I wake up to the sun filtering through my curtains and slowly my room awakens to a new day. My eighteenth floor bedroom opens out into a long balcony with a sprawling view of the Dubai creek on the left, and spans to the Burj Khalifa and then the Burj Al Arab. If I crane my neck to the extreme right, I can see the Arabian Sea.
Before I moved here, I lived in an apartment that stared right through some towels and clothes hanging on the balcony of bachelors. Ours was a 2-bedroom apartment, one that you could walk across in a few seconds. It was a cosy home that I had come to love over the seven years I spent on the seventh floor. And prior to that we lived in a small one-bedroom apartment that we rented when we first arrived in 2003.
In Mumbai we lived in a large flat. A joint family of two brothers and a set of parents. I had a big bedroom to myself, a living room, two more bedrooms and a kitchen. When we moved to Dubai our house was tiny in comparison, but I came to freedom and a house I could call my very own.
Having lived the first 10 years of my marriage under the constant vigil of my mother-in-law, Dubai was like rediscovering my freedom all over again. I was back in a carefree environment. I could cook what I wanted, wear what pleased me and could go wherever and whenever I wanted without having to explain or make an excuse.
When we were in Mumbai, I saw more of my husband’s family than him as his work took him away for most of the waking hours. In Dubai, I had him to myself and since he had set up an office just 5 minutes away, he came home for lunch and got to spend time with my daughter who had started to grow up rather rapidly.
We bought a car and I took driving lessons and soon started to drive on my own. Since his office was close-by and most of his work took him abroad, I had the car to myself and had the pleasure of discovering new places in Dubai. I would buckle up my three-year old daughter in the rear of our car and stroll out whenever I felt like. I loved the Honda-CRV.
Freedom smells so fresh. It’s a fragrance that was bottled after marriage forever in some small corner of my heart.
A joint-family imposes many responsibilities and people to answer. Your movements are restricted and your options are limited trying to cater to a common good.
Dubai was a festival every day. I rediscovered my zing to sing and on most of the days music blared across my house. I could sing at the top of my voice without disturbing anyone. My husband who I always thought a little conservative had no qualms about this new way of life. He too seemed to enjoy the freedom from the yoke of responsibilities and social engagements that bogged him down in Mumbai.
When I think of how life would have been had I not moved, a silent shudder runs down my spine. I go back to Mumbai each year and spend time in the monsoon. I have a house of my own in Mumbai too, but Dubai, still is my home. This is where I feel my marriage was realized.
When we moved from our one bedroom to a two bedroom, we got friends to get their cars and help us move. We did hire a van and a few helpers but having a showcase shattered during the process left me unhappy.
In early September 2018 we moved from our two-bedroom apartment to my new palace in the sky and this time I took no chances. We got the E-Movers team to help us move and they did this in a single day. A sweet Nepali lady helped me pack my kitchen while my bored husband twiddled his thumbs having nothing to do. It took about 12 hours to pack, move, unpack and set-up home again thanks to a very experienced and organized team. And yes, nothing was lost or broken.
As I look out from my balcony watching the fireworks lighting up the sky above La Mer in Jumeirah, I know how Dubai changed my life and I appreciate the freedom it gives me. My mother-in-law visits regularly and has her own room, but I am a free bird with wings of my own. No more supervision, but only a pleasure to keep her happy.
This is my home, my way, my life. Dubai, I love you.
Disclaimer: The stories are a work of fiction based on facts. Identies and details may have been altered to suit the narrative.