Next Stop: Dubai

Dear Friends and Family,

The last time you heard from me was a little over a month ago. Let me assure you, I’ve spared you. I do not think you would have much enjoyed my reports from the swamplands of Florida where I went to visit my mother (for the record, she’s doing well and sends her regards). The weather may be nice down there, but the pace of life is a bit too slow for me.

Now, however, I have some exciting news. You may have heard already, but I’m rejoining the Pepsi company. The opportunity I was seeking with Pepsi Dubai came through, and I’m shipping out this Saturday night. I’m very excited about what this means for my professional growth. There’s a lot going on in that region, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. Of course, the fact that my fiance is only a 2-hour flight away from Dubai only sweetens the deal 😉

Thank you for your help, support, and kind emails throughout my “epic world tour.” It has been an incredible experience. I’ve seen some amazing places and made many lasting friendships. And the most gratifying part is knowing that I’ve changed for the better because of it. I plan to continue traveling and writing whenever I can make the time. Thank you so much for your encouragement, which has been the single most important motivation for me to keep up my writing. In case you’re wondering, I still intend to update my blog with my experiences from the rest of my travels, but it may take longer than expected. In the meantime, I plan to start a new segment with the Dubai move.

If you decide to drop by Dubai, please look me up.

And by the way, if you happen to be listening to Marketplace on NPR next Tuesday, don’t be surprised if you hear my voice… 😉


Now Dubai, Pakistan Next

Dear Family and Friends,
Marhaba from Dubai! It’s been far too long since I sent an update. I was in India for the past month, and one thing after another seemed to interfere with my plans to send a comprehensive update. In any case, here’s the low down:

First off, you probably recall that I was only supposed to be in India for 15 days. Well, at the 11th hour, we discovered another “personal contact” who was placed high enough within the elite Hyderabad police force to recommend a second extension for my visa. This time I got a 30-day extension. I had already visited Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal), and Jaipur by then, so I decided to see Bombay and Goa as well. The rest of the time I spent in Hyderabad. Over all, I had an amazing time, and I met some incredible people, whom I dearly miss already.

I arrived in Dubai on Monday to find a sprawling city with a fledgling public transportation network and traffic-clogged roads. Taxis are quite expensive and hard to find. Nevertheless, I like Dubai. The place appears to be pretty modern and progressive. I just returned from a run at the Dubai indoor skiing place that we’ve all read or heard about. It’s really just a kiddy hill, but I had a good time nonetheless. Tomorrow I’m scheduled for a “Desert Safari” which includes a ride through some sand dunes in a Landcruiser. It’s supposed to be the thing to do in Dubai. If the ride doesn’t turn out to be very exciting, there’s always the belly dancer at the end of the day to look forward to.

On Sunday, I am heading to Karachi, Pakistan. This may come as a surprise to many of you given the current political situation there. We’ve all heard and read about the state of emergency President Musharraf has declared, and the images of plainclothes policemen beating up protestors on the streets of Islamabad are commonplace on all news channels (except the state-owned Pakistan Television, of course). However, after discussing the situation with my father who arrived in Karachi yesterday, I have decided to continue my trip to Pakistan. The fact of the matter is that such strife is not unusual in Pakistan, and the local people continue to live their lives despite the instability. It’s business as usual for most. Moreover, things often appear a lot worse on television than they may be in reality. This is not to say that I’m dismissing the possibility of real danger. I will, of course, take all necessary precautions during my stay there. And of course, I will send an update as soon as possible to give you a first-hand assessment of the situation.

So that’s the update for now. As you may have noticed, I’ve fallen quite a bit behind in my blog. Some of it is, yes, due to laziness and slow computers, but much of it is due to a perceived lack of interest on the part of my audience! Except Carlos F and Kamran Bhai — thanks, guys! If you’re still reading, let me know, folks. Leave some comments! 🙂 Pictures, by the way, have been updated. I’m not all the way through yet, but there are enough up since the last email to keep you busy for some time.