Tuesday May 03, 2022

When bliss clothes us all

When bliss clothes us all

The sultry weather has failed to slow down the enthusiasm of the Eid revellers.

We are in Sharjah. It is celebrating Eid Al Fitr and the ways are arresting for the fun-loving and the romantic. There is activity and there is joy. The sultry weather has failed to slow down the enthusiasm of the Eid revellers. From Abu Dhabi to Dubai to Sharjah to Ajman to Fujairah to Ras Al Khaimah to Umm Al Qaiwain the mood is one of fun and colour. Let’s shift to a Sharjah hotspot. The lake, the fountain, the music, the cups of coffee, the ice-cream cups, the Mexican cuts, the Italian offerings take our breath away. We are at the Al Majaz Waterfront. We wish we were all twenty and we could say we want more. The garden, the manicured walks and the landscaping are being fully exploited by revellers in the shape of hyperactive children, bright boys, smart girls, sober men and pleasant looking women. The festival means good times for the underprivileged because it means a lot by way of charity and food. There are feasts almost in every house, which is preceded by the distribution of sweets. Not everyone can eat good food everyday. The festival of Eid kind of answers that paucity at least for some days of the year.

Says Rubaiyat Haider of India, “I have lived in Geneva, I have lived in London, but what makes Sharjah, Dubai and other Emirates special is the safety factor. In those places it is gorgeous but the safety factor is a big worry.”

Haider, who has just finished his snack, has lived in Sharjah’s Beach Road area for more than 15 years and he loves it. “The beach here is a major attraction,” the Indian stresses. About the place, permit me to recall what a teenager had told me years ago, almost with arrogance, “My whole family lives on the beach.”

I asked a little schoolboy why are you carrying so many packets? He replied, “It is Eid. That’s why.”

However, Eid for Jafri Malik is unique. “I am going to the sea, then lunch and then play cards with friends. For me it is a long, a long weekend,” said the guy from Europe.

The general environment in the beach area is one of streamlined bonhomie. It is not in the air. It is in the almost filmy homes. There are no overflowing eateries, garish festoons and mobile-phone conversations being bombarded on you by bystanders as you move around. But in the area around the beach and parts of Ajman business doesn’t stop, but actually that helps consumers, who don’t mind shopping through the day and the evening. Literally, it is a sea change in an area of Ajman. It is simply a mad, mad rush for fun spots. In a typically sub-continental style it is food, food and food. And of course most of them are wearing white and embroidered skullcaps.

Women can be seen in very colourful and expensive shalwar kameez (tunic and pyjamas), unusually high heels and of course sunglasses. The crowd here is really cosmopolitan — everybody is celebrating Eid. The scene changes as we drive over to Dubai. The teenagers are busy showing off by speedily driving past strollers and knots of girls in Qusais.  The little ones in these areas and elsewhere can be seen carrying candies and balloons and stuffed toys. The restaurants are packed with customers. The shops have been very well lit up and decorated to match the mood.

The mood is entirely in variation as we move to Bur Dubai. We can feel the festival. A lot of the Eid spirit can be relished. The mind has been let loose and the result is great —mirth, laughs, jokes. A fair number of the people moving around are from India. Men in shorts and women in jeans are out to make most of the occasion.

We reach Jumeirah. The crowd is definitely different and excitedly so. What is catching my attention more than the cute fatties is that phones are being used left, right and centre for taking pictures. And each one of them trying to live out what they see on silver screens. Of course it is the Jumeirah beach.

The image here is that of girls letting their top knots loose into unwieldy strands or undoing their coils and boys trying their best to gel up their strands and kids being forced to stand still. The overall impression is of mobile chats and mums pushing prams. But one can’t ignore the relentlessly gurgling waves.

However, the scenario undergoes a pleasant change as we shift location. Picnickers in Al Mamzar — nationalities, don’t try to fathom how many — are actually having an Eid ball. It is meat from one end to another and a huge and free advertisement for Pepsi and Coke because we can’t see a group that doesn’t have a bottle added to its menu.

The middle-aged, like all over the world, are the same. They have carried folding chairs even to a picnic place.

Not many kilometres away is Qanat Al Qasba. Its Parisian look, its boat rides, assortment of eateries and the amusement areas is adding a special zing to holidaymakers and the Eid feeling.

It is absolutely fabulous in the evening and indeed has many things to offer to a family looking for quality time during festivals.

Let’s drive ahead towards what is described by many as Sharjah’s heart — Rolla. We are here and surrounded by teeming humanity represented by people of many shades.  But the overriding noise is the line “can you hear me…Eid Mubarak...” coming from almost every direction from expats trying to get in touch with their folks back in their countries. I have never seen so many people on their phones in the same evening. You can see Pashtun drivers eating, like always; talkative Indians exchanging pleasantries; Bangladeshis chatting away to God’s glory in an area, which can be safely called the Bangladesh of Rolla. Most of them are in “lungis” or loin cloths. Whether praying or not they are all in very colourful caps. But the most crowded place in the area is the fish market. We entered it a while ago but ran out because we couldn’t take in the noise, the yelling, the smell, the push and the glare of expectant sellers. In Rolla, one can see shokeepers selling “jalebis or deep fried syrupy rings made of flour,” loved across the subcontinent but invented by Turkey. And, of course, with Indians and Pakistanis around you can’t avoid the pleasant smell of dosas and pakoras.


Rlixa team

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