Inspired by a book's title, this is my version of Dhobitalao to Dubai. A tale of a girl who packed her bags and left her comfortable life behind to be part of a luxurious rat-race.
Mumbai, that's where I've spent 23 years of my life, along with family, close friends, and where I've experienced humility and warmth. Usually, those who've lived in Mumbai for any length of time cement their roots and vow to never leave. I, on the other hand, always assumed that leaving Mumbai might even be desirable. I was done with the plague of dirt, corruption and uncertainty. The low-paying job left me slacking on my travel plan, the unexciting routine, the horrible local train travel, the crowd and the insecurities of being a girl. All summed up to make the decision of moving much easier.
Dubai was not an impulsive choice. I went back and forth on multiple plans such as studying abroad, going on a student exchange programme or taking a break and travelling. Then, I walked alone into my future. What started off as a stroll, landed in a stride that was going to change the way I thought, change my course altogether. One standard belief that shaped my decision was that better money leads to a better lifestyle. Anywhere in the world. Period. But would it lead to a happier life?
I took the plunge and moved to Dubai a couple of months ago, with a concoction of excitement and anxiety that had a very strong taste of mystery. The land of sand is an example of a fabled future - It has the tallest building, biggest mall, largest aquarium, world's largest man-made island, and now, Dubai is working on replicating the wonders of the world, albeit larger in size. Breathe now.
"The truth is that holidaying in Dubai is quite a fancy deal, but working is a nightmare dressed in a day-dream."
It is a truly remarkable place, and evidently, I want to live, thrive and deteriorate at the core of it.
It was love at first sight in Dubai -- the cleanliness, calmness and safety, all made me fall head over heels for this place. Not only do I get an amazing lifestyle, but I also know that this struggle will reap rewards back home.
I'm often pelted with questions related to Dubai. My friends back home want to know how I'm faring, about the malls, the aquarium, the food. The truth is that holidaying in Dubai is quite a fancy deal, but working is a nightmare dressed in a day-dream. You have to travel, you have to put in hours, you have to deal with the politics and play safe. I am so caught up with existing here that the ornate veneer of Dubai ceases to amaze me anymore. I wake up, commute, work for nine hours and catch up with acquaintances, cook-eat-sleep-repeat.
If there is anything that's different, it's the longing to go home -- to parents, cousins, loved ones and friends. I miss mom and dad's never-ending mission to stuff me with food, the chai breaks and the happy-hour drinking sessions with my friends. But, ehh... Dubai has ways to distract you. Real life jetpacks are launching and they are now building the World Islands in the middle of the sea, so in a few years, I can just walk from Alaska to Australia and then write another piece on that. Impressive, right?
I know I completely sidetracked you with these stories, but there is still one lasting question. Does migrating away from home lead to a happier lifestyle? The answer is, I don't know and I'm comfortably sitting on the fence for this one. Maybe I need to give Dubai a real chance. Maybe I need to get out of my comfort zone and fondness for Mumbai or maybe I should just pack everyone I love and get them to Dubai too. To me, this sounds like a slice of paradise.