Category: Travels

Swiss Chronicles – Rhine Falls

I’m petrified of water. I find it beautiful from afar. I never learnt to swim owing to this fear. I’ve still though managed to visit sea-shores, waterfalls and even go on creek cruises. I had no idea though of MDH’s way of helping me to get over my fear was to take me on a trip to the Rhine Falls.


It was not enough to see it from afar, we took a boat ride across the Rhine river and then to the rock above. We then climbed up the steep rock and were in the middle of no-where! The water sounds hitting our ears, the moistness all over. Nature has so many wonders to offer – it never ceases to amaze us! This was only the beginning of the wonders we were to experience on our “long” trip in this magical land.

I could not help but think of our very own Bhandardara Falls in Nashik. Yeah, so maybe we don’t get to go right in the middle of the falls as we got to at the Rhine but the scenic beauty remains almost the same!

Some snaps and video of the amazing falls and the rock bang in the middle of no-where!

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Hear the water gush down the rocks as we take the boat ride towards the giant rock!

Previous posts in the series here:

  1. Zurich

Swiss Chronicles – Zurich

As the flight descended to this small town in Swiss land I could only see greenery around me – what a pleasant change from the barren Desertland that I live in.

The runaway of the small airport is surrounded by lush green fields. As the plane descended, I could see the lake, the waters running  by, the cows grazing lazily, the bicycles pacing down on the slopes, and then the plane landed on what was supposed to be an airport!

Zurich airport seems smaller than the Mumbai Domestic airport. Less plush but more clean. If the small cities in India were kept as clean we too would be calling them heaven on earth.

The landscapes are beautiful no doubt, but I don’t see much difference between these and our land. The comparison is natural – the only question that comes to mind is if only our people valued the nature we are blessed with and took care of it. That is the basic difference – people here value their land, their riches are their nature and they treasure it.

Zurich is a busy city by European standards at least – you see loads of people rushing around in trams, buses, trains etc. The main station Zurich HauptBahnhof is buzzing throughout the day.

The best part of this place was though seeing people have beer during the day – for heaven’s sake coffee and beer costs the same! I almost felt guilty sipping coffee when I could take a taste of beer and wine. What a heaven for my friends who love beer! I couldn’t help but remember V – who loves beer( as you would guess from his blog title). If I could, I’d gift him a lifetime Swiss visa!

The people are warm and friendly. Everyone can make out a confused tourist and go out of their way to help them. The SBB – the main railway operator, has its offices at all stations and the staff there help you plan your journey, explain the cheaper options and ensure you are not cheated of your money. Yes, some are confused but that is rare. People smile at you randomly, talk to you about your experience. One lady was so touched when MDH offered his seat to her that till she got down she kept showering her blessings! We would have almost got onto the wrong train without a valid ticket had a lady at the platform not gone out of her way to help us! Yes I did encounter a rude lady but then I’d give her the benefit of the doubt of having to deal with million tourists a day at the Rhine falls.

I’m a huge fan of public transport – have often confessed this on the blog. I still get a bigger kick by travelling in a public transport than driving my own car! I lived 25 years in Mumbai without ever missing owning a vehicle – I missed that in Dubai. Any place that does not have a good public transport makes you lazy. You tend to walk less, your brains work less, you lose sense of time, you lose your “me” time,you become dependent, you tend to read less and you tend to crib more!


We did not feel the need to hunt for a cab despite the luggage we carried. There is a station at every airport which connects to the main city stations. You just hop on and hop off with the day passes you buy. The platforms, trains, escalators and elevators are well built to suffice for all – people with luggage, handicapped people, children and even pets! This place does not treat animals any differently from humans. Most restaurants and hotels permit animals and separate food trays are laid out for them. No public transport restricts people from boarding their animals onto it! Talk about equality – a lesson we all must learn.

There is not much to see in Zurich – the St. Peter’s Church, the lake Zurich, Uteliberg top of Zurich, the old town and the famous Bahnofstrasse. Our hotel was about 10 minutes from the central station with a tram line 2 minutes walk away which made it easier for us to move around the city. Bahnhofstrasse is buzzing until 7.30 and then it goes all quiet! All shops and restaurants shut down at 8.00!!! We were lucky to find a McDonald’s open!


The ride along Lake Zurich was mesmerising and made me envious of all the people who have their houses along the lake. The ride lasts one hour and takes you all over the town. I’m sharing some snaps with you all.

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Look at the last picture – sigh don’t you wish someday you could live in house like that surrounded by nature!

Dubai Tour – A Quick Guide

A friend from MBA days is soon to visit the Land of Sheikhs . I will be meeting him after 5 whole years and looking forward to catch up after such a long time. He requested that I put up a quick guide on what to do when one lands in Dubai.

The ideal time to visit this place is Nov-Mar. The weather is beautiful and gets even more wonderful in Dec and Jan. It’s also the time when the festivities begin – the Dubai Shopping Festival in Jan, Food Festival and Dubai International Film Festival. Hopefully the current debt crisis will not drive the tourists away! Here goes a quick guide:
Must Visit:
  • Dubai Desert Safari – The sand dune bashing followed by Arabian camp with sheesha, camel ride, kebabs and biryani, arabic coffee, photo sessions in local dress , henna and finally belly dancing! This is a must on every Dubai tourist’s to-do list. The weather is perfect. My experience 4 years ago here
  • The Dubai Creek Cruise – For the more reasonable option take the Dhow cruises which serve Arabic meals while for the more lavish one the Bateaux Dubai is a must. The cruise takes you along the Dubai creek for about 2 hours at night and you get to see the city by night – it’s beautiful.
  • Dubai Museum: It is not a match for museums around the world but when one visits a new place one must visit a museum to learn about the place. The museum features a nice video on the growth of Dubai from a mere oyster trading place to the vast cement jungle that it is today.
  • Jumeirah Road Drive – Drive along the Jumeirah road at night and enjoy the most up-market area in Dubai – the villas, the cafes, the restaurants, the beach park, the lovely mosques & Burj Al Arab.
  • Brunch/Lunch at Burj-Al-Arab – The world’s only 7-star restaurant built in the sea. It is Dubai’s pride and the most famous landmark. If you are ready to dent your pocket, you must try the brunch/lunch at the 27th floor Al Muntaha Restaurant. The view and the menu is one hell of an experience.
  • Madinat Souq : Visit this traditional Souq at the Madinat Jumeirah right beside Burj Al Arab. You may pick up a few souvenirs from the Al Jaber Gallery. The rest of shops are too expensive. The place though has kept its old traditional look and is a famous tourist site.
  • Dolphinarium at Dubai Creek: The Friday morning shows come real cheap at AED 30/-. The dolphins and seals are a delight to watch and is total paisa vasool.
  • Discovery Centre and Aquarium@ Dubai Mall: Various species of the water world have been kept in the best possible environment. You will be amazed at seeing the size of some crabs and fishes there!
  • Lake Fountain at Dubai Mall: Fountains that rise up to 150 mts with the 170+ storied Burj Dubai on one side and the palatial The Address on the other. The musical show is free and lasts for about 10 minutes replayed every 20 mins once the sun sets. It’s not to be missed.
  • My favourite malls – worth shopping and different from the rest – Dubai Festival City (Take a walk along the waterfront and a free ride in the small Abra there) and Ibn Batuta ( The different displays of different countries are very well done)
  • Night walks at Dubai Marina and The Walk @ JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence) – Lots of restaurants/cafes around both places and excellent places to take a night stroll after dinner or head for a dessert. The Walk at JBR also has an adjoining beach.
  • The Haridwar of Dubai. This is a place in Dubai Green Community, very far away from the city but if you have friends here, great place to go for a quiet dinner and walk by the lakeside. An amphitheatre in between which ends in a lake, and on the opposite is the Courtyard hotel from Marriott. Restaurant shut at 10.00 p.m. so grab an early dinner here!
Must Ride:
  • Abra – the open one and the AC one. The open one is cheap and looks scary. It’s Dubai’s waterbus that ferries people across the Dubai creek from Dubai to Deira and back for as cheap as AED 1/-. It’s fun experience. The AC one costs AED 4/- and is more sophisticated. Try both:-)
  • Dubai Metro: Though only ten stations operational this is a must ride for all. Those who come in from Mumbai will appreciate it a lot more. The stations are suave, the trains tiny and the ride is pleasant. It runs parallel to Dubai’s best highway – The Sheikh Zayed Road and offers a great view. There are stations at the 3 famous malls of Dubai – Deira City Centre, Mall of Emirates and Burjuman. So hop in and shop and enjoy this joy ride.
Must Try The Arabic Specialities:
  • Shawarma ( This is a chicken sandwich) @Roadside cafeterias
  • Arabic – Hamoos, khaboos, Fatoosh & Falafel @ any Arabic joint
  • Iranian Kebabs
  • Lebanese Food (Karam or Arz Lebanon Joints)
  • Fish Basket @ Sharjah ( King Faisal Road)
Must Eat @:
Non-Veg ( Decent for veg also)
Indian/Pakistani Cuisines
1) The Kebab Factory – Burj Old Town
2) Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana – Near American Hospital ( Oud Mehta)
3) Eric’s – In Karama, a small restaurant for excellent Goan food.
4) Gazebo – Mankhool, Sharjah, DIC
5) Ceasars – Mankhool, (Multiple cuisines: Indian, Chinese, Continental)
6) Al Quaser – Small restaurant for excellent Kebabs at Al Diyafah Street (Khau Galli – Food Street of Dubai) in Satwa
7) BBQ Delights – Afghani/Pakistani Cuisine at JBR/OudMehta
8) Manwar – Rajasthani Food. Also serves some excellent Pithla–Bhakar(Staple Maharashtrian Diet)
1) Thai Food: Pad Thai@ Al Qasr & Thai Chi@ Wafi City
2) TGIF and Chilli’s (The molten lava is a must)
3) Portuguese: Nando’s Chicken @ Sheikh Zayed Rd/Greens
4) Chinese: Chinese Village (Sea View Hotel), Nanking & Wok Inn @ Karama
5) Sea Food Market @ Le Meridian near the airport
6) NINA’s @ One and Only One Royal Mirage for a mix of Indian and Arabic cuisines
7) California’s COCO’s @ Sheikh Zayed Road/JBR/Deira City Centre
8) Italian Brunch and Spanish Omelette @ PQ-JBR
9) Dome at DIFC/Burjuman
10) Noodle House – Thai and Chinese
11) Japengo – Japanese Cuisine
Pure Vegetarian Joints
1) Sukhsagar @ Karama/JBR
2) Govinda’s @ Karama
3) SaiDham @ Oud Mehta near Lamcy Plaza
4) South Indian Restaurants – Sangeetha/Sarvana Bhavan/Venus
5) Rajdhani @ Bur Dubai
6) Kamat’s @ Mankhool
And Finally Must Shop
  • Stolls/Shawls/Pashminas @ the textile market near Bur Dubai Creek. You can get some awesome bargains with some coming in as cheap as AED 8-10.
  • Gold @ Meena Bazaar or Deira Gold Souq
  • Spices @ Iranian shops near the Deira Spice Market
  • Antiques and Dubai souvenirs @ Al Jaber Gallery in Madinat Jumeirah/Mall of Emirates
  • Candle Stands/Tea light holders @ IKEA, Lifestyle stores and Home Centre
  • Electronic items at the hypermarkets like Carrefour/ Hyper Panda/ Sharaf DG which give some good offers and are way too cheap compared to India.
If you plan to stay longer or love outdoors go for some long drives to the nearby emirates.
1) Korfakkan Beach via Dibba
2) Al Ain Zoo and Jebel Hafeet
3) Hatta – Explore the off-roads in the wadis. Ensure you have a SUV/4WD
4) RAK hot springs
5) Umm-Al-Quwain – Barracuda Beach
6) Fujairah
7) Bab-Al-Shams Resort on the outskirts of Dubai

Phew! Quite an exhaustive list and if you need more details you know whom to contact;-) So enjoy your trip to Dubai and do visit this Sheikh land once – it’s not a bad place and I’m pretty amazed with all that has been developed from what was once a barren desert!

How Dubai ensures I Don’t Miss My Mumbai

I haven’t blogged much about my expat life in Dubai. I never wanted to live abroad; I still don’t, but here I’m spending my 4th year in Dubai. I don’t know how long MDH and I plan to be here. I don’t want to decide, things never work out when I decide, so I’ve learnt my lesson and now I take everything in my stride.

This place has slowly and steadily grown on me. I still have my cribs and complaints, but it’s a nice place to live in. Here are some of the ways in which this place ensures I don’t miss my Mumbai as much. (I cannot stop missing Mumbai. How can you? When you have spent a quarter of your life in Mumbai!)

Family and Friends

This place has helped me meet a vast array of people with completely different personalities but who gel with each other exceptionally well. MDH and I have been fortunate to have had such lovely people around us right from the time we stepped in. They say it’s tough to make friends at work, but my best friends in Dubai come from my workplace and so do MDH’s. I’ve known them for only 3 years but it feels like they’ve known me for a lifetime.

MDH’s cousin lives a building away from our old place and has been with us since my first day in Dubai. Her two little adorable brats (About the elder one read here) ensure that we have our hands full. Add to this extended family, are my bhauji’s (brother-in-laws) close friends who are now our own family.

And the best of all are my neighbours P & A from my old place. In Dubai people rarely get to know who lives on their floor, I was fortunate to have met them on the second day I moved in and we hit it off. Their little angel has kept MDH and me busy in the evenings for the last 3 years!

On all occasions to be spent with my family I always have these wonderful set of people to turn to. I do miss my family back home but they all help me miss them less.


MDH is from Goa and therefore is an absolute seafood freak, loves non-veg and in general food. I’ve developed my food fetish from him! His profession has helped us experiment at the best places that Dubai has to offer. I’ve been to most 5 star restaurants and tasted out all cuisines – Arabian, Iranian, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese. From a meal costing AED 30 for 2 to a meal costing AED 300 for 2, we have tried out all! Each one with its own speciality, own taste and wanting us to go back again and again. I will put up a food post on this blog – our friends and colleagues always consult us if they need to try out a new place. I’m often called “Time-Out Dubai” at my workplace cause I keep introducing new restaurants to them. They tell me, when it comes to food MDH and you know the best! Yeah we do;-)

The Roads

Dubai has excellent roads. The internal city roads are wide and well divided with atleast 3 lanes on either side. The highways have atleast 5 lanes on either side. The directions are excellent. You will rarely get lost. I’ve driven alone, got lost and found my way back by just following the direction boards on the road. In parts of the city there is chaotic traffic , but that is minimal if I compare it to the entire structure. In short I absolutely love driving around this place

Our Car

In Dubai, cars are a must if you need to get yourself around .It does not have a robust public transport system. They are also the most affordable and hence the spate of luxury cars in this part of the world. I’ve seen every damn luxury car on the streets here. I drive a SUV – A Nissan Murano. It is not a car I would’ve driven in Mumbai even if I could afford it sometime in life. It’s a fuel guzzler and one cannot enjoy a ride in SUV on Mumbai’s teeny weeny roads! Fuel comes cheap, really cheap at AED 6.25 per gallon; so one more reason to own a car here.

Grocery Shops & Supermarkets

Grocery shops function here from morning 6.00 a.m to 12.00 in the night. Some are even open till 2.00 a.m. in the morning and some supermarkets are open 24X7. I know the perils but from a pure consumer perspective it is a bliss. I’m never worried if I run out of the bare necessities at home at odd hours.

The Distance to Mumbai

Total travel time 2hrs 45 mins, including the time difference around 4 hrs. If I want, I can visit Mumbai on a weekend.

Household Help

I’ve a cleaner and a cook who come in daily to do the chores. Not many of my friends boast of that luxury once they leave India. I don’t pay a heavy price for these services unlike other places outside India.

Cleanliness & Greenery

Most of this city is cleaned daily – the roads, the buildings, the parks. The plants are watered daily, and the gardens maintained beautifully.

There not many parks but the few they have, are huge and well maintained. This place is a desert but the city officials have managed to maintain green pockets as much as they can. We even have our own ‘Haridwar’ here! It’s not London or Europe but I admire the fact that such greenery is maintained in this barren desert land


Any service related to the government here, be it getting your visa done, id card done, e-gate card, telephone, electricity, internet, television is relatively easy. If they tell you it will take 2 hrs, it more often than not takes exactly 2 hrs, if they tell you they will do it in 3 days, they will definitely do it in 3 days and if they tell you they do not know how long, well they really do not know how long! They are honest about it.

Dubai RTA

They manage the roads and transport of this place and they do a swell job. The systems are in place and you cannot evade the law. If your car registration has expired you will not get a parking card, if you have not paid your fines, you cannot have your car registered. In short, Dubai does not believe in the law chasing individuals but the individuals having to chase the law. If there is an accident, the process is simple, both cars come to a side, wait for the police to arrive. The police a.k.a the ‘Shorta’ here will inspect. The one who is at fault will get a pink slip, the other a green. The one with the green slip submits it to his insurance company who recover the money from the insurance company of the one with pink slip. No fights, no abuses, no traffic halts – all the chaos that we see in Mumbai if there is an accident. The fines are clearly defined and there is no escape without paying if you get one.

If major constructions are happening around, the diversions and the direction boards are up the very moment so that no inconvenience is caused.

We as humans will still complain but if I look at the bigger picture, the RTA does a super job. They are constantly striving to upgrade the place


Dubai has always been known for its shopping and it is indeed a bliss to shop here! Things are affordable and not that expensive. The Sales in summer and during the shopping festival are a huge hit and you get some awesome bargains. Apart from my traditional wear (clothes and footwear both) I’ve stopped shopping back home cause you get better stuff at the same price here

Dubai Metro

Finally the one reason that will bring this place more closer to my hometown Mumbai . The one thing this place was missing which I so dearly love about Mumbai and my next favourite London city. Yes the trains.

Dubai is getting its own Metro service which will commence this 9Sep. On 09/09/09 at 9 a.m. the Metro will have a grand opening. I saw a test run bang in front of my house and was dead excited. I’ll finally get to travel by train to work and back. I only live 2 stations away and both stations are bang in front of my home and office! It will be a fully automated driverless service and hopefully people here in Dubai will appreciate the importance of public transport.

The Brat Pack

2 Adorable nephews, 2 lovable dolls and 1 little angel. These 5 have ensured that I’m fully trained and equipped to handle one of my own! I was never a children’s person, that is MDH, he is fantastic with the kids and these 5 dote on him and so does he on them. They have helped me to handle kids and have fun with them by being like them.

I was always the youngest in my family and hence my nieces/nephews are not that younger to me – so I’ve been more of a sis than aunt. These 5 have taught me what being an aunt is all about! What it is to be a grown-up but yet be a kid when you are with the kids!

God bless them!

I’m not comparing Mumbai and Dubai; where ever I live, Mumbai will always be home, the place where my heart belongs to. I’m slowly beginning to accept Dubai as my second home. It has given me pain but it has also brought me much joy.

More posts on this lovely place will follow.

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