Dec 16, 2009

An Abra Trip

The last time I did this, was when I was not driving a car in Dubai. No means of transport, buses were not my forte, taxis were too dammned expensive for daily use, and public transport in Dubai was and is shit. How do you commute.. Welcome to the life line of Dubai, the Abra.

I had vague memories of the Abra as I used to come to Dubai, once in probably five years. No one from Bahrain is interested to come in regularly, any ways. So what ever little you did, you either managed to see it or ride in it.

Move to Dubai, and with limited options and looking around for a job, with a need to even go to Deira, how best do you do it.. Ahaa.. You take a bus to a central point, walk up about 10 minutes to the creek, sit in an old boat running on a motor that runs under your seat, and with half your heart clutched in your hand (the other half in your mouth), you proceed. Five minutes, and you are on the other side. Finish your work, and back again the same way.

Get your licence a few weeks later, a car a couple of months later and bye bye Abra..  A mode of transport unique to Dubai, not used, simply because the car is so convenient. Flash forward, before you know it, a decade has passed and you have not set foot on it.

How did I land up there, simply because my nieces were in town, and we decided a unique experience would be the Abra.. Land up in Dubai, walk up to the creek and bang on.. there you are.. The same boats the same motor mechanism and off you go.. But differences exist..  You do not have the old stones any more.. I distinctly remember jumpingover stones nearly slipping on the wet rock, having no idea for the life of me, whether I would make it to the boat, or slip into the cold water.

Many a person has slipped, has fallen, however with time you overcome these obstacles and become a Pro.. After all with hundreds of people using this mode, and the error ratio below 1%, people were doing it right.

A trip down the creek, from Bur Dubai to the Deira stop and then onwards towards the Floating Bridge, underneath the Maktoum Bridge, with lights shimmering down the distance, it was a sight to behold. Memories flashed, the wind blew in the air, a cool breeze running through your hair, the water splashing across the sides of the boat, and seeing the fast lane running by, while we were using a transport mechanism at 1/10th the speed of the current day.. What can you say?

Words cannot express the feelings that one got, the time gone would never come back, however the memories remain. The blast of a time my nieces and my son had, has no price. A day of care free abandon, a day in the creek, feeling you are in the middle of the Sea, with no care in the world... Oh Dear, where did those days go??

Nov 7, 2009

We and our approach to our religion

I recently had two instances which set me thinking... 1) A community gathering in Dubai for Diwali and 2) A note by Jayant, as to why we go to the Temple.

The Community gathering got me thinking on the speeech by a senior member about the accomplishments of the Bhatia's and how we struggled from our Thatta days, and how the older generations made sacrifices and so on.. Very interesting hearing, however information that a lot of us know about. It is necessary I realize that we have to understand our roots, where we came from, where we are today and where we will be in the next generation.

That was not what got me thinking. What go me thinking was a comment that the people of today's generation are not seen in temples. The Youth are not doing the same that their parents and forefathers did? We do not see that many of our community members as we see from other communities.

Are we really not? As I think in retrospect and link this to Jayant's note, I have one question.... What have we done as a community to preach our religion and our belief in Hinduism to our children? What have our elders done to instill the importance of going to the temple on a regular basis? Why are we so scared to talk freely about our religion and why are our elders not willing to listen to a good debate?

 I may be wrong here, but I believe that it is as much the responsibility of our elders to enforce this into the younger generation so as to have this as part of our routine. Coming to the Temple these days is not for a meeting with God, but more as a chore should be done. I have wondered often.. Why do we see the South Indians coming every week? Why do we see the gurudwaras and the masjids being frequented by their respective communities, week after week. Are we ashamed to go to our place of worship? Or is it simply that we have no time? Or simply cannot make it?

There would be innumerable reasons on this, however the fact remains that we have ourselves to blame, be it the elders, be it the youngsters, or the new generations. It has to be a collective effort spanning across all generations and all have to contribute. The elders need to organize events where the youth come together and meet, have open discussion, debates and the key features on events (more on this on the next post). We as a community that is controlled and dominated by a few select group of houses, need to come out of or cliched viewes and have to learn to change. We need to be more aggressive and open minded to accept change as it comes.

If the change comes with the support of the elders, the community benefits.. If through the youngsters, it may start a revolution.. The worry is if it does not.. Like the Parsis, we too are headed for extinction.

Sep 18, 2009

Life With A Metro

One can only imagine the thrill of having a Metro in your town. More so, when the Metro is bang outside your house.

Dubai just went through it's own share of Metro mania when virtually the entire country was looking forward to a great launch. The day, the time, 09.09.09 09:09:09.. Virtually an unforgettable day. Fireworks, the launch by the Royal Family, all the bigwigs of town in one Metro train going from one point to another. The hype, the media frenzy, the countdown, you name it, it was there.

It is not every day that you see the construction of a Metro. More so, when it is done in a little less than three years. The sheer magnitude of the construction, the entire network in the sky, the jazzy stations, the people working day and night to ensure all stations are ready and functional, the drilling, the installation of the tracks, the mess that every conceivable road was in, the hassles and the pain of driving all around your locality just to get around to the other side of the road.. It was a horrible two years.

Come the magic day, people flocked out of nowhere.. Total chaos, pandemonium and the roof fell down. The excitement was unbelievable. Every where that you go, it is only the Metro that was under discussion. It was as if there is nothing else in Dubai... After all, it is not every day that you hear of a train line being set for nearly 50 Kilometers, and running without any drivers.

The ride was worth it.. We spent a Saturday going from Point A to Point B. Excellent infrastructure, lovely trains, an absolute gorgeous view of bulidings that you never see from close or you are above them. The smoothness of the ride, the comfortable rides all across the city, something that one always dreams of.

However behind this one could also see the failures of the system. The overconfidence that came crashing down as people management took a beating, the lack of basic processes, the lack of adequate infrastructure to manage the crowds, the manner in which people were taken for granted, the total ignorance displayed by people when arriving at the station, despite many of them having travelled in Metro's world wide..

A matter of both pros and cons.. The Metro was some thing that the city simply needed, however the total lack of planning and the manner in which Dubai showcases its assets, despite their worth not being what it truly is, boasts of an overconfident mind set, which time and time again comes crashing down. Nothing to take away from a great achivement in such a short span of time, however one could always sense, the hype is simply short lived.

Sep 4, 2009

Olden Days, Golden Days

Was discussing an issue with my Dad and Uncle, today and the discussion veered towards, how busy life had become, despite facilities becoming more and more.

A trip down memory lane brought up memories that there were no E_Mails, no Computers, no Mobiles and yet life went on. People worked hard all day, you type a letter, however there was no Tippex invented at the time. There was no concept of working remote, no concept of call forwarding, no concept of Blackberry's and mail forwarding, no concept of electronic house cleaning items, no concepts of digital cameras, or websites, where you could post photographs for all the world to see, no dvd's to watch movies at home, no one for all applications, not every one having cars to go to various places.. and so on..

Yet, there was one thing. Life though hard, did not have the tensions of today. Life though difficult was not a burden to go through the day. Life though simple, and people not having money, was good.

Where has that gone? I doubt it will ever be the same again, as man in his quest to improve, will make life more complicated than before in his quest to make it simple. Will we ever stop. Do we ever want to stop.

Brings back the million Dollar Question again.. Were the simple days the Golden Days for our parents. Are these days for us, our Golden Days 20 years from now?

Aug 15, 2009


What is it that makes all the best of bachelors go down the road of matrimony? Have often wondered.. we all say, looking at others, we will never do it.. come a time, we all follow suit. Some on our own count, some on count of our elders. But we all do it.

I guess my cousin is no exception. A guy fiercely independent of his freedom, always stating that he is his master, also bit the dust.. No one to report to, no one to get bogged down by, no one to keep on asking a person, what time will you come.. Yet, he got engaged. Of course it is too early to worry, these are just blissful days of enjoyment for two people who take a big commitment to spend the rest of their lives together.

No joke this, as this becomes the start of a change in life styles and processes which would never be the same again. Two people, both handing over their life in each others hands.. That is a major decision. That is the beginning of a new life, a new dawn.

Of course the eternal question always remains, what if we did not get married.. For starters, the world would have ended with Adam and Eve. And maybe considering the population issues that exist in the 21st Century, that might be a good option, however, I believe it is a road that leads to loneliness. The joy and the pleasure that one gets with the presence of a family, with people around oneself, simply cannot be replicated with any other form of relationships. This is also part of change that is so imperative in life, as with each new generation, comes new hopes, new challenges, new growths, that simply would not exist, if we were to continue as is.

Aug 9, 2009


Was reading a post put up on FB on Criticism and the note was quite interesting:

"When people criticize, they often reveal more about themselves than they reveal about that which they are criticising. Criticising often stems from insecurity. People feel the need to show their intellect or cleverness by putting others down. So, listen to criticism and if you respect that person, then heed to that criticism......"

Indeed, it led to a thought and some lively debates as to whether criticism is warranted, and if yes, to what levels. With this, I go back in time, when I was in school and as we grew up, we learnt as went. If you did not do your hw, you were punished, if you made mistakes, you were told off, if you did not listen to the teacher, you were made to stand in the class on the chair, if you still did not obey, you were made to stand in the corridor.. and so on..

Are these criticisms or forms of it? Is Criticism restricted to verbal onslaughts only? Does it exist in a physical form? Is it warranted? I agree on both counts, there are people who criticize simply as they know no other aspect in life. Their aim is to simply put up a snobby nose to every one, with the air, that they are and know the best. Every one else in life is a copycat of them or simply are trying to copy them. Other than probably being insultive, this category simply adds no value to a comment, but reflect their own insecurity and the fear that some one else might actually be better than them.

There are also people who do not tolerate fools and will criticize some one, simply due to the errors of the individual. While we are all human and people do make errors, there are some, who defy these beliefs and simply donot care. It could be a case of limitation of capacity of an individual, or simple carelessness, which in the long run costs every one money. These people cannot live without criticism, depend on others to guide them and fully deserve no sympathy.

Where does that leave us in today's world? Regrettably, as we have progressed in technology, we have in my opinion digressed in terms of growth of the people. We do not tolerate harsh words, we do not tolerate shouting at children, we have so many laws created by ourselves, that we are now bound by these laws, who are bigger than the very people who have created them. Have we inadvertantly lent a hand to create a generation that can only survive on speaking in diplomatic overtures?

Gandhi / Lincoln / Churchill are all students of the schools who grew from criticism and that drove them and their ambitions to great heights. Would the world have been any different, had they not embarked on the paths that they did?

May 6, 2009

My Visit to a Metro

It has been so long, since I last wrote, I was even beginning to wonder, would I feel like penning my thoughts? But the nice thing about writing is, it is like riding a bicycle. Once you are back, it is as if you never left it.

I recently went to Bombay or Mumbai as they now call it, after a span of a number of years. The initial thoughts were, how would one feel going back to a place, that you know actually is your home, but technically not your home. You never go there, but at the end of the day, one knows, that is the only place in the world that will welcome you with open arms.

The trip was memorable in more ways than one. The first feeling as I landed down the tarmac looking at all the settlements around me, made me wonder, will things ever change. As one comes out of the plane, the feeling intensifies. No matter that the Airport today is probably 50 times better than what it was. No matter that things today are more organized than they ever were 10 years ago. But the amazing thing was, once you come out of the Airport and smell the air, it is like you never left home. Nostalgia hits you and hits you hard. The feeling that this is your place, your home, your country, your people, is so overwhelming that you do not look at the faults that survive in the surroundings. The happiness that surrounds you, upon your return is so over whelming, that for a moment, there is no better place than the one that you are currently standing in.

As I spend my days, one sees life as can exist in no other place. People, care for no other but themselves, all with their own purpose in life. It could be just to earn enough to eat twice a day, it could be to make a million tonight. They care a damn about the person next door, no one has time to stop, but cometh a problem, they are more than your family.

Fly down the runway to an International airport, you see on your way down, the biggest slum in the world. Come out of the Airport, and you see Mercedes's, BMW's waiting to receive people. Walk a few yards, you see a person with the barest of clothes, with the least amount of bones that you have ever seen, hardly able to stand, asking for food. Walk into a Cartier showroom, buy a ring for a million bucks, walk out the store, bang outside is a wada pav stall, selling each for 10 bucks. Drive down the roads, people walking across from every where, rickshaws coming from every possible angle, it simply does not stop.

Settlements next to palatial bungalows, beggars outside posh houses, No one knows any one, yet every one knows someone. People don't make enough, yet every restaurant is packed. You live in a one room apartment, but your identity is where your apartment is. South Bombay is HS, the suburbs LS, irrespective of what you have. Come the time to enjoy a Pav bhaji, or a juice at Haji Ali, the gap simply disappears as you see both the rich and the poor rubbing shoulders with each other.

Does it have a culture, does it have a glorious past. Maybe not as much as the other states in India do. It is a collage of cultures, of lifestyles, of beliefs, of religions, and it simply imbibes them all, creating a unique blend that can simply not be replicated any where in the world. It never stops, it never runs, it is simply on the move. It accepts you when ever you come, it lets you go, whenever you want to.. Once it becomes a part of you, you can simply never let it go.

Mar 13, 2009

When Near Ones go far away

We all come into this world, crying, while people around us are laughing... We all leave this world laughing, while people around us are crying.. Ironic?? Age old saying, and we all go through it in our lives, at various stages, at various times.

I write this today, as I am simply at a loss of words, as to how life goes. One thinks, one knows it all, one thinks, one is for ever, one thinks, one has full control... And what does Life do.. A slap into reality.

The loss of a near and dear one is never easy to digest. And more so, when the person always has a smile as his personality trait. Enjoys life, has a zest for it. And if the person goes young.

I know and realize that every one who comes to this world, will one day leave. We would all like to stay back and so would we like our near and dear ones to stay back, but life must go on. We come with a purpose, we aim to achieve our goals, and we leave. We may come back in another form, in another shape, but life moves on.

The impact is more on the immediate family, the young ones, who suddenly feel rudderless. It is like having your shelter taken off your head, knowing it can never be replaced. Some people may stand up and move, some will be lost, for some the world would have collapsed.

However it is at times like these, that we need to put our grit in, and turn to each other for support and strength. Moments are interlinked. You have both, happy and sad ones. It is just how we manage to cling to them and the way we remember them, but do not let them run our lives.

Easily said, maybe difficult to follow, but I wish all those affected by the loss peace and the strength to see each other through this hard phase.


Feb 21, 2009

Saying Goodbyes

I have often wondered, what goes through people's minds when they say their goodbyes. Not the kind where you come back in two hours or in two weeks, but the ones where these are long term, semi forever, knowing that there are people that you may never meet again in your life.

It is quite a feeling, all the more, when you realize that you are saying goodbyes to people who you have known for your entire life and also who you know will be around for the next twenty, thirty years to a minimum.

I recently did that on my last visit to Bahrain as I went to close shop (as they say), when I shut down my house. It was quite eerie to say the least when you realize that it is not a house that you shut down, but a part of your life. A part which has been so integral in your growing up, a place that has been connected to you for decades, it is just you.

I grew up in Bahrain and spent my life there. My schooling, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, every possible step of life was there. Every where you go, there is an association with your life. The sand witch shop, the tea stall, the barber shop, the shoe maker, the cold store, the lanes where you are not supposed to go, the chai wala, the bookshop.. the list is endless.

I don't know if this was due to the fact that Bahrain was a small place, where every one knew every one, but I guess we all go through it. The difference is how many of us have to leave it all behind?

As I wound down the pieces, collated my belongings and moved them out, I realized that it was a piece of me that I was closing. Every where you go, memories flash back, every one you meet, reminds you of an incident in the past, making it all the more difficult to move.

What do you close, how much can you close? Can you ever close? I don't think so. You cannot close yourself. As I realized that, it became more easier to accept moving on. Time will pass by, people will come and go, and all that we will have left are memories.

I guess that is a down side of being on this side of the world, away from your own home, where you know that one day, you need to go back. You know it, but never accept it, saying it is a long way off. But one day, it comes, some times when you are prepared, some times, when you are not. And that is when you need to accept the pain associated with it.

We have lived here too long, for too many continued generations and this is some thing that we will need to accept. A plus is that the new generations are looking around to move to other countries and not be dependent on the Middle East, however I believe that brings another set of challenges.

However that is for another day, another time. Until that time comes, most of us would have said our goodbyes, some may never get the chance. I got mine, and am thankful for that. But if I ever had to live my days all over again, I would never trade the days gone by no matter, how many goodbyes one has to say.. I would do them all over again.

Jan 23, 2009

A new beginning

It has been a long time since my last blog, technically a year, and I did wonder as to why it took me so long to write. Lack of time, lack of interest or simply lack of topics? Not sure what it was, but as the saying goes, it is always nice to be back.

Was watching the inaugration ceremony of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States and could not but be awed by his presence. His poise, his commitment to change, his belief, and his will to ensure a change is something that rubs off on all. For me what made a difference was a couple of factors.

First, the very fact that the USA has elected a Black President over a white one, speaks volumes about America. As Cuba Gooding Jr. said, that one act proves that democracy exists.

Second the fact that a young President has been chosen over a war veteran and a legacy of the Cold War, confirms that most of the world is now tired of wars going over for ever. The world needs Peace, and not some war mongering President, who is probably just adamant to show that the US is the biggest military power.

Third, the expectations from the man. It is amazing what the world wants from Obama. Countries from America to Zimbabwe, all expect him to solve their problems. There has not been one person in a long long time, who has come with such huge expectations. The very fact that he is still standing strong and his wife supporting his very cause, speaks about Obama's guts and strength.

Last, a thought that does come across, when one sees a leader like Obama. Would we, India ever come to this stage? Would we ever be bold enough to make a change and select a PM who is young, different, and willing to lead his country into an unknown future?

Would we ever gamble on a Rahul Gandhi or a Priyanka Gandhi. Not to say there are no other leaders, but these two being the most prominent ones, would we ever gamble. Would our parties be bold enough to declare before the elections as to who the PM candidate is? The BJP for this reason should be commended. Unfortunately the others are first interested in dividing the population, getting the seats and then bargaining for power.

India has been referred to as the sleeping tiger. Will we ever awaken? Will we ever take the step of leading the world? Will we ever make a bold choice and make a change? Will we ever take a gamble? Who will do it? The old brigade, who we never want to leave, or the new generation on their own? A tough one in my view... Jan 2009

Jan 3, 2009

The Year in Retrospection

As another year passes by, one often wonders and mulls over the events that have transpired over the last 12 months, at times wishing some things were different or would have ended up in a way other than what they actually have.

As I mull over 2008 there are a lot of pluses that one comes across along with the negatives. The booming markets of the Middle East with construction at full swing, showing a development that few in their lifetime would have the chance to see, the finishing of some of the new wonders of the world, the Burj Dubai, the Palm's, oil touching at record prices, with markets all around the world breaking barriers by the day, the finishing of a Presidency term of a man, often described as the worst President of the United states, the winning of the first Black man to the most powerful position in the world, the amount of money people started talking about.. no hundreds of thousands or a millions, but only multi millions or simply in billions.. All going one faster than the other, leaving many people far behind in the race, wondering where all of this came from, wondering were they left behind?

As it came, so it went.. one brokerage house, that will be remembered for time as the one that brought the world down.. Ironically it was not the construction industry that slowed down, or the shortage of demand.. but simply bad financial management policies and the lack of transparency that was the cause of the crash. One would think that the US who has such high standards for financial management would have been the last place from where the problem would have generated, but not surprisingly that has been the place most hit..

The sub prime crisis, wiping out billions in profits, the failure of the Investment banks, bringing the mighty to their feet, oil prices getting wiped out by more than three quarters of their price, countries going bankrupt, destruction of stock markets all around the world, money disappearing in minutes, the job losses around the world, drop in demand and in economic growth, the millions dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the ascendancy of an incompetent to the post of the Presidency, the debt of the greatest nation on earth, the terror attacks in the heart of Bombay, and finally the impounding of the Gaza strip by Israel..

It does appear like the wheel of the cycle, what goes up must come down or the faster you rise, the much faster you fall.. It also shows how small the world economy has become, no matter what one thinks, we are all linked to each other. One gets a cold, others do too, some slowly, some faster. It took ten years for the growth, it probably took ten weeks to wipe it all out.. Are we wiser, are we smarter or would we have learnt any thing from this? I am not sure.. Things will pick up no doubt, the sun will rise again and there will be a silver lining once more.

How many will be there to see it, I don't know, but when it does, and if we do not learn, history definitely has a way of reminding people. It took 70 years since the last Great depression.. The next one may take half the time.