I eavesdropped nervously on their conversation, which was being conducted in a fluent mix of Arabic and English. They were discussing a business colleague - a nice guy but incompetent.
"So if we fire him," said one, "How much will it cost us?"

"Oh, maybe ten grand," said another.

"OK, let's do it!"

It was a only three-hour flight from Delhi to Dubai, unremarkable except for the skill of our pilot in taking off and landing our Boeing-777. He accomplished this so smoothly that, even though I was looking out of the window, I could not pinpoint the moment at which the plane made contact with the ground.

As we approached the Emirates, the desert below looked like the top of a well-browned loaf sprinkled with poppy-seeds.

White cubes of buildings reflected the sun as we descended towards the city.

With only carry-on baggage were quickly through customs and immigration and emerged to find the lovely daughter waiting for us, with a shawl for me in case I'd neglected to wear a suitably modest top. (I hadn't)

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