Lacking any other milestone, I decided to use the Coldplay concert in Abu Dhabi as the date to go to Dubai. Part of a larger plan, the month (?) long Dubai visit is meant to be another one of those Phinal Phreakouts, this time to celebrate Navin quitting his job. Tickets were available, so one was bought for me, and Navin and I reached Dubai on the morning of March 28th from Coimbatore (How, why Coimbatore is another story. This time, I am not even promising that it will be related. Depends)
After a nice nap in the afternoon to get over the overnight flight, Navin, Stellios and I made the long drive to Abu Dhabi in Navin’s new BMW 5 series (yeah, the fruits of a capitalistic society can be nice sometimes). We were supposed to meet Noura at the Hotel Shangri-La, and Navin had directions to the place.
Very bad directions, it turned out. We spend about an hour and a half trying to find the place. It was supposed to be between two bridges, as we were repeatedly told by many people. Quite a description. What we did not realize was that it was in Between Two Bridges. It is actually the name of a locality there. Somehow we managed to get there, in time for lunch (dinner ?)
Had amazing Lebanese food at the Abdul Wahab, accompanied by two bottles of crisp white Lebanese wine (never had hummus/meat this good). It was time to go to the Emirates Palace. This turned out to be another 25 Kms, and there were scattered showers (yeah yeah, i have been watching a lot of weather channel reports) on the way. Speculation was rife on whether the concert would be indoors or outdoors. The rain ended when we reached the parking, and we made a note of the specific location of the car by triangulating with three buildings. Three engineers together can think of such things.
Three bands were tied to the wrists before we were able to get our first drinks. Entry, Age Verification, and Earth Day. For probably the first time in my life I was early for a concert. No opening band, but there was nice music playing in the entry area. Stood in line for drinks, and Noura managed to charm an unsuspecting philipino bartender into pouring amazing amounts of alcohol. In keeping with my new low alcohol policy, I decided to stick to beer.
There was a cornucopia of amazing looking women, mostly westerners, reflecting the population of Dubai. Stellios and I made the most of it, letching to our hearts content. Navin also probably did the same, but I am sure he believes in culpable deniability. There was still some thunder and lightening going on. And by the way, we found that the concert was supposed to be out in the open. At least the audience was. Another round of drinks was purchased, and the bartender showed appreciation for the previous tip by pouring us Half and Half. Half vodka and half red bull. And he stopped only because we told him to. Lethal drinks, all of them. Me, another beer.
As we moved to the arena, the rain was looking more and more imminent. Some people (obviously Germans, always prepared) had come equipped with plastic raincoats. And trash bags masquerading as raincoats. The four of us were just happy. And uncaring.
The concert started, with spectacular lightning streaks happening in the background. I am not a big fan, but they do have some wonderful songs. “Yellow” and “Clocks” were the two I liked most. But then, even for the ones I did not know, the tightness of the set just made it incredible. The lightning just added to the ambience. At this point, I was on just my second beer, but I was feeling this incredible energy from the crowd, I could not have cared less. And then the rain started.
There have been times in my life when I have felt liberated in the true sense. When you have no worries, no fears, no inhibitions, nothing weighing you down mentally. One was at my first Burning Man, when I threw off all my clothes and ran after the water truck. Same feeling here. No, here I did not get naked physically, but mentally I was. All the defenses were down. I was connecting with the world. I was one with the crowd. I raised my hands in the air, looked to the sky and shouted out loud with joy.
I guess the rain just released a lot of locked up love! In the whole crowd ! And I was just tripping on it. Even poured down my second beer (i know i know .. alcohol abuse .. but I promise I will make up for it) because I knew that it was useless at that point. It was just an incredible incredible experience. I could see similar joy in the faces of people around me. I just hugged N, N and S, and just surfed the wave.
The lasers were lighting up the raindrops like little fireflies in the sky, in technicolor. The band was also into it, and did a unplanned “Singing In The Rain”.
The second magical moment came just after halftime, when the rain had ended. We were in the standing section, quite away from the stage, basically following the band on the video screens. I had been watching some people bustling about on a small elevated platform 10 feet from us. And told Navin that it seemed like an alternative setup for the band to play. True enough, they vanished from the main stage, and appeared right before us. Close enough to touch. Very very cool, entirely unexpected. Asked everyone to switch on the cell phone lights, and turned off all the arena lights. They were right in front of us, in the dark, singing against a background of lighted screens. Even did a cover of “I’m A Believer”.
I am not a big one for her worship of bands, but it was so easy to get caught up in the crowd’s high, and feed on it.
We came out of the main crowd in a while, and danced in an open area. Me holding Noura’s wet shawl, drying it out in the wind. Had some parting drinks, and then proceeded to wait 2 hours in the parking lot, waiting for the traffic to clear up :-)
Don’t know what it is (the regular meditation maybe ?), but have been feeling at ease with myself lately. Maybe this was one of the things that my mamaji refers to as “Nature Support”, a reward and encouragement !
Coming up very soon : The first day in Sana’a, and realizations after chewing some Kat !