Thursday, 25 December 2008

R.T.O. – Choice number 13

Probably like any other country, a new motor vehicle bought in India needs a registration number- to be then plated on the front and back as soon as possible. This unique number is obtained from the Road Transportation Office - popularly known as Arteo here in Gujarat.

There is an amazing provision for richer buyers, which because of the way I look, speak and dress I was expected to avail- i.e. for an additional fee of just 650 Rupees I can get a unique registration number of my choice. Now, when asked which one I needed, I fumbled, because I didn’t have anything specific in mind. So, I conveyed I didn’t need any choice number.

I then thought harder, and realised that all the previous vehicles bought in my family had numbers totalling to 13. People say that this is an unlucky number and the least in-demand number. Doesn’t looks nice. So, looking to influence this, I asked if this total can be avoided. A simple request, but I am told in return that this cannot be ensured. Because, the computer generates these numbers randomly.

And, I will be given the registration number after two days.

Tell me, what can be done?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Shoddy journalism

Do you care if a hawker sold four samosas to a tourist for 200 dollars? BBC does. And many of the so called enlightened Indians too, who moan that foreigners are indeed vulnerable to cheating in the country. I think otherwise, but it’s a different matter.

The world famous BBC has a well designed web page which tries to be as resourceful as it can be. One of the features (on the right hand side) of any news item is a tag called RELATED INTERNET LINKS. I have found this useful many a times. Now this news piece too has an internet link. Where to? A centralised health care trust in Birmingham!


Probably, now, every English or BBC website reader must learn from the Dutch experience that samosas are unhealthy.

Read the full article, how the journalist eases off the matter towards the end.

Typical British humor which usually is unable to extend from the cliché of double meaning jokes, heavily draws its inspiration from either animal genitila or tatti-pishaab.

My point -

The fair is one of the solitary and beautiful events I think every admirer of a rural life should be proud of. See one of the links for description. Why do you think that these Dutch tourists went there? and probably the BBC reporter too?

Come on Bee Bee See - Gimme a break.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Need a break

Where does the busy working man (woman included) of today wants to spend his holidays? Either on tranquil camping, or in safari parks, or the hotel destinations? The modern man, seems doesn’t want to or cannot take it anymore to care about. He just needs a break.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Letter to god - India Temple Stampedes

Temple stampedes are common in India. The legacy now more explicit, thanks to the easily accessible news media of today.

What guidelines the government should, if it does, issue to the crowded gatherings? And, more importantly, to the institutions called temples? A nice and a respectable letter for the latter to put up signs, provide sufficient exit routes, or install loudspeakers to remind the mass that escape is easy if an incidence happens - and a stampede wholly avoidable?

While the current shame and blame game will continue, we will forget as time passes, and somewhere it will happen again. Also, chances are, this ‘nice and respectable letter’ will be seen as state's interference on religious matters. Meanwhile, the god, safe, smiling and pretending, has his right hand raised emitting the unseen aural beam. Bend, is trying his best. He has his table tennis racquet, desperately trying to deflect the beam -
- Ping : Shouldn't the health ministry draft a memo and issue it asap?
- Pong : Or does the mass needs a divine intervention in the 21st century ?
- Ping : Is there another better way to deal with this?
- Pong : Just needs some common sense from mass and priests?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Made in China

Nowadays, wherever I go to a new city to visit , let it be Los Angeles, Dubai, Rome or Delhi; I would, by-default, step in some or the other souvenir shop to have a glance what they are selling. Time would pass, and 5000 years later when the earth's plates would have shifted considerably, the archaeologists (or, as I prefer to call 'cosmico-archaeologists') would be coming back to earth to trace civilizations, and gather facts to clarify their current debate whether once they inhabited it or not; on digging would find a few inches big Taj Mahal, or Al Burj hotel, or the miniature Hopi Indian or lord Krishna or Big Ben. All having solidly engraved in them – ‘Made in China’.

Monday, 6 October 2008

An evening in England

Uniform grey sky,
from north to south and up high,
purple and brownish houses,
in silver screen left and right,
some splinters of red or blue,
a stray yellow somewhere in sight;

could have looked different,
but there aint any light.

Some droplets escaped the clouds,
difficult to sniff new air,
for a brief the sun shines,
confirms something has to exist,
right now it's bad luck,
one up head other right here,

only rescue this pub,
warm inside have some beer.

Ugh, I get some variation,
the only one perhaps,
historical but a well adapted,
system of class,
curious looks,
rednecks with their fags,
sophisticates with neck low,
either their apologies or their amuses,;

Chinese busy making Thai meals,
A Pole delivers the pizza,
Running north to south,
T (soft) thank you for a tip he didn’t expect,
The curtain falling,
Indian eating,
Weekend’s closing.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Adding to the wishlist

I wish I was a blog left blank…

With thanks, to, Pearl Jam

Friday, 26 September 2008

Rocking! Really?

Salman Khan and many in Bollywood, from somewhere have learnt this new word - 'Rocking!'. They blatantly use it to suggest something exciting coming onto their way. For Sallu, 'rocking' is to get onto the stage and thrust his hips in sync with other ten or twenty with him. While his feet thump the floor with electronica beats, he covers his left ear with his left palm and stretches his right hand horizontally to draw an imaginary arc. His funny face changing expressions from shock to awe, to itchiness to pleasure. Also, now Rakhi Sawant is hyped to dance as a cheer girl in the coming IPL cricket season. Phew! God bless America for you and me.

Friday, 19 September 2008


Movie screens are amazing. They show you exactly how the 'Terminator' evaluates an unknown object or a stranger which suddenly appears in front of him. On the left corner a single row of equalizer type lights blink in sync with loud beeps, and a harmless laser beam is thrown on the object. A few seconds later, all the equalizer lights are green, and underneath appears the text 'FRIEND'. The Terminator draws his guns back into his holsters.
So, if you are as you are, a feeble human, without any weapons, appear in front of Mr. Terminator, he will quickly judge you as his friend. Simple ! But what happens when you encounter this specie called 'Determinator'? He/she is an adult human, wears ordinary clothes such as a jeans and a shirt, works and lives in the same society as you do. And then when a stranger suddenly appears in front, the invisible antenna feeds an input signal into the subconscious, and the back of brain starts evaluating - black or white? - rich or poor? - speaks English or not? How much rich? Beep Beep...No answer. Not a friend.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

A Nomad by Choice

Wilfred Patrick Thesiger was a man I admire, because not only he reinforces my thoughts that freedom is found in empty deserts, I could see myself as a shadow walking word onto next word underneath his lines in one of his travel memoirs ‘Arabian Sands’. Amongst many unbeatable moments in this book; the penultimate para (in verbatim below, since, is easy to locate), knuckled a soft blow on my balls.
After a long trip in timeless waterless deserts for nothing material, it is the final goodbye time with his tribal friends cum guides in one of the British barracks:
On the last evening, as bin Kabina and bin Ghabaisha were tying up the few things they had bought, Codrai said, looking at the two small bundles, ‘It is rather pathetic that this is all they have.’ I understood what he meant; I had often felt the same. Yet I knew that for them the danger lay, not in the hardship of their lives, but in the boredom and frustration they would feel when they renounced it. The tragedy was that the choice would not be theirs; economic forces beyond their control would eventually drive them into the towns to hang about street-corners as ‘unskilled labour’.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ping Pong is Coming home

Thank you Boris (recently elected London Mayor) for the belly grabbing laugh I missed for years. See below his speech after he returned from Beijing with the Olympic flag...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

An expensive hobby - Photography

Got a camera, live in the UK, and look like an Indian? * Well, then you could be a terrorist. Nothing serious if you are not one of those spreading hate, and not really meant to be prosecuted as one, but it is highly likely you will be generally questioned on the basis of this little doubt.

The incidence was a slight wrong coincidence when my mind assumed that the cluster of lights leaking through the coarse voids of a dense shrub looked beautiful, and then on top, a heavily improbable coincidence that the cop car zoomed past. The two cops, well communicative, and nicely spoken told me it was nothing personal and they want to be really polite (!), but in the recent climate, and under the terrorism act which has some number 41 to it, they are bound to stop and question me. We talked a little, he took my details with my full cooperation. Surprisingly he didn't ask me to show the picture I took.

Or, the other coincidence can be just me, just me, an individual who always has this luck, whether at home India or the foreign UK that he gets caught and questioned by the cops... Kyon bhai kya kar rahe ho!
*Just found out . Looking like an Indian is not an issue anymore. Anybody, even the local Brits are stopped from taking random pictures.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Misinformed, misread, mislead

The globally recognised Indian author, A Roy, said - "It's high time India needs freedom from kashmir as much as Kashmir needs freedom from India". In response, the Indian minister, retorted - "This author is like a loose canon who likes to misuse her liberty and freedom of speech". Now I wonder, who should the Brooker prizer go to? Since the decade old Brooker in available for grabs, I chance (equipped with the power that a democratic system offers me to think), and say, "Sometimes I hate the news media as much as I love it".

One can clearly see that how much the Kashmir issue has been raised to unassuming proportions by the Indian media, when the world media I found was too busy with the Olympics, Georgia conflict and ones of their own. After all, like me it is the banner of democracyness they operate within. Interestingly, if you noticed, this news is mostly being read by Indians who outnumber others as the best value consumers. But to my dismay, I am surprised that apart from a concerned few in letters to editors no one is talking of the principle of Secularism that the Indian union stands for. Take notice, this secularism does offer the space to the people and the air in Kashmir they badly need.

People in Kashmir want to get on with their lives, but who would let them do so. It doesn’t happen either in Iraq or Afghanistan or Georgia, or Tibet, then why should Kashmir be a special case? In Iraq, the troops vouching for democracy are building newer and higher walls everyday so they can manoeuvre more easily to claim things to be under better control. And the media loves to distinguish between Shia, Sunni, Shitte, instead of highlighting the complex cultural intermingling with which these communities have progressed since ages. And look here, in Kashmir where the media won't think twice before distinguishing between protestors as Hindus and Muslims. Today the division is between Hindus and Muslims, tomorrow it will be one sect of Muslim with other… and then will come professional divisions, and so on till we don’t have anything more to divide us and a brother starts hating his sister.

In Cassavets movie
"Opening Night", Gena Rowland protests to her stage writer that the play delivers everything, except one thing. And that is “Hope”. A not so appropriate example to transfer here, but the word "hope" is at least. And dammit, we thought it was there in Kashmir a few days back. Wasn't it?

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Bihari Babus in Dubai

Walking in the old part of Dubai is still as peaceful and tranquil as it must have been in the older days. It was another hot friday afternoon, and could have been totally unbearable if I hadn’t had stuck to the shades which the clutter of buildings genuinely offered. Every man who I asked for Diera bus stand pointed his finger straight, and with confidence said, “just up ahead”. Soon I got fed up, for I had been walking for an hour or so and old city limits had more or less ended. Recent newer buildings had started dominating and I decided to stop for some chai sutta just outside the construction gate of Union Square underground station.

Just a few steps away, I noticed two men with their yellow helmets engrossed in some casual conversation. The one who was curiously listening had his helmet held between his left waist and arm, and seemed was comfortably resting although he was standing. The vocal one was leaning with his upper back resting on the road-sign pole stuck firmly into the futpath. They had their one elbow bent because they both held their white cardboard cups close to their lips, just about to take their next sip of tea. I took a few strides closer to them and asked if either of them knew the directions to bus stand, and also subsequently, where they were from. The vocal one turned towards me, smilingly he said, 'Bihar se'. He seemed eager for a conversation, so with a few hand signals and words he explained me the way to the bus stop, which I realised was so close to my office and I saw it everyday. Yes, everyday, and I knew where it was!! I think it was just the heat. Then he asked me where I was from, and I told him that I am from Gujarat but originally from the hills of Uttaranchal, but he is free to assume that I am a Bihari too. After all we both worked for the same construction site! Also, I must admit that there was a common wavelength. He seemed glad too. Then instantly came L.P. Yadav in my mind and I started praising his recent achievements, one of them being how he wittily handles the opposition in the parliament nowadays. But in our conversation in next fifteen minutes he nearly convinced me that it’s only because of Lalu that Bihar is so far behind. A man whose illiterate wife becomes the caretaking chief minister, a man who never cared about real issues when in power, and so on. The new chief minister is much much better. The other guy, also a Bihari just watched, and nodded, but it seemed he agreed to us both. The talk was going towards politics in Bihar but my mind was thinking something else now. Confusedly, I thought- inspite of all the global cry about construction workers mistreated in the UAE isn't this Bihari much happier here? There are Bihari's all over in India working as migrant labourers. Their working conditions aren’t any great and look how they were treated in Assam and Mumbai recently! Either gunned down by ULFA or humiliated in streets by Bajrang Dal. Now I expressed I should proceed on my way. We exchanged see-yous and asked to take care of one-self. I started towards the bus stand which was my only gateway to escape out of Dubai for some time.

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Mallu equation of Muscle Drain

One Dubai morning shower was very enlightening. I completed a statistical calculation in say, 5 minutes, and that too - with conclusions. While I prepared for another day in Dubai with the medium pressure shower sprouting on my head, the thoughts of my Malloo brothers I could not avoid seeing everyday encroached into my head. Right from my apartment attendant, to the car park usher, the cigarette vendor, to my cadd draughtsman, the office boy, the janitor in the mall, everywhere, they were a part of my life. Of Dubai’s 2 million (UAE is 4.5 million), I could easily estimate that around 1 million are Keralians. The thick droplets of water woke me further and I recalled their well respected commie government, elected by some 40 million in India, boasts of a literarcy rate of near hundred percent. I had always thought of Kerala as a model for the whole country - because, almost everybody’s a literate in that state!
Strictly classified as guest workers who should leave one year after their work visa expires, with choice of visa renewal thats easy, or no choice, they carry on living here, working here. Now, note that these guests neither spend their incomes in their home land nor are able to send any money back. They seldom earn any extra and indirect taxes are paid indirectly to Sheikhs. So, one has to ask the Kerala government that what’s the use of this figure boasting when it cannot help its own surroundings and its own people end up becoming some neo-postmodern slaves somewhere else. This literacy which is no qualification and mostly parochial, looks like some mechanism through which one gets visas for lowly paid jobs. So, now, keeping whole of the Gulf in mind, please bring down your literacy usefulness figures down to 95% .
With my sleepiness diminishing and senses rising, I could also conclude how it has been statistically ensured that half of the Middle East’s population is technically literate. And ready to do any damn job!! Bharat Sarkar ne muft mein Gulf Ka theka le rakha hai (A zero fee contract taken up by the Indian Goverment for Gulf).

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The badly treated lot - A Lot

This article in the timesofindia clearly highlights the misery and discrimination which the Indian (and subcontinent) workers face in the Gulf. I was in that part of the world for a few months and didn’t need any extra effort to notice the rendering of exploitation on the sketchy building plans of the new Middle East. More than a million Indian (and subcontinent) hands are used in building the newer glass towers and service for the ones that exist now. Sadly, about a hundred of them could not handle the pressure and killing oneself was an easier way out.
Go to any city in the UAE and you will see Indians all over – most of them wearing lungies, obviously because of the heat and humidity. As an Indian I never felt alone here - there were so many of my kind around that with a few meeting eyes I could easily gather modest acknowledgment and silent hellos. The same subtle way in which this place must have traditionally communicated once. A simple just mind at first will ponder that what could be wrong with this place, or the people here which provides employment otherwise difficult to find at home. Why as reasonable Indians should we blame someone else when after all it was our own choice to go and work there! Well, the problem is- that most of the jobs are neither genuinely dignified nor do pay enough. They are indeed miserable. On top, passports are detained and few months salaries withheld by the employer so that the junkie doesn’t runs away. A simple disarray of some work arrangement at the construction site or the tea shop, and the hired worker is hurled loads of abuses by the white clothed or skinned. The principles of human rights, rights, respect to fellow humans, meaning of democracy taught to me in childhood here is slammed like a sham on my face. Nothing like this exists in Middle East. Sometimes it feels middle ages out here and I learn that I may have learnt quite useless things in school.
I haven't yet mentioned who are the ultimate arseholes in this chain of debauchery. I will turn towards India (and the subcontinent) and point my finger on the employment cum travel agents making huge bucks of each man sent out, by lying to him about work conditions and pay, then capitalise on his money and put him in a debt trap. Is there some reason apart from a political one that such agents and their shops exist? I am sure, at least a thousand can be easily located in Kerala or Tamilnadu. Apart from Clampdown, also clearly needed are consultation facilities for workers seeking work in Gulf about the realities they are going to face. Think about the number of people equivalent to a city living out there in Gulf. Isn’t it the Indian government’s duty to better equip its consulates out there as well?
I am not completely pessimistic, that nothing is being done. There are a few people active locally, but I feel their hands are tied and voices shushed. I never heard of any issue when I was in Dubai unless I poked my nose into the easily downloadable Human Rights Commissions reports. The commission’s website, unlike many others are not (rather could not be) locally blocked. India is the giant in the region, so it seems it has started to behave like a lazy one. Now and then in media I can read its sleepy wails and moans not to mess with our hardworking Junkies and they better be treated right. Recently, the Indian government stipulated and told the Middle East governments to double up the minimum wage. I also have heard of an additional stipulation where the Gulf employer would deposit 9000 Dirham (90,000 rupees) for each Indian worker hired. I don’t know how far are we from these, but these measures should be urgently implemented. This will undoubtedly not only save the Indians, but also the sanity and warmth of Gulf, which like old traditions this place could have potentially offered.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Two of yoU A E

Rarely outsiders realise that only 10% of this country's people are locals, i.e. the ones who dress in either immaculate black or immaculate white. Otherwise, rest of the population is either junkies from south asia or outcasts from europe. With the paraphrase ‘Two of yoU A E” (UAE can be expansible as yoU Asians and Europeans) I mean to refer to this country, which has conveniently divided itself into two extreme societies - one rich and one 'not rich'. There's hardly anything in between. I personally would have liked to avoid making such distinctions, i.e. the topic of this blog, but could not help. Go out in the streets for a stroll in Dubai and ask anyone. He will manifest that this difference is in fact the way of life here. And probably, the only way forward. Each man here sounds super clear when he tells me that the only reason which brings him here is money. Now I conjure that it might be either the ‘need’ of it or ‘want’ of it. It is funny because if one looks the way this money is distributed, the one who ‘wants' earns more and the one who ‘needs’ quite less. The yoU A E government has taken pains to define the minimum wages accordingly to the nationality. For a European it is around 25,000 Dirham and for an Indian it's 600 - yes, no commas. This is the law in theory, and in practice, as an example, in my own office the engineer from Philippines will draw only half the salary than if he was from the United Kingdom. Inspite of doing the same fucking job. Definitely, they will both have different lifestyles here.

One Indian shop helpboy told me he was given a wrong salary figure before he had left for this place. He gets only a half of what he was told - 600 Dirham a month (6000 rupees) and now reels in a debt of a couple of lakh Rupees - thanks to his agents in India. Now he plans to go back to Mumbai and work and hope to pay back selling VadaPav. Think why? Because, The pressure is rising... To One of these Two (the one who needs) the middle east governments were paying peanuts until now, but times have changed and they will have to dole out nuts double in size. Not only because they cannot offer anything else, the other reason is Dollar falling down, so is Dirham (UAE’s currency) that pegs itself to it. With inflation, things are getting expensive. So the lower earning group lives even more tighter. The other group only cribs feebly about this inflation which he realises when buying groceries in supermarkets.

This difference is very well reflected in the present lack of public transport. One hardly earns enough to afford the only available taxis. Buses are rare and run limited distances. Even though taxi is cheap here for the richer there aren't many around, and waving for one to stop is an effort that will easily build your triceps, accompanied with limitless perspiration and traffic smoke. Therefore, this richer group prefers to use the multilane roads to zoom by in latest Japanese models. So, if you are waiting for a taxi, wait alone and if for a bus, then in queues.

Interestingly and disappointingly, either group feels that the other is enjoying their lives living in foreign shores, and it's the luck that an individual has brought with himself. I suggest, if you are an Asian the best deal is to work as a taxi driver, so your own transportation problem is solved, and you will earn six times than your kind. If you are a European, then somebody has misinformed you - or maybe you are really sick of your own country? Apparently, both these two groups are here to work, not to live. In a country that visions itself as a top hotel and shopping tourist destination tomorrow. So, is there anything to expect from the rulers who lay such a strange vision for a country? Probably not.

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Latest Floods

This is important to be talked about. Rather, very important. If I write this with all my literary capacities as an article I would fail, because along with my naiveness it is too complex an issue ladened with miseries, so very difficult to contain when writing. Since only the floods are bad and rains are not, I think a poem will allow the thoughts to bind together better. And I hope I will find a street band to play this as a song one day. Here, I go -

What a shame!
The north of country got flooded again.
Something same happened in the east,
Where waters flowed like beast.

Who is to blame?
The people put it onto rain.
Living outside the country I realize,
How as people we fail, as humans we rise.

Why every year I read again?
Same newspapers, same story, same game.
Same beautiful pictures cleverly,
blended with misery,
doesn’t matters who suffers,
as long as it has the allure,
and some striking colours.

So, how much is the loss, and how much is the claim?
maybe some hundred lives or maximum a gold chain.
Ask me how I counted this figure,
I had met a construction worker.
Who like me was flood struck,
I was turning back but he had to go to work,
I was only some hours away but he was ages,
He told me he looses his few next daily wages.
Yes, but I could not ask or measure,
Life of some kids, who I came to know,
were siphoned through the gutter.

So, who plays this game?
Some officials rolling dices who clearly are so lame.
That rather than building some dams,
or making some good plans,
will buy some boats,
or will pull up registers to count dead goats,
dodging democracy,
even bureaucracy,
so we all can continue this hypocrisy.

So who else shares this responsibility same,
in a country where gods live we proclaim.
Where inevitable is imminent but we shall survive,
even when till the ears the waters rise.
Resilience of people, known the bestest in the world than anyone,
Calmly we wait for the next year to come.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Drive to the Oasis

Shamelessly small to be called a country, UAE infact is made of seven even smaller countries – also called Emirates. One of the least populated of these is Fujairah. Separated from the rest of UAE by the north of a mountain range ‘Al Hajjar’ (Arabic for ‘The Stone’) Fujairah is slightly different from other Emirates. When Dubai is burning 45 degrees (Celsius) hot, it is 40 here. Still it is the same desert that comes to mind offhand, only abundant with rocky outcrops forming its mountains and valleys, and on the east dropping into a beautiful blue ocean called 'Gulf of Oman'. Sandwiched between this awesome blue ocean on the right and the rugged mountain folds on left is a freeway sort of road, which 20 odd miles up north leads to Khor Fakkan - A sleepy town badly well publicised for tourist type water sporting activities. The capital city Fujairah itself, is imitating Dubai’s style of development, so like Dubai it also disappoints. There is a little salvation when you drive up north. Similar things happen – the stretch is suburban with concrete buildings, silently and boldly blocking the view of the ocean. Occasional glances during broad daylight hurt eyes and it seems that under the blazing sun these ugly looking concrete buildings will catch fire any moment. We are heading towards Wadi Wurrayah. I think, thats what it is called.

Just after crossing Khor Fakkan we leave the sort-of-freeway by taking a small turn to left. This leads us inside the rocky mountains. After a few miles, the landscape changes into bigger mountains and valleys. The rocks become wilder and stranger. Soon the paved road ends and a little further comes a point where it is not possible to drive the taxi. We temporarily abandon the taxi and the driver shuts off his meter so the waiting charges will not apply. This waterfall, according to Rafiq, is just after the small rocky cliff which we can see. Rafiq is a short lean underage looking immigrant taxi driver from the cold hills of Afghanistan Pakistan border. He is my voluntary guide and maybe he expects some money later. Driving taxi here doesn’t gets him the kind of money he was expecting to earn before he left his native for working in the middle east. Rafiq corrects me - we aren't going to walk the cliff but rather taking the vertical path down. It is an odd 100 feet high, almost a vertical man made track. We occasionally hold the warm rocks for support, and carefully sliding and slipping reach the bottom in no time.

Here, we find a couple of SUV’s already parked as we walk on the big round rivery gravel stones and head towards the oasis. At a distance, a bunch of some Arab youngsters are billowing fire in their full partying and barbeque mood. Also, at a distance I can see some random groups of people playing and jumping into some small puddle of water. The temperature because of the rocky and stony ambience is so high, that I can feel the heat going right into my head through my ears. My head, already light and numb begins to feel normal as we walk closer to the rumble of this tiny waterfall. The waterfalls waters fall on randomly arranged stone boulders backed by a cliff and ends into the pool at bottom. This is the oasis - for there exists nothing around in summers but this. The water is surprisingly chilly cold and very relieving. The source of water is somewhere underground in between the rocky pores.
This oasis is nothing giant but feeling the circumstances and the situation where it exists and water would flow perennially, many comparisons end. Further up on the waterfall stones, which looks like is naturally made for a man to walk through, the water is still and clear. The best thing to do here is to submerge your legs and then dip your head - everything becomes quiet. I could see a few centimeter sized fishes running for their lives.

Looking around I wonder, this impeccable group of Emirates so good in managing construction waste from their cities, why are equally bad in managing the plastics and bottles which the people just carelessly leave behind. After all it’s a small oasis - who cares!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Quote of the day (1)

A paragraph In Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert I just couldn’t stop thinking and laughing about again and again. In verbatim –
“When you worked for Dominy you were always terrified of the page-eight syndrome. If you handed him a memorandum and page eight was missing, he’d call your supervisor and say, ‘Get that asshole off the job. Put him in a hole someplace.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The Two of Lebanon

The first restaurant where I had my Dinner in Dubai was a Lebanese one. This, I came to know only after a couple of visits when my English colleagues I was going out with told me. This dinner fascinated me not only because the food plates were big and tasty but the naans and salads were on the house at the outset. I could keep chewing both and drink limited bottled water until the order could finally make it to the table. Communicating with the waiters is a big hassle –they never know how the food in the menu looks like - but never mind the food itself solves it. This is how a typical Lebanese joint is around. Walking into one is pretty easy since most of them are open air with plastic chairs and tables laid neatly in modules on wide enough footpaths. This revisited form of eating stayed on for few weeks till I figured out some more in the city and finally started cooking my own food.

Now, eating the home (self) cooked food I also watch a Lebanese channel in the local cable TV. Trust me my cooking is pretty decent now, also trust my claim that 60’s was a golden era for Lebanese movies. No, I haven’t seen even one completely but recently read about them. Only the logo on right top saying ‘LBC’ is probably the closest I could comprehend. Almost all the time slow paced and laidback movies are shown. Anyone lacking even a bleak idea of what Zee Cinema is is sure to confuse this with Bollywood. Good food and laidback movies- if a society can produce these two what can be more creative?

So lately, I have been learning about Lebanon. Moreover, I could not avoid it as it has started coming up regularly on major news channels. This time it’s about the civil war conflict looming over its head. By the way Lebanon is a really small country, shamelessly small with some 4 million populations to be called a country. It roughly has equal number of Muslims and Christians and that's why their parliament follows confessionalism – a form of government which has an equal number of seats in the Parliament for Muslims and Christians. But if you ask me to identify this distinction by looking at a Lebanese face I won’t have any clue. I only know about their movie channel, Dubai’s restaurants and that they are some two groups of divided two who are continuously in cold war and many-a-times shed some blood too.

Popular as the Gateway to the East from West, and vice versa, Lebanon, since the recent half century has been an open battle playground in the Middle East. The vertical axis of evil can be drawn here - right along the lintel of this doorstep- Bushtard on one side and Lowdaen on the other. Leaving the airport in London, I had thought that it would be interesting to be in a conflict zone with a lot happening around. But believe me, it doesn’t taste normal when you are right in the middle of it. It has subsequent miseries too – so much visible in Dubai. To ease this effect on me, now I am contemplating reduced watching of news channels- especially BBC 24, which all the time only moans about problems in the world, in its own self-righteous tone.
Alongside, I also wonder where this small and mountaneous country, which looks beautiful from afar has gone wrong.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

In the East of Middle East - Dubai

Slowly, everything had begun to get slower and I had begun to realise it. A fortnight back my Emirates Boeing landed in Dubai at 6:30 morning. Although everything was arranged, it took the clock to show 10:30AM when I finally stepped inside my room. This, despite the fact that the room was pre-booked and it was only a couple of miles away from the airport. No, I didn’t walk the distance neither was muddled in any traffic jams. Rather, if I analyse, it was a chain of few events that caused so. The fifth queue finally allowed me through the Emirati control point, and I had no emotions left whatsoever because the next thing I was looking for was my luggage. The other four queues could have been reduced to only one if the airport had some decent direction signs for low lives like me who come with a blue/black passport. Like a cool guy I had unnecessarily followed the arrows and came to know this at the immigration point. “Go there and get the Visa Scanned”. “Sorry?”. “Get it scanned”. “Sorry, where?”. “There, scanned!” There was nothing there - the finger pointed to a general end far back inside the airport. Low lives are supposed to get their visas scanned (i.e. stamped) somewhere there.

From the hotel pickup to the hotel staff, everyone was amusingly casual. After all they were all Indians. And also my office staff, not Indians this time, assumed that I ought to take it a little easy. I now realised that I am in the east and more so, in the middle of it. I didn’t have to rush to the office inspite of everything being arranged. So I took a nap.

Slowly with slowness, I have begun to assume that this is how things work here. Now writing this, I think I am getting used to this slowness and now don’t feel it anymore. The heat has hardened me and the humidity ripening. Arabian dust which is not that easily avoidable and the warm slow-breezy nights have something in the air. Inevitably, a good amount of carbon can be added to the list. Booze is an option if you believe in party time and shouting loud– here you will mostly find Mites from either Britania, Europa or some neighbouring countries of Arabia. The baton of the typical rock music that I grew up in my college days is now owned by Philipinos. In any such venue, or even the main roads, don’t expect not to be disturbed by the whores, who all look similar distinguishable only as either Pilipino or Russians. Otherwise easy chatters are available in plenty – just take a pause wherever you are walking and you have an option to talk either to a driver, watchman, construction worker, waiter or similar. Or spend long hours at work which will keep you busy, probably, and wonder what kind of life you are en(gulf)ing in.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Why is the 60,000 Waiver Misleading

What should Bend say? Reiterating my thoughts which I spoke earlier and my comments to Etla's article- in most of the newses I read lately that in spite of the Rs. 60,000 Crore waiver announcement, suicides aren’t stopping. 75 more casualties in Vidarbha (Raja Saheb’s work area) last month.

Bend fails to understand why everyone is linking the spate of suicides to the government’s much publicised recent loan waiver? It is still quite a hefty amount to be spent on each farmer even if 60,000 choose to die in coming years. The whole thing is not only immoral (quoted by Gurcharan Das) but also misleading.

Now, if this loan waiver does not totally relate to suicides, then it must be for some other reason. Will Mr. Chidambaram or someone enlightened care to explain?

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Holy Cow, Holy Christ

Vibrant Gujarat's chief minister Mr. Modi had another of his foreign trips recently. Sir went to Israel for a 3 day visit. So happens, some great inter-exchange of culture investments etc. Israeli dairy farms coming up right in Amul’s backyard. Also happening is guests Israelis shoved up after accused of obscenely dressed during Navratris. Patels too will have new bijnesses in place now. It's all happening, progress for both sides.

But hey!

Similarities resemble and debaters debate.

Sixty years ago the pure Aryans roasted a million Jews. Divide the figures by ten and move thousand miles south, the God fearing Hindus played their part by roasting the Mullas. Their same genocide leader now extends a handshake, and seems is happily reciprocated, by the descendants of the same decimated Yehudis. Also I can picture, sacred Hindu cows milked by advanced Jewish machines. Holy Cow or Holy Christ, Mr. Modi here has his chance to make some amends.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Kanoon Ke Kitne Roop

Filmistaan in India taught me that the law has 'long hands'; in USA it maybe 'claws'; in UK no Hollywood no Bollywood only 'Clause'.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good...

Pearl Jam, Yield

Today the harmless London suburban yobs reminded me of Altrincham - an extension of Manchester where I used to live a few months back. Every Wednesday (or probably Thursday, in case I am wrong) the town’s local newspaper used to find its way through my door’s brassy letterbox groove. At one such instance, the full front page of this newpaper was dedicated to the passport sized pictures of some eleven or fifteen young men. Relatively new to the town, I was intrigued. Here we go - the new local football team! Looks like a young one this time. But then! After a sustained look I find that all these faces have a slightly different expression. And then I read the large roman fonts, which I had clumsily missed earlier, explaining that the people shown is a list of law offenders who were failing to turn up in the local court. Chiefly, for petty crimes, therefore, ‘at large’.
Disappointed I was now - not with the boys (yes, literally boys) in the photographs, but with this sensation intended front-page scoop. How could, how could, in a small community like this the ever-righteous judges, these ever-critical journalists and the ever-responsible police could easily go ahead with publishing something like this? Isn’t this a little harsh and a lot insensitive? I thought that the whole aim of the law here was to reform a young individual than to blatantly demean him. No one is perfect, right?

Monday, 4 February 2008

Grains and Martyrs

I recently came across a statistic that more than surprising me shook me. “17,060 farm suicides in one year” said Sainath’s article: - . According to his article - since 2002, every 30 minutes an Indian farmer chooses to kill himself.

I can easily conjure that, somewhere on this planet, natural disasters kill thousands every year. I have also come across figures telling that approximately thousands in big cities are killed on road accidents every year. But what strikes me here is that these seventeen kilo suicides aren’t any fortuitous deaths. This is a choice that these men made, or probably, have been forced to make. We all know in India a farmer is synonymous to a simple man. But this shameful event continues. Shameful, not for one who aren’t there anymore, but for the appointed vigilantes who are supposed to protect them.

I have always been made to believe that India is a place about communities and sharing. India, an agricultural economy we should be proud of. A new wave of India rising. India, an upcoming superpower. So, are we really trying to define the India’s 70’s motto in fullest sense? Jai Jawan (aka. Long live the Soldier), so, Jai Kisan (aka. Long live the Farmer). Prove it to me that all this isn’t any hype.

Farmers have nowhere to go? ...Some more blogs...Click Here