In Vogue: Desi Girl Traveler, Girls Gone Wild For MDNA!

Tarana Raja , 13 Jun 2012
Tarana Raja
Tarana Raja

Circa April 2012…

Frantic call from my girlfriend – “Madonna’s performing in Abu Dhabi in June!!!  Shall we?”
Me – “Yes!”
Her – “Super! Book it!”
Me – “Done!”
1 group chat on the Blackberry and 10 minutes later, 4 girls committed to reliving our youth in the UAE with our childhood idol, the one and only Madonna!

Tarana Raja
Tarana Raja

I was 7 or 8, when my cool 14-year-old neighbour, introduced me to a phenomenon called Madonna. I still remember knocking on her door in the afternoons, straight from school & asking her to please sing Material Girl for me! And she always did!

August 2009 – U2, done.  June 2012 – Madonna now done!

And what better way to pay homage to the queen of pop than with 4 girlfriends, all – with equally embarrassing stories (and pictures) of when we all first discovered Madonna!

2 months later there we were! Of course a semi Dubai excursion was plotted around the concert. 38 degrees heat be damned!

Night 1 – 3.

Agreed to kick things off with Fruilli at the Belgian Beer Café and the 4th wisely stayed home. We realized then just how many friends we each have in Dubai. Table for 3 turned into table for 12 at midnight!

The gang of 6 just before we disappeared in Dubai Mall for the next 6hours
The gang of 6 just before we disappeared in Dubai Mall for the next 6hours

Day 2.

1 wanted to shop shop shop, 1 wanted to just hit a couple of shops, 1 wanted to look at the dancing fountains, 1 wanted to just chill. All wanted to eat a fabulous Lebanese meal. Dubai Mall was it! 2 other local enthu cutlets joined us, and post a fabulously indulgent meal at Wafi Gourmet, 6 women took off in 6 different directions!

Outside Wafi Gourmet! Aarti, Pragni, Chandni and me – the fab 4!
Outside Wafi Gourmet! Aarti, Pragni, Chandni and me – the fab 4!

3 hours later – a pit stop of fabulous Papa Roti (sweet ‘n savoury buns) with masala chai, quick peeks at each others’ bags and off we disappeared again!

Oh a 7th girl arrived to meet me but we just couldn’t find each other in that absurdly large mall! I’m still in trouble with her. 6 hours later we sat on our shopping and got all teary to Chinese music with the stunning water fountains dance. A must see!

The Dancing Fountains at Dubai Mall
The Dancing Fountains at Dubai Mall

Home by 10pm, out by 10.30pm to meet everyone, who insisted on meeting us, at  – Barasti.

At Barasti
At Barasti

#Note to self – 20 people cannot be coordinated with!!!

Day 3 – Concert day!!!

Since we were up till 6am chatting, we woke up in time for a late lunch and some art browsing in fabulous Bastakia. An arty, quaint district in old Dubai. A must visit!

The Arabian Tea House in Bastakia
The Arabian Tea House in Bastakia

Nearly missed our bus to Abu Dhabi (women!) but arrived very happy (thanks to our premixed Gin and tonic in a bottle) at the Yas Arena by 8pm. Oh full blown Antakshari was played in the bus and Jhalla was the song stuck in our head as we reached Madonna’s concert.

Inside Yas Arena, Abu Dhabi
Inside Yas Arena, Abu Dhabi

Innumerable pints of beer later Madonna was on stage!!! In the flesh!!! In front of me!!! (Well diagonally across, beyond 15 rows of people.) But she was there!!!

11.45pm MDNA Finally!
11.45pm MDNA Finally!

The next hour AND a half went by with all of us intermittently grinning stupidly at each other AND jumping up & down every few songs, because she sang a lot of songs from her new album AND we weren’t fans of them all.

Shiny happy Girls gone Wild in the heat!
Shiny happy Girls gone Wild in the heat!

My favourites!

Like a Virgin – done acoustic, in a very dramatic AND graphic manner – just her and a male dancer – slowly pulling on her corset strings till we thought she’d break in half. I swear her waist is 20 inches!

Tarana Raja
Tarana Raja

Vogue – with the most amazing costumes I’ve ever seen. To see Madonna sing to you “Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it” and then strike one nonchalantly – an OMG moment!

She was outrageous for the UAE crowd and authorities, when she stripped down to nipple stickers for Human Nature, Erotica too was wild with a special cameo by her dancer boyfriend who did put his hands all over her body! Loved her saying “I’ll see you at home baby” to him!

For the super bowl song she had drummers suspended from the rafters!
For the super bowl song she had drummers suspended from the rafters!

Also Express Yourself followed by Gaga’s Born this Way finished with ‘She’s not me’ was fantastic, with everyone chanting “There’s only one Madonna” along with her! Oh and I totally loved her singing ‘I am the shit’ Because, hell she is the shit!

What didn’t go down well with some of us was the obvious lipsync on some of the more hectic songs. I refuse to make concessions for the fact that she’s 53 and was probably too winded to sing & dance in the heat. You can sing on plus one tracks, but don’t not sing whenever you don’t feel like it because we can see you not sing! That’s cheating. Must point out that my friends and 90% of the audience didn’t care about the lip syncing.

What a blast!!!
What a blast!!!

The night and the trip ended at a Lebanese Bakery – Moulin D’or for stuffed Mannakesh – the yummiest Zaatar filled Lebanese “Parathas” ever!

Over all we had a blast though I don’t think I’ll be flying to Tokyo with the girls for MDNA again. For Snow Patrol? Hell yes! They’re now on my new bucket list!

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