Learning in Wild: Yercaud

Excited, nervous, scared and happy. My exact feelings when the train pulled out of the station with a jerk. I was travelling alone to Bangalore to attend a programme by Inme as a volunteer. Though there were many humans travelling with me but they were as much of a stranger to me as I was to Bangalore.After 22 hours of wait in the train I finally reached my destination, Bangalore. I headed straight to my accommodation and had a good sleep till 12 o’clock in the afternoon.

Yercaud from Bangalore is about 4 hours 22 minutes. We had to leave by 6:00 in the morning. So there I was, on the road again with 79 kids and about 10 instructors. The road was beautiful! The winding roads left everybody in awe.

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After we reached Yercaud camp site, which was a private land of Inme, we were immediately given lunch. The KPRD (khana peena rona dhona) place as we called it, gave a view which made eating exotic. After which the kids were introduced to the camp rules and boundaries and were allotted the tents. Yes, we had tents too.

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View of the camp site.
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Got up to this view every morning. (View from my tent)

After putting the kids into their tents, the volunteers were introduced to the instructors. We were divided into four teams with four members each. Later in the day the teams were made with the kids and there were about 19 to 20 kids in each team, which was quite easy to manage.

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Introduction to the team.

The activities were decided for the next day. there were four activities to be chosen from, rock climbing, wilderness craft, bagpacking and ropes course. Our team was called KASHMIASAHABADE (Christianed so by the kids in our team. Still figuring out what it means). Our day one activity was bagpacking (you basically learn how to efficiently pack your bags when you have too much to carry in limited space). In bagpacking we also learnt how to make a map of a certain area, and how to make and remember the landmarks.

Pointer: never make a temporary thing you landmark. Your landmark should always be a permanent structure or a natural mark, like trees etc.

And believe me when I say this there were some beautiful and intelligent maps. I did try to make one, but mine looked like a really weird maze.

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Walking path

During the walk in the jungle, we saw many trees and also coffee plantations and learned how to distinguish between two coffee plantations. Our resting place for the day was the factory where coffee beans were separated from the seeds and then sent for further production. Soon after the explaination about the coffee process we headed to an abandoned house where our group leader, Tony Sir demonstrated how to pitch a tent. Back to our camp site we had our lunch and then the day went by playing with the kids.

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X and O game

The night got with it a huge storm accompanied rains. Tents got wet. We knew now that there are more coming, and the next time, we will be prepared. After hardly any sleep at night, because the kids came in and constantly woke us up at night, complaining of insects inside the tents, (Solving their problems gave us new thrill) the morning was still fresh and beautiful. Morning brought with it a new day, starting off with power up activities. Which were basically small rhymes to make exercise more exciting for the kids.

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Power up activity.

After the power up and before leaving from the camp for our respective activities we had a surprise guest visitor introduced to us by our Campus Chief Uma Shankar Sir. Guess who it was, you’ll never be able to guess, it was a SCORPION! We learned a lot about scorpions that day, the most important one was, there is nothing to be afraid of, they are little creation of the nature like we are. They are nature, let them be and they will let you be.

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Scorpion on display
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CC handling the Scorpion

After meeting our guests we proceeded towards our respective activities. Our activity for the day was Ropes Course. In this activity we have different styles of walks using ropes and also walking on the ropes. Trust me its all about balance. You learn balance! With it we also did ziplining which was, frankly the most fun part of that day!

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Tony sir explaining how to walk and the safety measures required.
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Tony Sir demonstrating how to do the activity and the kids spotting him.

The night dawned on us this time without rain, and we slept. The morning was sunny on the third day, but exciting at the very same time because today we were going for wilderness craft (fyi, its my favourite out of the four). We packed the necessary things and off we went on a very thrilling path. We literally walked on the edge of the cliff. It was just breathtakingly amazing (if that’s even a word :P).

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Wilderness walk

After walking for about 1 hour 30 minutes, we took a stop where Tony sir explained to us how to light a fire by three ways. They were, flint and steel, matchbox and small gas stove. We were also made aware of what is the most combustible in wild, which is cotton. It catches fire very easily. Some embarrassing revelations. Frankly, I have never lit a match stick, and I was asked by Tony sir to demonstrate it to the kids. I did not want to disappoint Tony Sir, so I took the task in hand, and for the very first time in my whole existence I lit a match stick. It was scary, but it was amazing (phat gayi, par maza aa gaya). With that new learning we made hot chocolate and headed straight towards the camp site, where there was pasta waiting for us!

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Scene from the watchtower, naturally made India map.

That night was an ultimate night, at around 6 when its usually not that dark, clouds came over us and it felt like it was night already. It rained cats and dogs that night, with heavy lightning and also hailstorm for a short period of time. There was no light, the kids were scared, some were crying, they were all entertained by the instructors and kept sane. The rain bought with it a lot of disasters as well, like there were tents which were torn and broken. But it was all good in the end.

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The night moved on and a new day came by. Fourth day brought with it new adventures. Rock climbing! We took the kids inside the jungle near a huge rock which they would climb. There are two aspect in rock climbing. One bouldering, in which you climb a rock with techniques (some types of holds you need to know for both), without the help of a rope, which is tied to your waist with the help of a harness. A rock of about 10ft can be considered as a boulder and would be safe to climb without a rope. A rock more than 10ft requires you to have a rope tied to your waist with the help of a harness and you have a belayer to control your fall, if you loose your grip or if you slip. Helmet is a must in both the activities. The kids were a bit scared but everyone did it, and so did I (yayyy, dancing right now). After finishing the last activity of the camp, we all headed back to the camp site. The usual activities went by and we all were sound asleep in no time.

The next day was Helter Skelter time. This is a time period when all the kids are divided into four groups, totally different from their previous groups and compete with each other in different games. They are all given certain number of points in the very beginning, rest they have to earn on their own. The games were so amazing that the kids and so did we, totally indulged ourselves in it and competed with each other with bitter rivalry. Loved it. We became kids for one day to!

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One of the games of Helter Skelter

That night was very emotional for everyone all the kids got a DJ night and we were having our last volunteer-instructor meeting. After the meeting we the volunteers and some instructors sneaked out in the night to the watch tower. The view from there at night still remains in my eyes. I would never ever in my whole living life will forget what vision my eyes beheld. I close my eyes and I still see that lighted India map, never have I ever seen anything more mystical than that! I was so glad we made that trip.

(Sorry I don’t have any picture, was to busy capturing in my minds eye… :P)

When the sun woke us up the next morning, it was the day for Goodbye’s. We had to leave for Bangalore by lunch time. Everyone was busy packing their stuff, telling each other how much they loved the camp, making promises to stay in touch. So did the volunteers and so did the instructors.

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Kids walking out of the gate.
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“Didi, please sit with me in the bus.”

“The trip” as I call it was another great learning experience. Learned to survive, learned to be nice, learned to stay together, learned to be kind and most of all learned to be a kid at heart always, because that’s what is going to get you through life!


Hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and experiencing it. If you are already here, please don’t leave without leaving a like or a comment, it only helps me to improve. Please don’t hesitate to leave any criticism, its the only thing most welcomed! And also any further details, questions or collaboration or a travel opportunity please give me a call or write me an email!

Thank you!

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Mindset Of a Traveller!

Time to Travel people!

The season of travelling has arrived and I am here to give you tips on how to travel.

We travel for two purposes:  a.) Luxury.     b.) Because we love travelling.

Personally in my lifetime (whatever lifetime I have had) I have travelled with family, without family, international school trips and also spontaneous alone drives (not far off though :P). I have experienced luxury travelling, but not luxury as in staying ONLY in the hotel room, with luxury travelling I have experienced actual travelling, like sightseeing and stuff. Contrary to this I have also slept nights in a temple floor, with freezing temperature outside and also on the surface of the Earth (literally) with nothing but a small sheet separating us from the ground and all the mud (but legs still being in mud).

So I can safely say that I have had my share of experiences with travelling. ūüėõ

In this post I will be covering the LUXURY mindset of a traveller. And hopefully the next will follow soon.

Now lets see how to start of when you are aiming for Luxury travelling:

1.)  Have a nice Hotel room to go to.

When you are planning your luxury travelling, always remember that while you are booking a hotel room, to where ever your destination maybe, always book a room with a nice view and jaw dropping facilities.

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Having a nice view from the Hotel room and awesome facilities, you can experience the actual luxury that you have come to experience. The view from the room keeps you entertained while the facilities make you lazy. A beautiful view of snow-caped mountains or a river gushing at its full pace or a sunny beach whose waves can be heard constantly, will be all the adventure you will need. This is a small getaway from the reality, where you can meditate and shop till you drop.

2.) Shopping Therapy.

Believe it or not, shopping is a therapy. It is indeed a stress buster. You are free to ask any psychologist in the world, or even refer to books about it.

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When it comes to destination shopping, there is a sudden rush. We want to take as much as possible, because we feel if we leave out things, we are not coming back for them. This is a one time thing. Buy as much as you want if you don’t have space buy another suitcase, enjoy shopping. Be creatively greedy and shop your minds out. Have a smile on our face when you have paid for something. I know it is a wrong advice, but do it, feel that rush. Once in a while, it’s okay!

3.) What to carry.

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Don’t let your closet leave you in dilemma. Take control! If your goal is to solely enjoy on this vacation then why carry the weight of sports shoes. Your motto should be “dress to impress”. You maybe with your family, your friends or with anybody, dress like everyday is a red carpet day. Carry heels or simple pair of footwear which goes with any dress. Also one pair of comfortable footwear, just in-case you are feeling adventurous! 

4.) Planning of events.

Plan events according to your time and convenience. If you want to then do it, otherwise you can leave the adventure. You don’t have to rush into everything, get up late and plan the day ahead with a calm mind. If you want to laze around during the day, you re free to do that, don’t feel guilty about it. Planning is not an issue. You can either go on a one day safari ride, or just take a cable car and sit on the snow caped mountains or even explore all the trendy restaurants. You are there to relax, do not go on an adventure spree, unless that’s what you are there for. ūüėõ

5.) Mode of Travelling

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Mode of travelling- according to your convenience! ūüėõ 

These are few tips to travel when you are on a luxury travel. Even when you are on a luxury travel, you can still explore the city and country side. Trust me sitting in a hotel room is very boring. The basic aim for luxury travelling is to not rush it means to have a quiet get away, be it for a week, a day, 10 days or 7 days. You are there to enjoy, so do that. This does not necessarily has to be in an exotic foreign location, when you are travelling luxury, go where you have been (that is just my tip). But don’t ever forget to ENJOY!

Dear World: An Open Letter.

Body shaming is not appropriate. Period. 

There is no explanation is to why you should or can body shame anyone in this world. I mean anybody be it someone close to you or someone you just saw on the street walking or eating in a restaurant.

Some people give you an explanation that we are doing it out of love or it is just for fun. NO! Body shaming is body shaming be it out of love or just for fun. It needs to stop. Period. 

As children growing up, we have a social pressure to look and to behave in a certain way. Why? Why is it that, if we look or behave or dress in certain way then and only then we will be accepted by the world and the society that we live in. Nobody looks at you for the work that you are doing, the society will judge you by the way you look. Nobody and by this I mean nobody teaches you to be you. To be yourself and not worry about the way you look or the way you dress but to improve on your talents and be known for that. And not be pointed out everyday for being too fat or too skinny or ugly. Nobody has the nerve to accept an imperfect person for the way they are. Accept yourself! Don’t let people bother you.

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As a personal victim of body shaming I feel like a balloon full of emotions ready to burst out into tears the next time someone body shames me. But I hold back, I fight everyday against the body shamers. When you are body shamed on DAILY BASIS you just feel not good enough. You feel useless and start doubting yourself and your capabilities. The people who body shame other people don’t know how demotivating it is for that person and how damaging it is to their confidence. 

People who are body shamed fight, they fight everyday to even put a foot out of their home. They fight a battle inside that nobody knows of. They fight to be the person the society wants them to be. They strive endlessly to be beautiful looking person, which I think they already are. Look beyond their looks, have a peak inside their heart you won’t find anyone nicer than them. 

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When people laugh, make jokes on you everyday, tease you for the way you look everyday countlessly you just don’t feel good enough. The wish to exist just disappears. (By this I mean not to die, but just failing to exist, meaning to not go in front of anybody because you know they will body shame you.) The people who do it don’t know what all the other person has to face they laugh on you and move on. Easy. But what about the person who has been body shamed, what about their tears, their struggle? Think. Have Empathy. Feel their emotion. Recognize and Realize their tears. Don’t sympathies or feel sorry for them, because they don’t need it, they are much stronger than you think.

Do you all know that story, where in an island somewhere in the world people don’t cut the trees, they go to the tree everyday and curse them and one day that tree automatically falls down. That’s what all the body shamers are doing. If you are telling a person close to you everyday that they don’t fit the criteria of a perfect looking person set by the people of the society, that person will one day go. Not necessarily die but leave, just go away from your life. And when they are gone what will you miss their body, their not so perfect body or their heart, mind and soul? 

So instead of wasting your time in telling them how to fit the criteria of a perfect person, or body shaming them every step of the way, tell them you love them, tell them how much they mean to you, let them know that you accept them as they are because if they are gone they will never come back. And you will know who’s fault will that be. 

Stop Body Shaming! Be a good person! Don’t put anybody down, instead help them rise and strive to the best that they can. Stop Bullying! Stop Body Shaming! Find Beauty in Imperfection! Because it exists, it sure exists and it is the most beautiful thing one can know and see.

 

Darkness: The Divine Path

Light and dark, a simple concept of good and evil, happiness and sadness, knowledge and ignorance and so on. It is human nature that we always associate light with the good and darkness with the evil. We always use the statement “Let there be light.” Have you ever wondered why?

“Let there be Light” was the first statement in the Bible. In fact Mesopotamian population believed in the concept, that the world was created because of the victory of God over the forces of chaos and darkness. We always associate God with the forces of light. So when we say that the world was created because of the victory of God over chaos we indirectly say that the world emerged because of victory of light over darkness. This is a very orthodox belief. We all quite well understand it.

In this write up I would like to bring out the unknown fact about the concept of light and darkness. 

Egyptians believed that the world emerged out of darkness and swirling chaos. They also believed that darkness had a form and a purpose for existing.

You must be thinking what could be the form and purpose of darkness?

In Egyptian Mythology we have a God named KeK and Goddess named Kauket,  which literally translates as darkness. These two were husband and wife and controlled or more so ruled over the night or darkness. This is the form of darkness. 

Now about the purpose of darkness.

You will not find it anywhere on the internet if you search in mythologies. (Trust me I have tried) The purpose of darkness is very spiritually related. We know that darkness is inevitable, when there is light there is darkness. That is, when there is good there is evil. Where there is god there are demons. What darkness really tells us is that darkness comes from absence of love. It is a constant reminder to us that we are not in alignment with our true nature.

When the sun sets, we feel the light is gone. But this is the most important time. Take darkness as divine path towards Light or happiness or Love. If the sun won’t set we will never experience the joy of a sunrise. If we wont face the darkness or sadness, we will never experience the joy of a sunrise or happiness or a new day, a new opportunity, a new possibility.

Darkness gives us the time to heal, to rejuvenate and get ready for a new day. This is the time when we really find our true selves. It becomes the Ultimate path to Divine Light. Embrace it, love it, make it your part, endure it and you will never feel blue again.

I have started loving sunsets, have you?

 

Jihad: The War Within

When we talk about Jihad, what usually comes to mind is the violent method used by the Muslims,¬†to fight against¬†the non-Muslims or “ghair mazhab”. The word “jihad” is so often misunderstood. So here is a small¬†effort from my side to give you a little insight¬†on the dictionary meaning of the word “jihad” and what in my personal opinion I think should be the real meaning of that word.

So, when you search the meaning of Jihad this is what comes up: 

jihad
d í…™ňąh…Ďňźd/
noun
  1. (among Muslims) a war or struggle against unbelievers.
    “he declared a jihad against the infidels”
First of all this is misunderstood ¬†(that’s my belief). Jihad is always looked at as an action¬†word to scare or instigate people. it generally represents¬†hatred and in turn violence and bloodshed.
The mention of jihad in the Holy Quran had a different perception.
The core message of kindness, love and humanity was supported by jihad which meant fighting the evil thoughts within oneself and emerging victorious toward humanity.
 
The real meaning of jihad should be:

“The spiritual struggle within oneself against sin.”

Every religion teaches us to be kind to one another, have compassion, empathy and humane behaviour towards all living beings, be it another human or animal. 
 
The teachings of Islam are no different !!
The real meaning of Jihad is the war within. It is the war between good and bad inside oneself.
We need to fight the wrong within ourselves everyday to be able to do the right.

All the religious scriptures and teachings help us to understand the right and wrong, also I personally feel, we all have to be more spiritually mature to understand and judge. Following any religion blindly might lead us to become superstitious and judgemental. 
To attain spiritual maturity, combating the 7 sins  is what is important. Fighting against the sins within will make us a much better person than fighting with others for the same.

 


Very well quoted by Rumi :
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”

I am in search of that field…….Every day the lower¬†thoughts and actions stray me, I fight………The war within continues, the Jihad continues!!!

Continue reading Jihad: The War Within

BookReview

So I have been reading a book which is in a total vintage state, a love story and I had to write a review about it though it is quite different than what I usually write that is about my travels but anyway.

I found my self reading Barbara Cartland’s “A Fugitive From Love”. Name of the book is very accurate to the story which goes with it. A love story between a fugitive from a harsh series of incidents and abuse and a handsome, wealthy prince who was moving away from a terrible heartbreak in his Aphrodite (you need to read the book to understand what is Aphrodite, it does not refer to Greek God of love.)

The book starts in a scenario where we are enlightened with the poor financial situation which the female protagonist with her father faced. The male protagonist was not seen in the picture till almost half of the book but it was worth the wait.After the introduction the book moves on to all the good parts. Emotions are well portrayed!

The book is a simple love story, fast pacing it doesn’t bore you in the middle. The writer keeps you entertained through out, because something or the other is happening. Sentences like “impersonal refuge against the terror that possessed her.” and “collapse into unconsciousness so that she won’t feel the agony of what was inevitable”, give a literal literature rush!

Handsome male: check

Beautiful girl: check

Abusive, conniving and evil characters: check

This book is a total package and according to me it is 3/5 stars!

P.S- this is my first attempt on writing a review do let me know, if it was okay and helpful. Please write what you feel in the comment section below! And don’t forget to give it a like. Because your likes and encouragement drives me to write more and more. Thank you!

Enduring¬†the True Modern Middle Eastern Essence!

Getting up in the morning after a tiring schedule ( of Day 1 in Dubai) was way too difficult than we ever could have imagined. But we had to get up, because we had to get started with Day 2 in DUBAI! We had our breakfast and then went to the room to get ready as we were too lazy to get ready before we had something to eat. 

As soon we got ready we went down to the lobby, where we would get free wifi! Sitting there checking all the messages and updates from last night we waited for Shaan Bhai. Today was a day out were we will see all the major attraction which Dubai had to offer. It was a bad start to the day because our first destination was the Dubai Museum which sadly was closed for maintenance. We could not see it from inside. But we did manage to take pictures from outside. 

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On the Entrance of Dubai Museum. 
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In front of ship, a part of the museum but from the outside.

After taking a glimpse of Dubai Museum [from outside :(] we headed off to an area called Gold Souk. It was famous for cheap gold. Shan Bhai warned us to avoid buying the gold today, as we were already out of time and we needed to see a lot in that single day. So he told us to just take a look, compare the prizes and to buy later.

One interesting disappointment which happened was, Shaan Bhai took us in a shop to buy chocolates and dates, we did not buy (thank god). Later we came to know that the most famous Lulu market had cheaper and better dates than this. One of the traveller was furious on us and himself. On us because we did not tell, which by the way he did not ask and attacked¬†the shop as soon as we entered (I saw that and it was not a good sight) and secondly he should have known. So my advice to all the people travelling to Dubai, see the attractions and don’t be in hurry to buy, compare the prices ask around and keep a day only for shopping. Best thing about Dubai, no taxes you will get the stuff in the price written on it! So grab as much as you want but intelligently!

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In front of a shop, on Gold Souk.
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Modelling away on the road! (Not a good one though)

After giving half an hour extra, Shan Bhai was furious as he saw none of us at the meeting point. As soon as he would collect everyone and leave to call the bus driver, everyone would get scattered again. In this process the driver received a fine of 700 AED! Which was sad on his part and irresponsible on ours.

After all the commotion we moved on to our next destination which was a drive on the Jumeira beach. Wow what a view! But as good the view was the heat was harsher. Beating the fiery sun which shined upon us we quickly got down of the bus, because we don’t come to Dubai everyday, and we did not want to miss any part of it. We did sit for a while, but could not bear the heat for long so we hurried back to the air conditioned bus.

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My Brother in front of Burj-al-Arab.
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In front of Jumeira Beach.

After the beautiful drive we headed off to the Dubai mall. Which was huge! We saw the aquarium and water fountain which were inside the mall. Without wasting anymore time we headed of the see BURJ KHALIFA! The tallest man made wonder! We were given the tickets and we were all instructed more so given an option to stay as long as we wanted AT THE TOP! 

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In front of the visible half of the aquarium
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The water fountain inside the Dubai Mall

The lift which took us to the top was super fast. It reached 125th floor in just 60 seconds! Incredible! The lift was dark and there were disco lights all in arrow shaped, marking our movement upwards. Reaching at the top and looking down in the world was breathtaking, but it did give my brother and my mother a bit of nausea. I was not affected by the height at all and stood there taking in what the sight had to offer.

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Sign On the Entrance.
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View from the Top

After having ¬†waited there for quite some time, we made our way down again in 60 seconds inside the mall. We were hungry so we ate a little and then headed outside to see the water fountain show. I would have shown it to you, but I am not premium yet! ūüėČ

We sat there and enjoyed the two shows, that’s sitting in 53 degrees for one hour! Too much, but we did it any way and also managed to convince Shaan Bhai to take a sneak peak of one additional show. It was too enchanting to leave!

 

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Where The Fountain show took place.
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View of the tallest wander from where we were sitting.

After having enjoyed thoroughly the magical fountain show we headed off to eat in a cruise! It was known as Dhao Cruise. Ate a bit, danced a bit, drank a bit (only soft drinks) and again danced a bit! That’s how we spent our night until it was time to go back to sleep!

So this was the end of DAY 2 in Dubai. Hungry for more, follow to get updated first and know what happened to us in DAY 3! I promise its way too interesting! Stay tuned!