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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Spring time….lovely weather….wide roads penetrating the deserts…..a three hour long drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and finally, I was in the Dubai airport to get back home….

The car stopped not far from the airport entrance and the sixty-something year old, kurta clad wrinkle faced, bearded person, who has been driving this vehicle got down to pick my luggage. Somehow I managed to dissuade him not to pick my luggage. He walked to the trolley section and got one trolley where I loaded my baggage. Then shook hands with him and waved him goodbye…

I still had three hours in the airport….did some minor shopping and then relaxed in the airport….one of my shortest trips…just three days….kept on reminiscing the last three days….

A unique mix….both Indians and Pakistanis form an integral chunk of population of this part of the Arab world…the deserts…the classiest buildings and towers…the Dubai FM…and the even the Karachi Durbar (the popular Pakistani restaurant in Dubai)….and the drives…especially the last one…from Abu Dhabi to Dubai....and the chitchat I had with the driver…

I was tired and would have rather preferred to take a nap during the drive…but then the driver asked me something “Aap Bombay se hain?”….I gave a reflexive nod and asked him if he was a native of one of the Emirates…There was a change in the expression of his face…he looked down…and stammered…nahin, hum Pakistan se hain, 20 saal se yahin pe hain…Do saal mein ek baar Pakistan jaate hain.

Somehow the conversation proceeded and I enjoyed talking with this person…Ahmed was his name and I addressed him as “Ahmad Bhai”. Perhaps I am too young to address him this way, but then I couldn’t think of a better way to address him. He kept on talking and I kept on listening….He talked about India….the British…he talked about India and Pakistan…..the Indo-Pak wars…the politicians of the two countries….the people of the two countries…..his experience in Dubai…languages like Arabic and Urdu….

Hum to ek hi kaum ke log hain…Janat se bhi khoobsurat hai Hindustan aur Pakistan….lekin kya karein….that was how he started his conversation….his hatred for the British and the politicians was evident….

Once he was out of the Indo-Pak issue, he talked about the beautiful Arabic language…the rich Arab world…. about his life in Dubai…his family in Pakistan.
Finally, we entered the Dubai downtown and he concentrated on his driving.

Almost one and half month after, as I sit down to pen down this experience, the wrinkled face of that old Pakistani driver is clearly visible. The three hour long drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai would have been lost in the memory lane as just another drive but for this Pakistani driver.

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