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.