Burj Khalifa

20151025_170044Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is the tallest man-made structure in the world. We are talking here about 830m, and this is a lot. And of course, first time in Dubai, I had to visit that building. The good thing is, it is visible from far, from every direction. Hence it’s hard to miss, so I thought. So I decided to walk from my hotel to the tower. Didn’t look that far away, and actually is wasn’t, if there had been a straight way towards it. So first thing I learned, Dubai is not made for pedestrians. There are sidewalks, but as soon a you are leaving the attractions, you are alone there, and there never is a direct way. Very few people walk. And I think I know why, it’s really hot in Dubai. So I tried to walk slowly, but you start sweating immediately nonetheless. Well, I did. You can feel the dessert around Dubai and you can feel the humidity from the sea as well. Sweaty combination.

20151025_114408Independent from this, I managed to get lost in a construction side. And there are many of them, huge construction sites with armies of construction workers, creating more and more skyscrapers. This is actually very impressive, especially since I am sweating already when walking slowly and they are carrying heavy stuff around. But a few chats with construction workers later and a big jump through fresh concrete , I managed to get back into civilization, the Dubai Mall.

20151025_165335And, surprise, the Dubai Mall is of course the world’s largest shopping mall. What else? This is the largest collection of shops and restaurants I’ve ever seen. You can get lost in there easily. But if you don’t like shopping, then this is your hell. And deep down in the basement, there is the entry into Burj Khalifa, at least for the tourists. And this is what the place looks like, tons of souvenirs. There are two tours available and one of them goes up to the observation deck at the 148th floor. This is the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, in 555m height. There are still 275m till the top of the building, but don’t underestimate  that height. This is already really impressive, more than half a kilometer above Dubai. Up there they serve drinks and sweets and you have 30 minutes to enjoy the view. And what a view. You even can see the “World islands”, a group of artificial islands, looking from above like a world map.  Several islands form the continents.

Dubai looks very small from up there, you can see the coastline and the surrounding dessert, you can see the older districts of Dubai and the newer ones. This is really impressive and the height teaches you respect. Leaning against the glass window is a challenge. All in all a breath-taking experience.

Incredible India

20151011_092455I have been in India a couple of times before, but India is fascinating every time, on so many levels. Why do I think so? Well, the Indian culture is so much different from my own and every time I come back, my horizon moves a bit more. Every time I go there, I come back with lots of thoughts and realizations. India is grounding me in a way.

Why? One aspect is the poverty in India. Many people don’t have homes, sleep on the streets, have not enough to eat. This makes me very sad. Especially when we are driving around in cabs, from the hotel to the office. And at the junctions, women with little children knock at the car window and ask for money because they are starving. Then I’ll try to help, but I can’t help them all. And I feel bad about myself because of that. I simply was lucky to be born into a rich and safe country. And people in India and other countries have to fight every day to survive. And I have a cab driving me into my hotel to have a big dinner. This feels not right at all.
And then I remember how many people in my home country behave. There is so much greediness, distrust, envy, jealousy and materialism, despite all the security, wealth and social safety nets. People are save and rich in average, many own a lot of stuff and still it is not enough. People are grumpy and unhappy. And even worse, people think they have deserved their status, money, safety. They start thinking that they are better than others, becoming arrogant, impolite and disrespectful. But actually they just have been lucky to be born into a safe and rich society. This is really sad, everything is taken for granted without thinking.

But actually it is not the poverty alone, what grounds me. It is rather the contradictions. Every country has rich and poor people, but in India the discrepancy couldn’t be more drastic. There are very poor people, living at the streets, having nothing to eat. And right next to that there is a big building with glass fronts, modern and shiny. On the streets you can find camel carts next to a Mercedes S500. Those drastic mismatches are everywhere. Might it be the modern building of a software company, right next to a hundred years old temple with praying monks. These discrepancies are something I have difficulties to accept.

But India is much more. I love the colors. India is so colorful, it is amazing. Especially if you come from a country like mine, which is rather dull and grey compared to India. You can find the complete spectrum of almost everything in India, not only the color spectrum. This is what makes India so fascinating for me.
Another aspect is the attitude of many people there. Despite the hard living conditions and besides all poverty, people appear happier. People appreciate what they have and are happy with their lives. Isn’t this great? I love that. especially since I am coming from a rich country. Back at home people own a lot of things, but nonetheless they are unhappy. There is so much envy and anger and frustration and isolation and materialism. And now think twice which of the two countries is richer.