It was a roadblock, but thankfully the skies were still relatively ‘unclaimed’ and my plane from New Delhi flew to it’s relatively short destination of Dubai.
I have been around, various countries, but somehow Dubai had only been a transitory destination at best. I did not have the privilege to see the Sheikhs in white or the smooth roads cutting through the desert or hopefully supercars made with Swarovski crystals instead of plain jane paint. But more than that I was looking forward to getting the MultiStrada and seeing if I can fit in all my stuff, 35 odd days worth of it along with some heavy electronics to booth.
The workflow from my eyes, to the camera, through the digital darkroom, to the MissionRedPlanet website server in the US and through to your internet pipe, to your shiny screens and finally hitting your retinas does involve a bit of equipment. But of this, I hope to talk about in a separate blog entry.
Dubai immigration was one of the toughest that I had gone through. It was more of an army drill than I would have imagined. Eye scans et al. Thoug I did not have the chance to go through an xray full body scanner, or perhaps even if I did, how would I know!
After ticking off one wish off my bucket list (seeing lot of white clad men, who were not Sheikhs, apparently this imagery has been made synonym to them) I headed out, head held high into Dubai. There was no glittering supercar outside waiting for me though. Only a modest Keralite (Kerala is a state in southern India, a beautiful state at that!), Azeez, the driver was sent to take me to the Najd Hotel and Serviced Apartments near the Emirates Mall. This hotel was run by an old acquaintance and fellow motorcyclist from India – Rishi Mohan. For my Indian readers let me tell you that he was a member of the Frenzy Riders in Bangalore, GODS (Group of Delhi Superbikers) and a long time xBhp member as well. He had a R1 in India and his enthusiasm about all thing hyperfast, especially motorcycles was well known. When I say ‘was’, it means now he has shifted base to Dubai and the Middle East, and amongst other things manages this hotel. So if you are a petrolhead from India coming to Dubai drop him and email at email@example.com and expect a five star treatment (superbikes NOT included!). More on the hotel later.
The day was far from over. My first impressions of Dubai included expressions like – stunned, oh my god etcetera. Shiny tall building of all shapes and sizes, big and latest cars and the surreally tall building of Burj Khalifa (standing almost 1 KILOMETER over the sea level) made a ‘sci-fi’ impression on me. It was one of the most ‘modern’ metrol I had ever seen, after perhaps Shanghai, in which I tested the Diavel in 2010 at the APAC launch. I was impressed.
The heat was not so impressive. I stepped out of the air conditioned comforts of the hotel car and the heat blast hit me like a hyperactive teenager’s telephone bill. And it was ‘just’ 42 degrees today, the driver informed me.
The Najd Hotel was an apartment building converted into a hotel. Exactly how it is supposed to be. The staff was friendly, mostly Indians again. At the hotel lobby Sam, from Lenovo was waiting for me since a couple of hours, thanks to the hi-fi immigration procedures and a not so quick stop at the Emirates mall for a UAE SIIM card for my phone. I was profusely apologetic, and he was nice enough to let that go past him.
Sam then presented me with the Lenovo Thinkpad T520, loaded with 8Gigs of RAM and a battery which would give me close to 15 hours (! Or was it more), of backup. It was a slice battery or something like that, this machine deserves a special mention with all that ‘US military spec’ stuff in it for a roadtrip like this.
After taking the ‘machine’, we immediately headed out towards the Ducati Dubai showroom in Dubai Motorcity. Sam was again very nice and he dropped me to the showroom. As we approached Ducati Dubai, I could see a black MultiStrada prepped with the cases and looking all mean and ready to go under the hot Dubai sun. But not before I met Marcel and all the other Ducati Dubai team members (many of them who were Indians):
Then the Ducati goodies started rolling in, I got my Ducati Puma boots, the Ducati gloves and jacket and a fantastic Schuberth Ducati helmet. I also picked up a Diavel Scale model, a Ducati cap and few more Ducati stuff. Red is never enough.
The Ducati Dubai showroom itself was quite well stocked with apparels and bikes. There were 848s, superbikes, Diavels and MultiStradas. You name it they had it. There was even a lone Panigale Tricolore S standing there!
The service area also had a few bikes being services (and another Panigale undergoing the first oil change!). It looked pretty well prepared for fixing and maintaining Ducatis!
So after a LONG day I finally retired back to the hotel. But not before putting some stickers on the bike, and the Indian flag.