Monday, November 30, 2009

When Spring Returns

This weekend the dark clouds gathered around the global economy once again and this time it was on concerns that two of Dubai - owned companies may default on their debt obligations. Watching the news develop in the television stations a thought crossed my mind … “How happy we were there”.

I was transported to another world when I read Oscar Wilde’s “Selfish Giant” for the first time. The statement “How happy we were there” remained closed to my heart and popped into my mind every now and then.
This time it was not so much for us as we had reached Dubai as matters had already started to get sour, though I would have loved to live there. There has been hundreds of thousand s of families who had to leave the land of their dreams. The economy was buyout many people lost control over their lifestyle started to live beyond their means. They were sitting on the edge spend their past , present and future income with an illusion that they are immune to the global economic downturn without realizing that a strong breeze could throw them off balance. While some developed cardiac problems when hit others departed abandoning their earthly possessions. The state does not have personal bankruptcy protection and that prompted many to leave behind massive amount of unpaid credit card and personal loans. Many of them left behind their much loved new cars in one of the many parking lots. About 6 months back the government auctioned about 3000 sparingly used cars but there are still many and I guess new ones are joining the ranks like this one that I spotted in the expensive airport short time parking lot.

But this place was not fair to the people who actually built the city. The wages were as low as 1000 dirham while the bosses at the developers were at times taking home as much as 170,000 dirham a month. While the rentals for the apartments skyrocketed every effort were being made to drive the laborers, taxi drivers and other low income groups to outskirts keeping the city only for the rich, famous and the tourists.
Hope the city will embrace everyone rich and poor with open arms when spring returns to its gardens.How happy we are here! They will cry out to each other once again.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A few unrelated Current Affairs

We are scared to turn on the news stations these days and we wonder every time we switch it on about where has humanity gone and what value does a human life have today? We are dying in hundreds without any reason or fault of our own. This week there was this gore incident in the Philippines, where political rivals have killed 60 opponents and buried their body in a mass grave. Just for having different political views or was it the usual struggle for control?
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Mumbai attack. For us it is only a day to remember those people who lost their lives for just being there … wrong time wrong place for them. But for the families of those 165 people, it had been 365 days of painful existence.
Then there are two wars (would rather not call them war) being raged in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question is whether to increase the number of troops and if that will do any good. In brief they are putting more life at stake. My question to them is why do you struggle so much and waste so many lives to kill the end product. Why don’t you cut their supply lines of the number of arms and the extremist? While the extremists are usually homegrown, the arms & ammunitions are supplied by the developed (so called) countries.
Ireland has witnessed a couple of stray incident this week and that is not a good sign according to me.
Is there a deterrent for a suicide bomber? I wonder what punishment could be given to them if they could be apprehended!
As a child we learnt that when a people die they go to heaven and would point up to the sky. Many a stories have been written where the child asks for his dead father and mother points to the sky and assures that he is watching them from there. Today one American Astronaut Randolph Bresnik, who is in the International space station, is eagerly waiting to comedown to meet his child who is born while he is up in the sky. Things do change, don’t they?

Please do not get upset with the proportion of bad news. This is usually the proportion that we witness in the media today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Simplicity in Glitches

As a kid we used to have radios, the SW/MW kind of gadget and a few years into our childhood we met the first TV set. It was a black and white television set with a selector which could tune into 6 or 8 stations the selector came with an extra ring which was used to fine tune. In addition to that was the off/on and volume knob and all built into one. The radio used to have exactly similar set of control to tune in to a station or control the volume and a knob to switch between short and medium wave and I cannot recollect the existence of FM (frequency modulation) in those days! And the telephone was a solid black piece of equipment and well connected (with wires off course!).
Life was so simple then. Whenever one of those gadget failed transmit we immediately knew the cause. If it was not the power source it was the antenna connection unless the station is having trouble with transmitting the program. In latter case we a sweet voice would invariably come up apologizing for the interruption.
But now life is quite different! We have tens of gadgets in our house and each one of them has hundreds of controls options. Powered by nano technology, literally every household item has a micro processor chip installed and a few programs that run on that (No wonder the IT professionals and programmers are so much in demand). If we are not watching the Television we are watching a DVD or listening to some music or may be on the play station if not surfing the internet. But there is one uncanny similarity between life then and life now. Whenever the gadget stops working I have no doubt about what has happened… whether it is the phone or laptop or the TV or anything else ………. It has HUNG itself! But the good thing is that they are not humans, a simple reboot brings that back to life!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All is not lost

Last week while I was being driven around I had noticed a building with big neon sign announcing that it housed the “Jarir Book Store”. I had decided on that very moment that I will have to visit this place, and I will have to do it sooner rather than later. Yesterday when I reached home after work, I was very disappointed to find that someone e has occupied my parking. So I decided to venture out in search of the Book Store…. in quest of knowledge, so to say. But with my level of road sense it is never easy to find a new location and as I lived up to my expectation. Fortunately for me there is a roundabout very close to my house and so I could first go straight, and then right and finally left, every time coming back to the roundabout to change direction. After taking a few turns at the signals I could see the neon sign I have been so desperately seeking to find. At that moment I thought of giving a “Land Ahoy!” cry but restrained myself somehow. But all was not as smooth as I had to enter through the exit gate making “please excuse me gestures” to the car who was trying to go out through that exit. I was helped by a parking attendant giving signals with his hand quite similar to the boys who helps the pilot park his airplane. He actually wanted to wash my car to make a few bucks (they are usually an exploited lot and have to survive doing such odd jobs). He started to speak in broken Hindi and was very amused when I replied to him in Bengali and in the brief conversation that followed, I told him that my ancestral home was very close to where he is living now and it’s unfortunate that it is not accessible to us.

I went up to the Book store and was pleased to discover that it was more than a simple bookstore. They had everything starting from laptops to school text books and there was a big section dedicated to arts and other hobbies.
After spending a good one hour among those interesting products and picking up a city map and a few other stuffs, I proceeded to the checkout counter. I was running a bit dry on cash and wanted to pay using my credit card. To my shock I could not find it in my wallet and after settling the bill I almost took my wallet apart to find that particular piece of plastic. But it was not there... it was no where!! All sorts of thought started to overtake my thinking capability. I shuddered to imagine how much I would have probably lost if someone decided to use my card.
Then I remembered that last time I had used that bit of plastic was exactly 10 days ago, the day I landed in Doha and that was in a “Subway” outlet. Fortunately I did not take any wrong turn on my way back and manage to reach the “Subway” quite quickly. I went inside and asked “did I leave my credit card here?” and gave my name.” To my utter relief he retrieved it from the safety of cash box and handed over to me my lost and forgotten mate. I felt like giving them a hug….. As I drove back home I wondered if I would have got it back had it been another country… another time … So all is not lost in this world!!!
But as I reached home I found my parking spot still occupied. I found a spot a block away and as I prepared to hit the bed I realized that this is life……. Kabhie khushi kabhie gam … (joy and sorrow goes hand in hand)

These images have no relevance to this city and are borrowed from the WWW.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Modern Day Gypsy

Last few weeks have been very hectic for me. Tough decisions are always tough to take. It was not at all easy to decide to leave Dubai and go. The stay in Dubai was short but sweet. We had some of the best moments in our life while living in Dubai. But as it turns out I am only a modern day Nomad ……. a gypsy of the 21st century. I have tried putting up a home in so many times in so many cities in the past decade but could never stay long enough to grow my roots and that is the reason why I am able to relocate myself to a new place with relative ease. As they say that a rolling stone gather no moss… I am on the roll once again! I do not have any regrets in leaving that place, but I am a bit sad that I had to leave in such a short notice.
The boom of the past few years had attracted people from all walks of life and from around the world. There had been a mad rush in the past years to reach there to make a living and build the city. When I landed there, it was as if a grand party was in progress. The place was humming with all kind of activities. The streets packed with cars, the malls with shoppers and the restaurants with tourists. The city which glitters like a diamond every night is full of friendly people a bit preoccupied and busy with their own life though. But as it turned out, we were a bit late in reaching there. When we moved here from Kuwait, someone told me that the party was already over and the closing ceremony was in progress, and it turned out to be very true. But I believe that this is only a temporary phase for Dubai and it will soon get back to its former self and a new set of people will rush back to this city which never stops changing its skyline.
When I was offered this option of getting transferred to Doha, Qatar by our company, I took the hard decision to leave and move for the moment. The other option was to hold on to the fort and travel up and down to Abu Dhabi everyday and that was even more difficult for my set of priorities! So I had to come to this new country, new city and start fresh once again!
I have heard a lot about this place and everyone has their own opinion and view point. When I posted that “I am liking this place” in my FB, I received a barrage of reaction from my friends… so today being the day off, I took a “get to know the city” drive in the afternoon and clicked a few snaps. I am glad to see the West Bay skyline and the way it is developing further. I can now rest assured that I have arrived to witness another megacity in the making.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spot the real model

Few days back I had written about the living statues in my other blog A Slice of Art & Design. What a coincidence that a very similar technique was being used in one of the popular malls in Dubai last week. A few stores had come together with a Radio station (who runs a few FM channels in different languages) to host a competition. The competition was quite uncommon (I shall not comment if I liked the idea or I did not) for this city where there is a constant attempt to inject new ideas to promote consumerism.

This particular competition was called “Spot the real model”. There were a few (5 to be precise) model who were posing with the mannequins in the display windows of the stores spread all over the mall. It was exactly the same act as one of those living models. The only difference probably was that they were working under a corporate or a modeling assignment and not as street performers.
All one had to do to claim a prize (shopping vouchers) was to be one of the first three persons to spot the live model and run and report to the organizers. You would then receive a shopping voucher and you could also request your favorite song to be played over the fm station.

But for the models, it was not easy. Seating or standing there in a frozen state and people taking picture might not be all that fun. I may be guilty of taking this picture…. but I did it just for this blog. I tried asking for her permission before taking the picture using sign language. I took her silence to be her consent. Probalby I am mistaken.. probably they were enjoying the whole Paparazzi attention and were well taking in their strides. After all its all in a days work as they say.....