The serrated landscape of Dubai become an array of visual splendor at night. Bright yellow dots neatly arranged in rhythmical lines, appear as a mammoth inescapable labyrinth when the flight descends to one of the busiest airports in the world. What is find so fascinating about Dubai is the strangeness of life. It delivers surprise in every inch. Paranoia about the infrastructure and architectural perfection is evident in every tower built in the middle of this spectacular desert city. These buildings are massive, sometime gazing many hundreds of feet above your head, looking down upon your minuscule existence. As a runner, I have seen yet a different Dubai. When a runner cuts through the streets and covers the serpentine alleys, Dubai reveals a new face, a discovery akin to diver hunting for treasure at sea. Unexplored spacial scenarios appear, while you try to cope with the exasperated existence in a hot and humid environment. I met Vijay during one of these runs while preparing for Dubai Marathon in 2016.
Vijay is from Hyderabad and has been living in Dubai since 2005; 13 years of stay in Dubai will make him a veteran. He is also one of the most unassuming person that I have met and my reasoning would concur with most of others. Always ready to offer help in every possible way. When we were away with my father-in-law and my niece alone for few days, I had given them Vijay’s number in case of any help needed. Vijay used to be very fat, he shows me a few old unrecognizable pictures in support and also used to smoke profusely. He is now a reformed man, a runner and a very fine one. When I met Vijay for the first time, he was to run his first marathon in Dubai in 2016. A day before the marathon, he had fever and still ran the full distance (42.2 kms), medicines keeping his temperature in control. Since then, he has never looked back and has excelled in each new marathon and bettered his timing. What differentiates Vijay is his will and determination. He is doubt-less. His soft interior hides this side of him.
It was one of the usual Friday mornings, during one of our runs that I got an invaluable gift. We were on our way to the Club runs and we were late. The banters of the weekend Thursdays in Dubai had got better of us. I was driving, and had recently got my driving license. As a new driver in a foreign land, I built a rule that I couldn’t compromise with. When the green traffic light blinks, I had to stop. To the wrath of many around me, I follow this rule religiously. In Dubai, you should pray that I’m not ahead of you because even in the most urgent of situations, I would not go further, while you go on honking behind me. I’m shamelessly proud of my callous honest adherence. However this specific morning, my rule was to be put to a test. Vijay & I were late for our Dubai Creek Striders Club run. In the wee hours of the morning, if we didn’t reach the meeting point on time and we would be left to wonder where did the pack go. Thankfully, Vijay and I kept ourselves busy debating the choice of final destination and therefore the thoughts didn’t reach unwarranted conclusions. We were 3 minutes away from the start, and therefore I increase the speed of my Ford Explorer, the vehicle grunts and picks up the throttle and at the same time I can see the approaching green light. We are at a confusing distance; my mental calculation says that because it has been green for sometime now, it would start blinking any minute. As I come closer to the traffic signal, it does happen. The green light starts blinking, though I’m still away, I don’t stop. But this time, the ghost of the green light doesn’t bother me, I keep going on, crossing it in the nick of time.
In normal day and sane circumstance, I would have stopped. That was truly my first reaction. But I jammed on the accelerator. This was first exception of my holy rule to stop. Why? Vijay told something to me that made a lot of sense. Not just in this one instance, but I would refer to it in many more such scenarios. The words became like a flash card which I would use again and again.
When the lights were blinking and Vijay saw my confusion, he said, “If you doubt, you are done.”
Precisely, in the moment of crucial importance, the doubt impedes judgement, reasoning and could be greatest folly that you can commit. It doesn’t let you act and negates movement. Doubt is an ill that ails the will and determination. In most defining moments, I would reflect these words and the instance. Never to be at the cross roads on indecision and doubt. Else you are doomed to be in the limbo perpetually. Truth disguised as plain sight and beckons you unannounced.
We did try hard, but the pack had left the moment we arrived. Fortunately, we could catch them and the efforts didn’t go in vain. As the delicate atmospheric effect of sunlight permeated the early hours of the day, Dubai reveled in yet another glorious day. Wisdom illuminated like the bright sunlight for me, while my exhausted self was screaming inside to stop. Vijay went on and on.