x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Desi Girl: Off the grid for a whole weekend

A gallop through the emirates brings good food, good company and good times.

This past weekend I partook in the kind of multi-emirate gallop that makes one lament weekends spent vegetating on the couch.

After picking up a very wobbly rental car from Karama, a bunch of us drove from Dubai to Sharjah, stopping for a dum biryani at that place known for its dum biryanis, before heading off to Ras Al Khaimah where we spent a good part of our early evening strolling along the corniche in search of a good chai.

Food had a lot to do with how the weekend unfolded, obviously. We were a big bunch of desis and eating is what we do best - as was discovered by the solitary Greek in our group that day.

We threw him right into the deep end with our heated argument over which biryani to order and on what level of the spicy scale. When our well-contemplated order arrived and the waiter folded back the piping hot bread covering the biryani, it released a spiral of steam that turned us into a quivering mass of gratitude. We thanked God for making us desi, and for making biryani our birthright.

We checked into the Mangrove Hotel Ras Al Khaimah, deposited our bags and made a beeline for the Manhattan Café and Coffee Shop at the end of the road. We had spied it on our drive in and the torn, tatty outdoor seating and trees festooned with light just called out to us. Later that night, there was a hilariously violent game of Taboo, and some serious 2am cravings of masala dosa.

Apart from various escapades revolving around food, the other thing that punctuated the weekend for me was the absolute lack of virtual contact.

With my mobile phone safely in a bag somewhere for most of the trip (a combination of my lack of pockets and my innate ability to misplace my mobile phone if it is not in a pocket), I, for the first time since signing up for the dastardly BBM service, did not update my status for one whole weekend. All throughout, it read a very vague "Weekend ahoy!", which is what I had set it to on Thursday morning.

Saturday brought its own share of mirthful mishaps en route to the Dreamland Aquapark in Umm Al Quwain, starting with a fruitless drive around a ghost town looking for a place to eat and culminating in reaching the park only to realise we had forgotten our tickets at the hotel! Not that that stopped us from a day of whizzing down slides and bobbing in the water.

For the grand finale, I upended myself in the wave pool (one of the attractions labelled as "mild") and managed to bang my head on the bottom of the pool, scrape my knees and ankles and disorient myself all in less than five seconds. A truly bizarre moment which started out with me whooping in delight at the stomach-churning somersault, followed by hysterics as I realised I've got a bump on my head the size of Nebraska. I'm calling it the souvenir no one else got to bring back home.

All's well that ends well? Definitely. But I do have an appointment with the neurologist, just in case.