Sunday, January 31, 2016

बापू, ढ़ूँढ़ ही लो तुम कोई नया भारत!

महात्मा गांधी के प्रति, एक राष्ट्र के तौर पर हमारी उपेक्षा अब पूरी तौर पर कृतघ्नता में बदल चुकी है, ऐसा मुझे लगता है.  3० जनवरी 1948 को उनकी हत्या के बाद साल दर साल उनके विचारों की भी हत्या होती रही हैं अभी कल, बापू की पुण्य तिथि पर, ख़बर है कि कुछ युवकों ने सार्वजनिक सभा कर के खुशी का इजहार किया, मिठाईयां बांटी वगैरह. सोशल मीडिया में गोडसे के बरसों पुराने अपराध को खुले तौर पर एक वीरोचित कदम ठहराने की बातें होती रही. मुझे सन् 1991 की एक ऐसी ही ख़बर याद हो आयी जब बापू की समाधि पर कुछ युवकों ने तोड़-फ़ोड़ की थी और मैंने बहुत क्षुब्ध हो कर एक कविता जैसा कुछ लिखने का प्रयत्न किया था. आज एक बार फिर मुझे वैसा ही महसूस हुआ है और उस ''कविता जैसे कुछ'' को मैं यहां साझा कर रहा हूं.
कर चुके उद्धार का प्रण पूरा तुम?
ओढ़ा चुके ममता की चादर सर्वजन पर?
अब निर्रथक हो तुम
इस धरा के लिये मिथ्या, मिथक हो तुम!|
जाओ, और ढ़ूँढ़ो कोई नया भारत
चिरनिद्रा तो तुम्हारी पूजनीय हो,
अगर था जीवन संघर्षरत |
ना, हम यहां सोने नहीं देंगे तुम्हें!
कलुषित राजनीति की आवाज़ें हैं अब हमारा मंगल गान,
तांडव करता है हमारे ह्रदयों मे
और भावनाओं का अपमान |
श्रद्धा-सुमन, जो थे तुम्हारे लिये,
कुचल डालेंगे हमारे मदांध कदमों में
बस. . . अब ना बोलो, ना मुस्कुराओ !
हम नहीं चाहते कि,
विष-वृक्ष जो सींचा है हमने,
राख़ हो जाये तुम्हारी निश्चल मुस्कुराहट से;
हम नहीं चाहते कि,
हमारे नेत्रों को ढ़क सकने वाला अज्ञान का पर्दा
हटा पायें तुम्हारे हाथ;
हम घूमना चाहते हैं अभी भी,
लहू से रंगे, एक दूसरे के;
हम विचरना चाहते हैं अभी भी,
छिछली मानसिकता के जंगलों में;
तुम्हारी यह उजली सोच,
नहीं रह सकती अब,
हमारी कालिख़ पुती कोठरी में !
फिर दाग़ देंगीं तुम्हें , हम - यह तुम्हारी संतानें!
इसलिये बापू,
अब ढ़ूंढ़ लो कोई नया भारत
हां, अब ढ़ूंढ़ ही लो कोई नया भारत   

Friday, January 08, 2016

2015 - In the Rear View Mirror

As the year hurtled towards a close in the evening of 31st December 2015, I realised with horror that I was not ready with my year-end list at all. The loyal audience of three and a half people who read my blog would be hugely disappointed, it means - a catastrophe, which should be avoided at all costs.

Conveniently, 2015 has given me some truly first-time-in-life experiences, which I could share with my einee, minee, me & mo. So here goes, even though a bit late:

1. Wassup? whatsApp?? - Till last year, sloth kept me away from the chatting app whatsApp, which was getting ever popular. Sloth combined with an old, stupid (that is what a phone is, when it is not smart, is that not?) cellphone. Ergo, peace prevailed, riding on a righteous disdain for people engaged in this "useless activity".
In 2015, however, this app strode in to my life with a vengeance, the result being that at the end of the year, I was being seriously considered for the award for "most whatsapp-distracted husband" in the country.
It was not all bad however. To be fair, the pros outweighed the cons. whatsApp made it possible to bring some of my oldest and loveliest friends together. The companionship and old memories made all of it worthwhile. In the family too, it re-oiled the massive relationship machinery (and thank God for that!) - cousins, aunts, uncles, inlaws.... Everybody was connected, much easily than ever before.
That I could torment people by easily sending them links of obscure pieces of writings or music which I thought they had to perforce enjoy, was an added joy.

2. Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan - In my existence of close to 5 decades, never before had I witnessed such strong eddies of religious & cultural identity engulfing me as they did in 2015. Politicians using religion for their electoral harvest is nothing new but this year, they bettered their own records, plunging to new lows.
Actors, who generally play safe by sticking to their dumb PR lines, came out openly with their anguish. But what actually shook me was the way otherwise harmless, sweet people around me seemed to suddenly spout devilish horns at imagined dangers to their identities. The fault-lines in the societal bedrock looked dangerously exposed.
I can only hope that this churning of emotions would ultimately yield the mythical nectar of better understanding and peace.

3. Play of Raagas and Taalas - My acute interest in the gloriously rich world of Indian classical music (matched unfortunately by my hopelessly inadequate knowledge) received a great fillip when I got a chance to attend Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Sangeet Mahotsav in Pune.

For the uninitiated, Sawai Gandharv Mahotsav is probably the oldest, largest and most popular Indian classical performance festival in India. It was organized in 1953 for the first time by that shining gem of Indian classical music scene - Late Pt. Bhimsen Joshi in the memory of his Guru - Sawai Gandharva. Over the decades, it has acquired a cult status, riding on the brilliant performances of Panditji himself and other great artists.

During the two days I was there, I was lucky to catch some top class performances by greats like Pt Raghunath Palshikar (vocals), Pravin Goskhindi (flute), Rajendra Gangani (Kathak), Shubha Mudgal, Suresh Wadkar and the worthy disciple of Pt Bhimsen Joshi - Pt Upendra Bhat (all vocals). Pt Upendra Bhat's introductory words in praise of his Guru were specially a treat to listen to. Here is the video on YouTube:

What also gladdened my heart was that  my fears of Indian classical arts losing touch with common man were laid to a complete rest. Crowds were thronging the venue - crowds consisting of young and old and singles and whole families including small children - their knowledge and interest clearly demonstrated in their standing ovations and full-throated encore calls at appropriate moments. I am reassured that Indian classical arts scene is faring very well even under the onslaught of, well, "different" music emanating from all around.  

4.  Comic Con Delhi 2015  -   I have been a comic books’ fan all my life. Brought up on the steady diet of Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Bahadur, Lotpot, Madhu Muskaan, Billoo, Pinky – in short, the whole pantheon of Indrajaal Comics, Amar Chitrakatha and later Diamond Comics, my childhood love affair has continued right in to my ripe adulthood. So when my teenaged son this year implored me to buy a couple of tickets to Comic Con Delhi, I jumped at it and brought three – one each for my son and my nephew, and of course, one for me.

Comic Con is an international comic convention, started as a fan convention in 1970 in San Diego, USA and has grown in to variants all over the globe. Comic Con India was started in 2011 mainly as a launch pad for indie comics. The format now includes mainly exhibition stalls by different comic publishing houses or comic drawing artists of India, along with various interactive sessions, workshops, interviews by comic book artists and writers.

What I loved in Comic Con Delhi was the sheer energy and a child-like sincerity of everyone around – volunteers, exhibitors, participants and visitors alike. Groups of young people were dressed up as various comic characters for cos play (costume play) – my son carried a Star Wars light saber himself. So at one corner you could bump in to Arjun and Karna while at another you could be slurping your coffee with Iron Man. Lots of exhibition stalls housed marketing merchandise and others some really talented artists with some amazing works on display. In short, it was an event with unapologetic, clean fun. A rarity indeed.

What I would love to see is more Indian references in the works of artists. I found it slightly puzzling that most of the artists drew on popular western culture and media (tv shows, films) when India offers such a huge kaleidoscope of experiences – be it in politics, sports, cinema, society. It is not a "swadeshi" war-cry but surely, references one could relate to more easily could bring in more visitors. Who knows someday, I might be emboldened enough to saunter in as a balding, paunchy Phantom in one of the Comic Cons to come. Wait, Phantom was an Indian?? Or was he?

Phew.. that is a load off my chest. I might as well start drawing up the experiences' list for 2016! Happy New Year 2016 my dear reader!    

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Piku - Motion and Emotion

Finally, with Piku, my prayers have been answered.

For an unabashed fan of the vintage Amitabh Bachchan of the 70s and 80s, that is me, last 10 years have not been much rewarding. Apart from the occasional Paa and Cheeni Kum, I have been watching this colossal talent being wasted in trite, melodramatic patriarch roles and over-the-top dialogues - more of the same, actually.  

I have longed to see Amitabh Bachchan stepping out of this enforced centrality and gravitas of his "Big B image" more often, exerting himself out of the comfort zone which has been thrust on him. For all these years, I have been waiting for him to do something irreverent, funny, delightfully enjoyable and ordinary, which many of us remember him doing with so much aplomb in films like Chupke Chupke.

That is why I say - finally, with Piku, my prayers been answered.

Piku is the latest directorial offering from Shoojit Sirkar wherein AB plays a cranky, old, overbearing, and severely constipated father - B Banerjee - to a totally stressed out, young entrepreneur Piku, played by Deepika Padukone.

Theirs is an edgy relationship with lots of demands from Banerjee and lots of reprimanding from Piku, with Banerjee's constipation playing more than a bit role. Choudhary, played by Irrfan, inadvertently gets caught in this crossfire but adroitly assuages the situation, adding an interesting dimension to the story.

The story, frankly, does not count for much but it is the interaction and relationship between the characters that 'drives' the movie. Shoojit has to be applauded that he has taken a wisp of an idea and developed it into a genuinely funny film.    

Deepika has played the central role of Piku with aplomb, never exceeding and never falling short of the required emotion. Irrfan is already established in an orbit wherein his acting prowess need not be discussed. He shines through and through with his usual subtlety. For me, though, the takeaway is Amitabh Bachchan in his effortless (what am I saying!) and charming portrayal of an old Bengali gentleman who loves his life and his daughter very much, in that order, but finally learns to let go.

A must watch. Specially for old fogeys like me, who are still hooked on to AB of the yore. And for the younger lot. To discover why.

(Star cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan, Deepika Padukone, Jisshu Sengupta, Moushumi Chatterjee, Raghuvir Yadav)      

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! - The Leap

It has taken "Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!", the latest Dibakar Banerjee movie, to bring me out of a long, self-induced slumber. 

Byomkesh Bakshi is a fictional detective created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay in the 1930s. Most of us would remember his exploits from  from a Basu Chaterjee serial on Doordarshan in the early nineties. Shining through the lovable Doordarshan tackiness was the sheer ingenuity of the stories and brilliance of the character, played out by Rajit Kapur. This movie succeeds in bringing alive that ingenuity and brilliance, beyond mere nostalgia. 

"Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!" is based in the Calcutta of the 1940s, when the British were still ruling India and is supposedly based on Byomkesh's first case. The plot takes off when Byomkesh, who is still in college, is approached by Ajit who requests him to look for his missing father. As the manhunt progresses, something bigger than just a missing person mystery unravels. There are newer secrets lurking around each corner - drug smuggling, Chinese gangs, local politics and pretty cinestars. Providing a further interesting backdrop is the World War II animosity between Britain and Japan. Speaking more could work as a spoiler for my more intuitive readers so let me just say that the end befits a juicy, racy potboiler of a spy-story.

The story is told in the noir film genre, with some astounding production design, edgy cinematography and tight editing. Dibakar has beautifully recreated Kolkata of the 40s, daringly and refreshingly different from the expected touristy collage of bright rickshaws, looming Howrah bridge, yellow ambassador taxis, chai cups, Ma Durga idols and trams. 

The noir feel - bleakness on the screen and the play of light and shadows and tight frames - works as a powerful aphrodisiac, adding to the delicious mystique and to the exciting sense of hurtling towards doom. I do not remember watching a film actually from the edge of my seat for a long time now. The music (credited to Sneha Khanwalkar and done by different bands it seems) keeps apace, in sync with the story. 

It is to the credit of this "look" and to the taut storyline, which makes one forget the discomfiture of Sushant Singh Rajput in the first half-an-hour of the film. As the film progresses, however, Sushant settles down nicely in to his understated act and proves Dibakar's choice right, ably aided by all his co-actors, notably by Neeraj Kabi as Dr. Anukul Guha. Kabi's is a scintillating performance which stays with you for quite some time after you come out of the movie. Other notable mentions include Swastika Mukherjee and Meiyang Chang.    

The only one small issue I have with the movie is the obviously north Indian Hindi spouted by the main actors - Sushant and Anand Tiwari (as Ajit). A slight lilt of Bangla would have sounded more natural and would have been a suitably flavored garnishing on this beautiful dish.

But of course do not let this trifle come in the way of your enjoyment. If you love a well-made potboiler, this is the movie for you. For the noir films in India, it is certainly a leap forward.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

कई चांद थे सरे-आस्मां (Kai Chaand Thhe Sare-Aasman)

अभी कुछ दिन हुये, शम्सुर्रहमान फ़ारूक़ी लिखित (और नरेश नदीम द्वारा अनुवादित) उपन्यास - "कई चांद थे सरे-आस्मां" में डूब कर निकला हूं|

डूबना यों कि आजकल जहां ज्यादातर हिंदी उपन्यास और कहानियों में कथानक और भाषा का एक अकाल सा है, वहां यह वृहद उपन्यास एक रसपूर्ण कथानक को अलंकृत भाषा के कलेवर में बहुत ख़ूबसूरती से समेटे हुये - जैसा कि ओरहान पामुक कहते हैं - एक 'अद्भुत' उपन्यास है| बहुत समय बाद किसी हिन्दी उपन्यास को पढ् कर यूं लगा मानो गहरे पानी में जा कर भाषा और भावनाओं के अनमोल मोती निकाल लाया हूं,  क्यूंकि फ़ारूक़ी साहब ने महीन बातों को, भावनाओं को ख़ूब पकड़ा है और शुष्क एतिहासिक तथ्यों को परिकल्पना और जानकारी के आधार पर पुष्ट ही नहीं, और अधिक जीवंत और स्पंदित कर दिया है|

७०० पृष्ठों का यह उपन्यास उन्नीसवीं सदी की दिल्ली की एक वास्तविक, एतिहासिक पात्र - वज़ीर ख़ानम - की कहानी है| वज़ीर कश्मीर से दिल्ली आ कर बसे एक परिवार की सबसे छोटी लाडली है जो एक तेज़ दिमाग़ रखती है और महत्वाकांक्षी है| वह कम उम्र में ही कुछ तो अपने हुस्न और नारी-शरीर की ताक़त का अहसास कर के और कुछ शायद लड़कपन की झोंक में यह कहने का दम रखती है कि "शाहजादा तक़दीर में लिखा होगा तो आयेगा ही| नहीं तो न सही| मुझे जो मर्द चाहेगा उसे चखूंगी, पसंद आयेगा तो रखूंगी| नहीं तो निकाल बाहर करूंगी|" पर सच ही, आगे उसकी ज़िंदगी में जो मर्द आते हैं, उसी की शर्तों पर - हां, यह बात ज़रूर है कि फिर वह उस से पूरा ईमानदार प्यार पाते हैं| (बताता चलूं कि यह वज़ीर ख़ानम मशहूर शायर नवाब मिर्ज़ा 'दाग़ देहलवी' की मां हैं, दाग़ के पिता लुहारू नवाब के ख़ानदान के थे)|

इस मुख्य कथानक के अलावा इस किताब की खासियत यह है कि फारूक़ी साहब ने कहानी कहते कहते अपना घोड़ा मर्ज़ी के मैदान में बेतहाशा दौड़ने दिया है| तो पाठक के लिये कहीं एक तरफ़ कश्मीर के कालीनों के रंग और धागे हैं तो दूसरी ओर दिल्ली के नामी शायरों के मतले और मक़्ते; एक और वज़ीर ख़ानम की दम रोक देने वाली ख़ूबसूरती है तो दूसरी ओर ठगों की जानलेवा हुश्यारियां; एक ओर राजपूताने की रेत का रंग हैं तो दूसरी ओर लाल क़िले के संगमरमर; एक ओर अंग्रेजी चालबाजियां हैं तो दूसरी ओर पुरानी दिल्लीवालों की दिलदारी....

ज्यादा नहीं कहूंगा - बहुत दिनों बाद कमाल की चीज़ आई है..पढ़िये!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

आज़ादी - हफ़ीज़ जालंधरी

आज जब देश आज़ादी की सड़सठवीं सालगिरह मना रहा है, मैं फिर अपने अंदर आशा और निराशा का एक तराजू पकड़े हुए समय को तौलने की कोशिश कर रहा हूँ. मैं यह निश्चय नहीं कर पाता कि हमारी आज़ादी कितनी और किन मायनों में सफल साबित हो पाई है. 

राजनीति के दिन-ब-दिन बढ़ते घपले, कॉर्पोरेट जगत का अंधा बाजारवाद, खेल के मैदानों मे पैसे की मारा-मारी, एंटेरटेनमेन्ट के नये बनते मापदंड, शासकीय और राजकीय उपेक्षा झेलता आम आदमी - इस सब नाटक को देख कर कभी कभी ऐसा लगता है कि हिन्दुस्तान में कुछ बारह - पंद्रह हजार लोगों का ऐसा  एक गिरोह है जिसके लिये हम सब इनकी सुविधानुसार और समयानुसार कभी दर्शक हो जाते हैं, कभी वोटर, कभी नौकरी मांगने वाले, कभी कन्सयूमरिस्ट मिडल क्लास या कभी कुछ और. पर जो कुछ भी होते  हैं, जाने-अनजाने रहते इनके रहम-ओ-क़रम पर ही हैं.

इस सब के चलते मुझे हफीज़ जालंधरी साहब की मशहूर रचना - आज़ादी- याद हो आई जो, मुझे लगता है, हमारे इस वक़्त का सही आईना है. यह रचना बहुत से ब्लॉगस् पर है, पर अपने यहां साझा करने का लोभ-संवरण नहीं कर पाया . कविता पढ़िये. और हां, स्वतंत्रता दिवस की बधाई!  - 

शेरों को आज़ादी है आज़ादी के पाबंद रहें
जिसको चाहें चीरें फाड़ें खायें पियें आनंद रहें

शाहीं को आज़ादी है आज़ादी से परवाज़ करे
नन्‍ही मुन्‍नी चिडियों पर जब चाहे मश्‍क़े-नाज़ करे

सांपों को आज़ादी है हर बस्‍ते घर में बसने की
इनके सर में ज़हर भी है और आदत भी है डसने की 

पानी में आज़ादी है घड़ियालों और नहंगों को
जैसे चाहें पालें पोसें अपनी तुंद उमंगों को

इंसां ने भी शोखी सीखी वहशत के इन रंगों से
शेरों, संपों, शाहीनों, घड़ियालों और नहंगों से

इंसान भी कुछ शेर हैं बाक़ी भेड़ों की आबादी है
भेड़ें सब पाबंद हैं लेकिन शेरों को आज़ादी है 

शेर के आगे भेड़ें क्‍या हैं इक मनभाता खाजा है
बाक़ी सारी दुनिया परजा शेर अकेला राजा है

भेड़ें लातादाद हैं लेकिन सबको जान के लाले हैं
इनको यह तालीम मिली है भेड़िये ताक़त वाले हैं 

मास भी खायें खाल भी नोचें हरदम लागू जानों के
भेड़ें काटें दौरे-ग़ुलामी बल पर गल्‍लाबानों के 

भेडि़यों से गोया क़ायम अमन है इस आबादी का
भेड़ें जब तक शेर न बन लें नाम न लें आज़ादी का

इंसानों में सांप बहुत हैं क़ातिल भी ज़हरीले भी
इनसे बचना मुश्किल है, आज़ाद भी हैं फुर्तीले भी 

सांप तो बनना मुश्किल है इस ख़स्‍लत से माज़ूर हैं हम
मंतर जानने वालों की मुहताजी पर मजबूर हैं हम

शाहीं भी हैं चिड़ियाँ भी हैं इंसानों की बस्‍ती में
वह नाज़ा अपनी रिफ़अत पर यह नालां अपनी पस्‍ती में

शाहीं को तादीब करो या चिड़ियों को शाहीन करो
यूं इस बाग़े-आलम में आज़ादी की तलक़ीन करो 

बहरे-जहां में ज़ाहिर-ओ-पिनहां इंसानी घड़ियाल भी हैं
तालिबे-जानओजिस्‍म भी हैं शैदाए-जान-ओ-माल भी हैं 

यह इंसानी हस्‍ती को सोने की मछली जानते हैं
मछली में भी जान है लेकिन ज़ालिम कब गर्दानते हैं 

सरमाये का जि़क्र करो मज़दूरों की इनको फ़िक्र नहीं
मुख्‍तारी पर मरते हैं मजबूरों की इनको फ़िक्र नहीं

आज यह किसका मुंह है आये मुंह सरमायादारों के
इनके मुंह में दांत नहीं फल हैं ख़ूनी तलवारों के 

खा जाने का कौन सा गुर है जो इन सबको याद नहीं
जब तक इनको आज़ादी है कोई भी आज़ाद नहीं 

ज़र का बंदा अक़्ल-ओ-ख़िरद पर जितना चाहे नाज़ करे
ज़ैरे-ज़मीं धंस जाये या बालाए-फ़लक परवाज़ करे

इसकी आज़ादी की बातें सारी झूठी बातें हैं
मज़दूरों को मजबूरों को खा जाने की घातें हैं 

जब तक चोरों-राहज़नों का डर दुनिया पर ग़ालिब है  
पहले मुझसे बात करे जो आज़ादी का तालिब है.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Big Five and the Burj Khalifa - 3 - Dubai Diary

This is the 3rd and last part of the 3-part travel diary "Big Five and the Burj Khalifa", featuring Dubai. You can read Part-1 here and Part-2 here.

A Platter of Skyscrapers & Flowers in the Desert 
I am standing in  front of our hotel on  Sheikh Zayed Road. Fresh off the flight from Nairobi, the contrast is striking - in place of nature's bounty we left behind in Kenya, here in front of us is a modern, man-made marvel of a city.
There is a row of skyscrapers of various shapes and sizes gleaming in the morning sun,  reflecting a stream of shiny cars whizzing past. Later in the evening, when we are standing at the beach, the famed Dubai skyline is replete with all kinds of skyscrapers, the most famous among them being the Burj Khalifa. 
Dubai Skyline
Our hotel has 65 floors and while I look down from our 41st floor room, I think I might not recommend Dubai to someone suffering from acrophobia.   
Panel of elevator buttons in our hotel 
 Along the road runs an excellently maintained, elevated metro-rail. The flyovers are beautifully painted in golden yellow, unlike the shabby concrete colored ones back home. There are neat rows of flowers blooming and lush grass carpet at some traffic intersection beneath the metro. I am told that the shiploads of fertile subsoil needed for flowers is imported from Holland. 
Many times during the two days I am here, I get the feeling that I am in the midst of a shiny tourist brochure of some city in future.    
Dubai came in to prosperity in the early seventies when oil was discovered here but it is in the last two and a half decades that it has really blossomed as a business, tourism and shopping centre of the world. 
The reason for this is clear as we roam about the city - the rulers have a vision and the will and enterprise to implement it. It helps, of course, that this is a constitutional monarchy. And also, that there is a faceless army of expats who toil behind the general store counters, metro counters, in schools, behind taxi steering wheels, in construction fields, wherever.   

The miniskirt and the abaya 
We have just come out of the hotel for some morning coffee when we see a couple of young girls getting out of a car. The girls are both clad in miniskirts. Miniskirts? Out on the street in the United Arab Emirates? I am surprised.  
Moving inside the coffee shop, I find myself queuing up behind a young girl clad in the traditional  abaya - loose black robe from head to toe - with only her face visible.  
Which is the real Dubai, I ask myself. 
In the two days we are there, I see that Dubai, which has Islam as its official religion, has achieved a comfortable juxtaposition of the miniskirt and the abaya to become a true cosmopolitan city-country. People from all over the world come here as tourists and for work, and Dubai accommodates all religious and social identities with confidence and aplomb, worthy of a mature state. 

The world's shopping mall
That Dubai is a shopper's paradise was not unknown to me. What I never imagined was the sheer scale and magnificence at which Dubai shops. 
Wikipedia lists 69 shopping malls in Dubai, but the list does not tell the whole story. Each of the mall is an island of cornucopia with the best brands from around the world vying for the shoppers' attention.   
With only a day and a half on our hands, we get a chance to visit three - Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and the Ibn Batuta Mall. 
Dubai Mall is the world's largest mall, with around 1200 stores, stretching along various levels and arms. It provides entrance to Burj Khalifa, and hosts magnificent Dubai Fountain.
Atrium in the Dubai Mall
Mall of the Emirates is the original shopping destination, and it seemed to me that it houses  exclusive brands. 
Mall of Emirates
Ibn Batuta Mall is a beautiful, themed shopping mall, based on the travels of famous Arab traveller Ibn Batuta. Ibn Batuta lived in the fourteenth century in Morocco and in the 30 years he travelled, he covered pretty much the whole world. 
This mall has different sections designed as the various places he visited. I wish we had more time to explore all the sections. 
Persia, in the Ibn Batuta Mall
At the top of the world..well almost.
Burj Khalifa strikingly demonstrates the power and beauty of superlatives in the modern world. It is a 163-floor building, the tallest in the world, and houses hotels, offices, residential apartments.      

Dubai markets all its attractions well. Burj Khalifa offers a chance to look out on the city from its 124th floor observation deck, and we realise this is probably the highest we would be able to get to on the Terra firma, bar the Everest. We decide to ride up and are able to get tickets for the 10pm slot.
We return in the night to join a queue, which passes through a succession of sleek galleries lined with attractive visuals about this modern architectural marvel to be finally let in to a plush elevator.
The adage of a journey being even more enjoyable than the destination is proved correct, as the elevator doors are shut. The walls are lined with moving visuals, emitting a bluish light within and soft music fills the cubicle. As the elevator starts its approx 1-minute journey upwards at a speed of 10mtrs per second and our ears start popping, the tempo of music slowly increases to match our rising excitement and reaches a crescendo, when the doors open to reveal a bejeweled Dubai glittering beneath our feet, beyond the glass walls of the observation desk.
From The Observation Deck
As we soak in the beauty of the scene below - streaks of lights of the traffic, gleaming rows of Dubai fountain, Burj Al Arab, our hotel, the Palm in the distance - we once again admire the bravado of the vision which has produced this feat - the Burj, and also this city called Dubai. 

And in the end - the wailing baby
It is the day we are flying out. Far behind us in the queue is a woman travelling with her baby. While she is trying to manage her luggage, her baby starts wailing uncontrollably.  When the wailing and her discomfort continues, the stern  official at the counter gets up to see what the commotion is about.
It seems to us that he is visibly irritated, as some of us are too. 
However, he calls out to someone and the mother and the baby are escorted to the counter, ahead of everybody else to be cleared on  priority. The queue resumes. 
We are back home the next day.
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