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Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

Travel log

Travel long enough and you will someday hit an incredibly lucky day or an incredibly interesting one. And every now and then you will get one that is a bit of both.

So yesterday’s trip to Dubai started off interestingly enough! I reached the airport late and while I was fretting if Emirates would let me board, Emirates upgraded me to business class (mark one for luck). Which itself was nice but nicer still when I walked into Atif Bukhari the President of UBL and Mahmood (the CIO at Barclays) at the security check in (mark two for luck) and pitched Atif on Sama’s work which I was carrying on my shoulder.

On the aircraft when I tried to change my SIM to my Etisalat number, I realized that I had left my collection of SIMs at the office back in Karachi. That sort of posed a problem because I had a meeting immediately after landing at Dubai but no way of contacting Nasr and coordinating the meeting point. But no issues, I figured I would just send Nasr an email from the airport and let him know that we could meet outside the Borders at City Center.

While waiting for the luggage to arrive at the now dedicated Gold, Business and First class passenger carousal I hooked into the free wifi at Dubai airport and sent an invitation off to three of my students to feed me dinner on Monday night. All three accepted within a few minutes of the email going out (mark three for luck) but I waited and waited for my one piece to arrive from Karachi. When the baggage tags finally turned from EK 607 to EK 507 it hit me that maybe my piece was doing the rounds on the economy class baggage pick up section. A short walk to carousal 13 and presto, my carry on roller was on my luggage trolley.

Since I am a reasonably smart and sophisticated traveler it took me no time to opt for a 30 dirham payphone card versus the 75 Dirham new Wasal SIM. How many calls was I going to make in the next 36 hours in Dubai and the 45 Dirham saved could certainly be put to much better use. I called Mama to let him know that I had arrived, then called Nasr and then called Aamir. Once again luck intervened and I found out about the dinner plans for the evening in Diera but couldn’t get through to Nasr. I decided that it was possibly better for me to just head to City Center and call Nasr again once I land near his office, courtesy Dubai’s sparklingly brand new Metro. Being the smart and sophisticated traveler I am, I left my hardly used 30 Dirham payphone card in the phone at the airport and headed out to the Metro station.

Once again when we started moving my fogged up brain realized what I had done. First I waited at Borders then went looking for phone cards then decided that the smartest move would be to grab a cab, drop my luggage at Aamir and then call Nasr from his phone. We finally connected and off I went to give the Metro another spin. Which is where the ticket machine ate my 50 dirham note. Note to weary travelers the Metro ticket vending machines only accept 5, 10 & 20 dirham notes, don’t tempt them with anything heaver than that. They will simply eat them up.

As I said it was an interesting day. A late arrival that should have led to me missing my flight but instead I get upgraded, left my SIMS at the office but then I bought a phone card that I also forgot at the airport. Two free dinner invitations as soon as I landed but total confusion on my post airport appointment and the Metro eating my 50 dirham note for a 2.5 dirham fare at 7 pm to really cap my day.

But even interesting days have good endings. When I reported the fact, a supervisor simply walked to the vending machine, logged in, typed in a code and my 50 dirham note was immediately returned. And when Nasr and I finally met at Café Columbus, we finalized our strategy for tomorrow meeting and also locked up two more sales call for Monday afternoon and evening. And we wrapped the day with some unbelievable food at Aamir and Nimita home with Mama, Mami, Sheeru and Akif.


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