27 February 2009

Palm Jumeirah

Almost everyone I have met in the past 2-3 years (who hasn't yet been to Dubai) have asked me lots of questions about one project in the city - The Palm Islands.

I guess the scale of these absurdities are quiet unbelievable and is rightly met with a lot of scepticism, but the truth is that they are being built and the first of the three is now partially occupied. The aim of these projects are quiet simple – ‘To make Dubai the most Google Earth friendly city!’ i.e. to make these projects an advertisement for an otherwise almost unknown city on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, of course there are other more reasonable sounding arguments – like the need to add 520kms. of new shoreline to lure millions of potential European tourist who are only 5-7 hours away from their paradise in the sun. However you look at it, it’s hard to argue that its hasn’t been successful at ‘Putting Dubai on the world map’ – though new questions arise – At what cost?; Does it really work? and For how longt

Here are a few new photos I have made of and from - Palm Jumeirah.
I will roughly follow a sequence you would follow as a visitor to the island – making your way up the main trunk all the way to the Palm Atlantis resort and back on to main land before seeing a few aerial photos of the whole development.
Along the trunk road with extremely mediocre buildings making up the bulk of the housing units on sale on the island.

The 17 fronds of the palm house the more exclusive villas each with its own private beach in its backyard. As you can see in the above photo due to lack of proper water movement a lot of the villas have stagnant water on their beaches and the water has turned green, makes you wonder if all the relevant water flow tests were done prior to the construction of this mammoth project.

Here's a view of one of the fronds from the surrounding crescent island.

One of the other constant concerns raised about the project is about its workability – the fact that thousands of people have to be able to drive on and off the island and the possibility of traffic jams during rush hour – once the island is completely occupied. To confront this issue the Palm comes with its own monorail system that can transport thousands of commuters daily from the Atlantis and its adjoining water theme park along the entire length of the trunk to the main land, one hopes that it may even connect to the ambitious Dubai Metro project also under construction not far from here.
The palm shaped island is surrounded by another crescent shaped island that forms an 11 kilometre long breakwater. On this giant breakwater are the three main Hotels/Resorts of the Palm. Only the largest one - the Palm Atlantis - has opened and is the large building on the right (above). The small bridge like structure is the monorail linking it to the Palm and Dubai beyond.

This is a view as you exit the Palm, where the monorail crosses all the different levels of car movement.

Here's a photo of the Palm from the 25th floor of one of the towers in Jumeirah Beach Residence which is part of Dubai Marina.
And the next three photos were made last month as I flew out of Dubai heading for London.
Above detail of Palm Jumeirah - you can see the Atlantis resort and water theme park on the crescent, the fronds with the villas, the trunk with the apartment buildings and in the top left corner the high dense area of Dubai Marina.

Above the Palm Jumeirah (bottom half of the photo) and the larger Palm Jebel Ali (upper half of the photo)

And another view of the Palm Jebel Ali - its landfill work is almost complete but is yet to be built upon.
To end this posting here's a small timelapse video of the water traffic around the Palm Jumeirah.
Sorry its very short!! Still experimenting with a small Nikon point and shoot camera that has this option built in...

21 February 2009

Bye bye love!!!

Due to deepening economic crisis and still lingering colonial politics I have been forced to leave London. Last night to combat the extreme sadness of leaving behind my life here London I went with out my office friends and Meli to ‘Shunt’ probably the most interesting and unexpected experience I’ve had in London.. How ironic that it had to be on my last night in the city!!!

‘Shunt’ is a huge alternative art/performance/night-clubbish space housed below the London bridge railway station in a derelict labyrinth of railway arches.








This truly was a befitting end to my stay in this great city!!

I will miss London – its Hyde Park… its bus rides… its tea breaks… its museums with great exhibitions… and probably even its grey skies (I’m joking – not the grey skies!!)

However, most of all I will miss the great friends I’ve had/made here – some from my days in Mumbai.. some from Rotterdam … but mostly from here.......................Bruno, Kausha, Ninad, Bez, Paulo, Merce, Irina, Hina, Tina, Avani, Hrushikesh, Aditya, Adolfo, David, Seung Jong, Suyash, Maria Jose, Juliao, Gaurav, Ozlem, Diana, Sophie, Anna, Puja, Saurabh, Sachin and most of all Meli.. I will miss you all dearly!!!...

20 February 2009

Friday’s will never be the same!

For over a year while living in London - along with some friends from the office - I had made ‘having lunch at the Borough market’ my Friday ritual. And now that I’m leaving London for good this is one of the many things I’ll truly miss about being here.

Here are a few snaps of what is probably the most exciting food experience of the city.

I would get my food (which varied from fish n chips to a burger to barbeque or sometimes even some healthy organic stuff!) and met the rest of the gang in the small garden of Southwark Cathedral were we eat and soaked in some sun if we were really lucky!

But no matter what I had for lunch the highlight always was the cheesecake (or brownie) at the end, while on the way back to office. And after trying most of the deserts at this market I assure you that the small stall pictured below is truly the best place in London to have exquisite cheesecakes!

Aiiiii…. I will miss this!!!

05 February 2009

Life in non space

Over the last few years and especially the last few months I have spend quiet a bit of my life in airports and planes.
Above and below the newly opened Emirates terminal at Dubai
aka as terminal 3 Dubai
Moving from security counter to security counter, from terminal to terminal
Terminal 1 and 3 at Dubai
Terminal 3 at London Heathrow
bus ride along terminal 1 Dubai

London Stansted
Mono railing between the terminals at JFK New York
and almost always ending up running breathless thru duty free shopping malls to catch my flight.
Gold shopping @ Terminal 1 Dubai

Shopping @ Schipol Amsterdam

the valley of shopping @ Terminal 3 Dubai

Shopping @ JFK New York
I have even had the ill-fortune of missing a few flights and thus prolonging the time I’ve had to spend in its huge halls.
Departure Hall @ Terminal 3 Dubai

Departure Hall @ London Stansted

Departure Hall @ Terminal 1 Dubai

Viewing gallery @ Eindhoven

and more shopping @ Terminal 1 Dubai
Below are some of the interesting/odd/strange/beautiful things and spaces I’ve encountered in some of them.
multi faith prayer room @ Amsterdam Schipol

Palm walk @ Terminal 1 Dubai

Rijks museum airport branch @ Amsterdam Schipol

Alexander Calder 's moving sculpture @ JFK New York

Lots of people watching planes from the viewing gallery @ Eindhoven
Some of them even have nice gardens in them.
Arrivals area @ Brasilia Airport

Departure Hall @ Terminal 3 Dubai

Departure Hall @ Brasilia Airport
And with the advent of low cost airlines and budget multiple transit routes the inside of the airport has also become a big billboard for tourism.
Luggage Trolley @ Athens airport

Billboard with the 'world' islands @ Terminal 3 Dubai
Yet sometimes it’s the outside or context of the airport that’s equally or more interesting.
The TWA Flight Center building, designed by Eero Saarinen @ JFK New York
Cochin international airport in the middle of paddy fields @ Cochin, Kerala
and the Mumbai international airport surrounded by slums
My primary fascination for the airport however, is that like railway stations of yesteryears it is a great place to watch people – happy people.. sad people.. confused people.. tired people and extremely excited people – excited about their trips or probably of fact that they are about to defy gravity!
a curious family @ Amsterdam Schipol

some tired transit passengers @ Terminal 1 Dubai

pilgrims @ Terminal 1 Dubai

and more tired people @ Terminal 1 Dubai
Parallel to all this there is another world of the luxurious privilege class terminals and lounges which try really hard to match the human drama of the normal terminal thru opulence and fancy cuisine.
premium terminal @ Doha

Reading room @ Virgin atlantic lounge @ Terminal 3 London Heathrow

sky lounge @ Virgin atlantic lounge @ Terminal 3 London Heathrow

fancy meals behind water walls @ premium terminal @ Doha
Bistro @ Virgin atlantic lounge @ Terminal 3 London Heathrow

Bar and cafe @ Virgin atlantic lounge @ Terminal 3 London Heathrow
And after all that once I'm finally in the air, I'm almost always amazed at how the flight safety card (on most airlines around the world) has managed to eluded the over design and commercialization that has absorbed most airports and flights.
Check the electronic equipments on this one – some of these designs are older than me

And I think all air hostess should wear traditional clothes

These sheets of paper remain the only piece of humour during any airport experience! It would be a pity to lose this sense!
To end this post - here’s a link to new design for an Indian airline’s flight safety card that has captured this humour very well indeed - http://www.infomen.org/illustration-product-page.php?id=49 and another website of very funny politically incorrect safety card images - http://www.airtoons.com/

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