I had just barely revelled in the glory of my last article on Munich when my husband came home one day from work and broke the news.
We were moving to Abu Dhabi in three months!
It feels like since that day someone pressed the fast-forward button and life has been sweeping me along from one blurry, action-packed month to another. Time seems to have picked up its pace and one day when I woke up, it was December already.
After a whirlwind, month-long trip to India that now feels like a blur, we were on a plane to Abu Dhabi four days after we landed in Munich. It feels like just yesterday that we went through this entire ordeal of house-hunting, visa paperwork, neighbourhood recces and so on. And here we were, two years later, doing it again. I felt as I was stepping out of a time capsule that brought me two years ahead in two seconds.
It feels like just yesterday that we went through this entire ordeal of house-hunting, visa paperwork, neighbourhood recces...
There is, of course, the thrill and excitement of starting the next chapter in a new country, though my bag of emotions is a mixed bundle with the sadness of leaving a beautiful German city steeped in history, culture, tradition and warmth. And a house that we had made a home.
Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven members of the Emirates and its capital sits like the crown jewel on the head of its smaller counterparts, presiding over their economy, industry, wealth and politics. It is the second largest in population, just a step behind its more popular and densely inhabited cousin Dubai.
In the city for a 10-day trip, as my husband spent his time in the office, diving headfirst into his work, I decided to dive into orienting myself and unravelling the wonders of all things Abu Dhabi. As I write this piece in my room in the Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island that sits nestled daintily atop a part of the Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit (it hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix each November), I can hear the race cars being taken for a spin on the tracks that encircle a large part of the island. From the F1 circuit to Ferrari World to the many shopping malls, diverse culinary options and some desert dune bashing thrills, the Emiratis won't ever leave you with a dull moment.
Much like Munich in terms of diversity and yet very different, the city offers tons of attractions for people from all walks of life. With warm to very pleasant weather through the year in the UAE, we will be jumping to the other end of the spectrum from the sub-zero winter months of Europe. One of the things that greatly appealed to me about Munich was its many open and green spaces, and Abu Dhabi promises a similar charm with the many parks and garden it also houses. With opulently decorated architectural delights combining styles from Turkey, Morocco, India, China and many parts of the Western world, the city houses such beacons as The Sheikh Zayed Mosque. I find it particularly hard to peel my eyes away from the elements inspired by Arabic heritage, like the domes and arches (on even residential buildings) that break the monotony of the contemporary structures and skyscrapers that adorn parts of the city.
Starting the new year in a new country means a year of new friendships, relationships, experiences and challenges alike.
Still in limbo about the final date of our bag-and-baggage move, we are in the process of making trips to and fro to deal with all the line items that constitute moving to another country and everything that it entails. Being beach bums ourselves, the idea of living in the midst of water, desert, palm trees and also a contrasting metropolitan culture rolled into one certainly agrees with us. From the ladies in their abayas to the men pushing prams down the street, the cab drivers from back home (or as most would say "India, Pakistan ek hi baat") to the widely diverse expatriate community spread out all through the various islands that make up Abu Dhabi, the next two years seem like a promising new chapter in our lives.
The year 2015 has flown by and 2016 is upon us. Starting the new year in a new country means a year of new friendships, relationships, experiences and challenges alike. I am sure many of you know exactly what I mean. It also means bidding farewell to old friends in Germany, though thanks to technology today and the rapidly shrinking degrees of separation, it's never a final goodbye. As I brace myself to seize this new bull by the horn and steer it towards new beginnings, I wish you all the happiest New Year!
Also see on HuffPost: