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Dubai Drop-ins

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Ashish Jagtiani is the name he was born with, though that is a bit of an urban legend. He goes by the name of Jaggu, a very popular name across the airwaves. Dry, dark and lucid would describe him aptly, where one can only hope that one is not on the receiving end of that unholy trio.

This whole Santa thing about ‘tis the season to be jolly has just passed us by, but it is also visitor season in the UAE and let me tell you, it can get a bit difficult to be jolly in those circumstances.

There are broadly two types of visitors, those that you would like to have visit and those you would not. Let me delicately and subtly lay out the various types of unwelcome trippers and the reasons why some fall into the latter category, aside from the fact that they’re nincompoops.

Doesn’t feel like we are on holiday – This is the type that want to do on holiday exactly what they do at home. So meals will be daal, subzi, roti. They will wear polyester pants and full sleeve shirts on everyday of their vacation. And of course, they must watch their favourite saas-bahu soap every night, come what may. In one way, this lot is easy to please. But in a whole different way, why are they leading their everyday lives in my personal space. If you’re going to stick to your routine, do it in your house, not mine.

Been here a dozen times, but here we are again – This lot have seen everything, Burj, Yas Island, Miracle Garden, all the malls and every beach and corniche. But here they are again, for the umpteenth time, wondering why Dubai is not building new things fast enough for them to see. These are the people I take to construction sites. I show them the as yet incomplete frame of Dubai Frame, the unbuilt gates of Bollywood Park and the piece of land near Dragonmart where they will build a huge cage for the new dragon that will be importing soon. I’ll admit, sometimes out of desperation, I make up my own tourist attractions.

Because it’s free – ‘You’re in Dubai now? I’ve always wanted to come, but what to do, I’ve been so busy. Maybe sometime I’ll come see you.’ Next week they are at your door. Not only is their stay free, but they are firm believers in the philosophy that the guest must never pay. So their eating, partying, touristy stuff and sometimes even shopping are paid for by the host. Of course, they vehemently offer to return the favour when you visit them, but you know that’s never going to happen.

Unable to understand exchange rates – This is a matter of great convenience. Say you went home to Karachi or Bombay or Colombo. Your friend took you out and spent a thousand rupees on dinner. Soon after, your friend visits Dubai and expects the favour to be returned in equal measure. Since he spent a thousand, the expectation is that you will spend a thousand too, in Dirhams. Conversion rates are conveniently beyond their comprehension, but that’s only until they have to pay for something.

Won’t carry stuff to or fro – They’re coming to stay with you, you’re taking them around, taking care of them and all of that. But ask them to bring a package for you from home or carry important stuff back, and it feels like you’ve asked them to will their house to you. You will get a discourse on how much luggage they are carrying, how small their bags are, how they always get stopped by customs and how they are already carrying stuff for other people. The interesting thing about this is your visitors might not have place to carry stuff for you, but the entire time they are your SAFFRON 6 guests, they will take calls from people telling them to buy stuff for them and bring back home, which they will do happily.

Walking is impossible – This type of guest cannot have their feet touch the tarmac for the entire time they are in Dubai. From the time you pick them up from the airport, because, you know, how can they stand in a line for cabs, to the time you drop the back to the terminal, their delicate feet must not feel the strain of walking. So they will be picked up and dropped at their convenience. To the mall, from the metro, at a friend’s doorstep, across the city. Somehow the fact that you may have better things to do escapes them.

You are their personal secretary – From well before they arrive, you are sent a list of people they have to meet when they are here. Suddenly, it becomes your job to co-ordinate everybody’s schedules and time and place of meeting. It would probably include people you don’t even know, that you have to call and introduce yourself and then set up appointments with complete strangers on someone else’s behalf. Sometimes the temptation to set up these meetings in the middle of the desert tempts me. Set it up, put them in a cab and have them literally get lost.

Take personalised gifting too seriously – Since they are coming to stay with you, they must get you a gift, so it might as well be something they like. Let’s face it, your preferences are not their concern. Don’t like ornate flower vases, too bad, they love it. Here’s your gift, give it pride of place in your living room. Never enjoyed dhoklas, here’s a big boxful anyway. Don’t worry about eating it. Your guests love it, they’ll polish off their own gift before they leave

The full time complainers – Never sure why this type even bothers visiting. It is their moral duty to complain about everything they experience on their visit, to the point it makes you feel bad even though it has nothing to do with you. It’s too hot, or it’s too cold, the metro walkways are too long, cars are too fast, there’s too many restaurants to decide where to eat, the malls are too big and my personal favourite, the beach is too sandy.