Rupert saw it all happen, sitting on the abra, crossing the Creek every day for five years until the day he finally got a driver’s license and was able to explore more of the city that the abra had introduced him to.
By Jojo Dass
Ride the abra and let Dubai cast a spell on you.
This perhaps explains why most people who used to cross the Creek on the abra – for work or as weekend warriors – have stayed on through the years.
The spell just wouldn’t go away. It’s in the breeze caressing your face; the view from the other side; the wooden, motorized boat crossing the water with nothing but bare essentials – not even a rope or some kind of railing to hold on to as you sit next to each other on a bench for the 15-minute ride; and of course, the water itself, calling on you to frolic.
Rupert Fernandes, 62, born and raised in Mangalore, India, arrived in Dubai 27 years ago when he was 35, and worked as a marketing agent.
The abra, he said, was a daily thing for him as he raises a family in the city – his daily grind at the time, if you will. Unbeknown to Rupert, the spell caught up with him and carried him through the years.
“What I love the most about Dubai is the abra. I used to ride the abra twice a day. Back then, the fare was just AED.50 fils,” recalls Rupert, who now heads a reputable company’s logistics and freight forwarding division in the Jebel Ali industrial zone.
Indeed, Rupert is always reminded of the Creek and his abra rides whenever he sees his two daughters: the eldest was born in 1993 at around the same time he arrived in Dubai; the second, in 1996 at which time he was already busy making a living, with the abra becoming a regular fixture of his working class life.
Along with his rides on the abra are memories of how Dubai was during those days. “I have seen how Dubai grew. I saw it all happen. I absolutely feel I have become part of this city’s growth,” says Rupert.
Yes, Rupert saw it all happen, sitting on the abra, crossing the Creek every day for five years until 1998 when he finally got a driver’s license and explore more of the city that the abra had introduced him to.
Rupert’s wife works at the same company. His two daughters are now living their own lives in Melbourne, Australia. The couple is looking forward to being reunited with them in the future and tell them about the abras on the Creek, among other stories.
Indeed, for generations, the abra has been the lifeblood of Dubai. Those wooden boats have been there since the days when there was nothing much on both sides of the Creek but a number of houses and merchandize shops lit only by flickering lanterns.
And the stories have been passed on and on. (Photo by the award-winning Marcky Mark)