I was telling people that I had been a participant in the conference of sick people in Dubai, but it wasn’t the conference of sick people in Dubai. It was the NCD Alliance Global Forum 2017 which means it was a forum of professors, NGOs, politicians, people advocating for patients and sick people themselves.
I came back. Now I’m able to tell you how it went;) Of course, I have plenty of thoughts on a subject of the conference – NCD Alliance Global Forum 2017, but I have the feeling that my readers are equally interested in the basics. how did I handle the trip? Was I very tired? Did I skip classes?;) What did I see in Dubai?;)
Warning: it’s gonna e a long entry, so I divided it into few parts so that people having difficulties in reading could read it part by part.
Plenty of you was asking me about flights and journey itself. Of course, I had to fly to UAE. Two flights each way. I didn’t experience any problems connected to flying. I mean none. Nothing hurt, even my ears weren’t hurting me during landing. After coming to the hotel I got a headache, but I bet the reason was exhaustion, not change of height:)
I know that plenty of people who suffered the brain stroke has huge problems with flying. I feel much better in a car than on a plane. In this case, it was the same. Sorry mom, the drive you gave me to the airport was much worse than the flight itself. Taxis, cars, buses were my nightmare. No exception in UAE. Sorry about that.
The worst health-related experience I had there was travelling to the desert and back from it. For the first time since I had been dealing with motion sickness, I seriously feared about vomiting. On the way there (about 30-40 mins, a lot of time through the city) and back I was feeling terrible. Worse on a way back. Opening and closing window wasn’t making things better because something smelled like an oil. I have no clue what was the source: oil-bearing fields of Sharjah or our li bus, but believe me, I was squinching in my seat and praying for the happy ending.
In comparison to this experience 6-hours-long flight was really like holidays.
Party on the desert itself was a joyful experience. First, we visited the archaeological site and then we had traditional grill party with plenty of nice things like camels, owl, henna tattoos, calligraphy, traditional Arabic dance (of men!).
By the way, Emirates airline is really worth recommending. Food was nice, I had no problem with getting juice, stewards and stewardesses were extremely polite and nice, you could see the quality of their training. Selection of movies was good also. 20 MB of free wifi did its job too. 🙂
For the first time in my life, I visited the airport in Dubai. It’s really huge. But I guess it wasn’t like peak hours for me. I was departing early in the morning and coming late at night. No lines there then;p But most shocking fact was that I bought 0,5 l water for 2 dhs (2 zł, less than 0,25 eur). In vending machine. I loved it, especially when I found out that the cheapest available in… Warsaw and it was more than 1 eur.
Conference and Sharjah
The plan was simple. To rest enough and still take part in everything that’s possible. But without feeling obliged to anything. I was planning to do these things for which my body lets me. And I don’t care about feeling guilty about having ticket paid…
I didn’t manage to be so cool. I felt obliged. This stress was an intensifying weakness in my body. OK, during the forum we had a lot of breaks, coffee, tea, water, but these were used to talk and eat. And from morning until the night I was dealing with huge noise. People were everywhere, constant hubbub. All of it made me superweak, especially on the most important conference day. I was feeling so bad that I had to skip one workshop. The most interesting one I guess.
True, I tried to have a nap in the conference venue, but it was really impossible. I skipped one of the plenaries and tried to sleep, but, due to nice volunteers, I had no chance. Each 3 minutes someone would come asking whether I had been feeling well. It was impossible to have the nap. That made me skip class. Feeling very guilty I came back to the hotel. Only my brother could make me feel better. His logical mind helped. I needed to hear someone saying that health goes first.
While skipping the class I met Rakya, a woman from Nigeria, activist and advocate. She was full of scepticism saying that she goes from place to place telling people the same story and nothing come out of it.
But her story is inspiring enough to show over and over again. Amazing. I’ll tell you the story in my gallery of the faces. Even though she doesn’t see the change after sharing her narration, it’s worth showing.
Anyway, Rakya didn’t go to the party on the desert. „My kid, I live in a desert, don’t need it” seemed legit;) Yeah, there might be the desert, but I’m sure they don’t have Arabs dancing layalla (the way is shown in the video but with no gun).
How loud it was! And they were dancing over and over again. Thay was crazy and very interesting.
In Sharjah, I took part in two parties. One was very fancy, after the official opening ceremony on which Sheikh Dr Sultan III ibn Muhammad al-Kasimi and his wife were present. Sheikh is an enlightened man with two PhDs. Together with his wife they run and finance Friends of cancer patients (I think that her royal highness suffered from cancer, that’s why they found this organisation. The speech of sheikh was like the listing of successes of Emirate of Sharjah, but still, he was the host and I don’t think I have a reason to complain.
Mrs Sheikh hasn’t spoken then, we were also forbidden to take pics. I saw her on our last day, she was walking next to us and was thanking us for our presence.
The opening reception after the celebration was delicious.
It was held on the Flag Island, perhaps the most famous place of Sharjah. It’s because the Emirate has a huge flag there, biggest in the world (if no one has beaten this world record). And it was the only place I the city itself not from the windows of a bus. I just saw few nice buildings while commuting. We were really busy from morning till night if we had wanted to participate in everything.
On the reception party I sat next to Georgians and until the end of the forum I was called „kochana” by them („kochana” means „my love” or „my dear” in polish). What else. I smudged my beautiful dress right away. I’m like walking definition of clumsy and also I have problems with the left side of my face.
On the next day we were taken to Mleiha archaeological centre where we could find out plenty of interesting things (yet, for me goats were most interesting. I’m so sorry, Mleiha!). Then things I’ve mentioned before started: the bonfire, grill, Arab dance and so on:)
This party was an only occasion when I was called „habibi”. It was my fault, to tell the truth. I started flirting a bit. Then regretted, but it ended with a nice conversation and getting a card from the talented guitar player.
In Poland, we have an old song called „a boy with the guitar would be a fit for me”. If you know what I mean;p
Dubai, where I spent two nights after NCD Alliance Global Forum, was different. I was by myself, no volunteers next to me( ; Evenings I was spending with friends of the friends, so I wasn’t too lonely.
What can I say about the city? As for 2 days, I saw plenty and I liked the wild, not that organised side of the city. It was full of peoples power, bit poor, bit not poor, colourful, chaotic, alive. This side, which was shining with petrodollars, was just rich and shiny. Nice to see, but not that interesting to experience.
By the way, did you know that Dubai is almost one big bankrupt? The city spends money like a kid which just got its allowance. Without smart moderation, as if petrol still was like 120 USD per barrel. Dubai is sinking in debts, that’s why the city and the Emirate try to find ways to fill its strongrooms, for example with brand new 5% tax. Just 5%, but in the end, it’s a huge difference.
Even Burj Khalifa was completed with borrowed money;)
In Dubai, one of my main qualities caused me some troubles. I’m kind and I’m usually smiling at people (despite the fact that they are usually afraid of me) and I really do like speaking to people. Passing next to shops it’s normal to hear „excuse madame. Miss? Bag? Chanel? Louis Vuitton? Arabic perfume? Gold? Marriage?”. My habit of talking to people made me suffer a bit: I overpaid for some things, felt disappointed. But in the end, I’ve learned my lesson. Not to ask for products first and to pass without any reaction. When you react, you’re lost. You overpay, have to say „no” to marriage proposals, shopping proposals and even to sex proposal, you are trapped. It’s good to remain silent, even when you feel it’s very impolite.
By the way, 100% of people selling in these little shops are men. Not wealthy Arabs, but just ordinary people from all over the world, but almost 100% of clerks in these small shops are men. I wonder why, as in Dubai Mall or in bigger shops you can see women selling.
I don’t get it. Maybe it was only about „my” neighbourhood, but to tell the truth, I doubt it.
I have to say a few words about Burj Khalifa-Dubai Mall complex, as it’s like one of the most iconic places of the modern, sparkling world. It looks rich and big. In Dubai Mall (the biggest shopping centre in the world) it’s really easy to get lost. The signs there are poor, and – sadly – you have to cross it on a way to Burj Khalifa. To enter the highest building in the world you have to find your way through the biggest mall in the world. Good luck. Fast walk from the metro station to the gates of Burj Khalifa took me like 25 mins. Loooong corridors with moving pavements, shopping centre, poor signs, good that my slight delay wasn’t that horrible and my visit to the top wasn’t too short. By the way, the closer to the tower you get, the more expensive your water gets. The higher you go, the more expensive gifts are. Water for 3 was bearable only because I really needed water and I was very late for my turn. But difference 54 (at the top) to 30 (down) for souvenir sweets is that big that I have to warn you;) Don’t buy souvenirs on the 125 floor. Not worth it (;
In Dubai Mall, I visited also the aquarium. It was cool, but nothing that special. Sadly, I didn’t have much time so my sprint didn’t let me enjoy it a lot. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d really enjoy the fishes, even if I had time to appreciate them. Sorry, the underwater world may be cool, but fishes aren’t goats;) And I like goats.
In the complex, there are dancing fountains in the evenings. Worth to see:) I recommend. But it’s not worth to die in the crowd trying to experience the show. Don’t go there on weekend;) It was crowded enough on Tuesday.
The thing that I liked the most about Dubai was Indian food, little Indian market (full of Indians, not tourists!), and boats called abra, which is traditional, so to speak, boats taking people back and forth, from one side of the canal to the other. Like a shuttle bus. It was a nice experience ((( ; My guide there was asking me whether I can swim… I’m a confident swimmer, so no worry there, but! I can see from where these questions came. Abras don’t seem to be very safe and stable boats.
And! Abras can be traditional, but they swim on a completely artificial creek. My guide told me, that it’s an inverted world. In Dubai, bridges are built before there is a water. This city is artificial. You can see it from the top of Burj Khalifa: how artificial and powerful it is. Amazing. From the top, you really see, that the city was built on the sand. I kept thinking how it is even possible. Dubai can be really the triumph of engineers. Impossible is nothing for this city.
Let’s remember that even Jesus Christ was saying, that building on the sand hadn’t been too smart. Well, look at this Jesus, they made it. While walking the streets it’s not visible at all. From the top of the urban world, you could see the struggle, fight between nature and culture.
In the end, I liked the city. It’s worth seeing, but it’s not on my „top 5”, not even „I’d really like to come back there” list. It’s interesting, but not that much.
Nice qualities it has, people are generally friendly, they rather speak English, you can buy things both like the richest man and like a poor.
People weren’t interested in exchanging even „hellos” with me in their mother tongue. Bad luck.
better luck I had in talking to people during the conference. I was extremely scared that I wouldn’t find anyone to talk to there, that I’d be too tired/shy/unconfident to speak to anyone. But, to my surprise, I wasn’t that bad. Even started conversations myself! 🙂 BELIEVE ME: THAT WAS MY GREATEST SUCCESS.
Being in a big gathering of strangers isn’t my thing. Since the brain stroke, of course. Normal conversations in an unfamiliar environment aren’t my thing. But I handled everything better than expected.
I got some cards – greetings!!!;), I made friends, but the funniest new friend was a boy from room service. We spoke a lot and when he was taking care of my room it was perfect. We laughed. He had a nice smile while wishing me sweet dreams and closing curtains during my afternoon nap. 🙂 I wish he knew that I’m very grateful for his help. I think he did, as he was waving to me, while I was leaving the hotel.
I should have taken his phone no;) Ok, I’m kidding, but… ( ;
So that’s the social part of Sharjah, the part from Dubai was at least equally nice. I was spending evenings there with friends of my friends. First one with a guy from Pakistan, who was protective, caring and lovely:) I wish I could pay him back one day for our Dubai experience.
Secon evening I spent with a friend of my Indian friend. I experienced hospitality from Kerala (Indian state). I had a lot of fun and I hope he wasn’t bored too:) Completely different experience from the first evening, no better and no worse, but different. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met there.
To sum up…
My NCD Alliance Global Forum 2017 experience was better than expected. I did well. My bad mood which was caused by personal stuff wasn’t like a dense fog. It was there but didn’t overwhelm the general idea, impression, goal and mood. I handled everything better than I could plan.
Actually, I had a list of goals to accomplish there. These are both personal an”professional”, all connected to the life of strokie. I accomplished my mission. Have a look:
- talk to people. On a first conference, I’ve taken part after becoming unhealthy, I was running away from people and felt extremely anxious. In groups of new people, I’m rather shy and insecure worried about slow speech, worried about forgetting words, so this is a huge accomplishment.
- To see how stroke agenda is different from different diseases agendas. And programmes. I know a lot about brain strokes, but without broader context, it’s not that easy to judge where we are in our advocacy and fighting for stroke survivors rights.
- Make acquaintances interested in „neurological” issues, or other things that I suffer from. Maybe that’s a way to make my presence way useful? I prefer working by myself, but acting together can be beneficial sometimes:)
- Not be too stressed. I shouldn’t lose my precious health on things I can’t change.
- To benefit from NCD Alliance Global Forum 2017 as much as I can. And find out plentyyyy of things to tell you!
I have huge delays, on my polish website I’ve already posted a few texts about forum-related topics, but the time isn’t made from rubber and I’m not keeping up with anything, especially writing.
I have many news for you, my readers. Good and bad, but as always: I’m glad to have finished this text.
Enjoy the little gallery too;)