Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

I can't believe that 2008 is round the corner. It just seems like only yesterday when I celebrated 2007's arrival. If I'm not mistaken, I remember expressing the same thoughts last year, the year before and the one before that. It appears that each year passes so quickly that even before we are able to catch our breath... another new year celebration is round the corner.

So a very happy new year to all of you who read my blog, and many blessings to all of you in the coming year.

May the year ahead be filled with peace on earth, happiness at a deeper level, desires fulfilled, goals achieved and dreams realised... may you have wonderful relationships with people you interact with, and may you find time to be a blessing to those you meet.

And let me end my new year greeting with these words of St.Paul that helped and inspired me in the year that has gone by. These words provided me with an incentive to love people like I've never loved before, and to do so with a different set of paradigm that proved to be life affirming and empowering experience. Besides with the kind of terrorism rampant in the world today, insane war mongering that goes on and senseless assasinations of political leaders, I felt that this passage is that much more relevant and necessary in the context of current news and events.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails

Not sure if love is the answer for 2008, but hey, it could be the necessary first step.

Chewing the couch potato

Back to my series of India essays. Just three-four more to go.

My five-year old nephew made a profound statement.

I was watching this news channel that will not be named because I'm in a good mood but let me just drop a hint: it is part of a global media conglomerate. How foxy can I get?

I had the remote in my hands and was busy zapping away, and then stopped at this particular news channel that I'm talking about and was watching it for a while. There was some totally insignificant event that was receiving the 'breaking news' treatment and I was aghast at this celebration of the trivial, so to speak. I shouldn't have been surprised because this channel is available in the Gulf through the Pehla platform and I've never had the kindest words to say about it.

My complaint has been that this news channel never tackles anything serious or substantive, and instead, gives importance to news events that are of tabloid-y nature. And just as I was watching one such insignificant 'news' (for want of a better word) and chuckling at the serious expression on the anchor's face that my nephew suddenly blurted out, 'they show cartoons on this news channel.'

I burst out laughing at my nephew's statement because, unknowingly, the youngster managed to get to the very heart of this issue. Of course, his interest was in the fact that he 'discovered' another channel that shows cartoons and was excited about telling me that, but I realised there was much more to what he said than just that whopeee comment.

Now why am I making such a big deal out of this?

Well, while in India, I've been watching a few of the news channels as well as some of the other entertainment channels, and one of my favourite presumptions have been shattered. Let me rewind a little. Back in the 80s when I was in Bombay for my higher studies, there was only Doordarshan, the government owned and managed television channel that broadcast entertainment programmes at a specific time in the evening, showed news that always favoured the political party in power and had a whole load of public service programmes that were badly produced. The channel was so boring that almost everyone that I knew hoped that television would one day pass into private hands so that the audience would, at least, be spared propaganda masquerading as news.

Now that was my presumption, too. I always thought that - and in a sense I still do - governments should not be involved in being gatekeepers to 'information'. There is a decidedly totalitarian ring to it that should have died with the Soviet Union but somehow still lingers in various guises even today. Alright. I'm going off tangent here and, maybe, I need to cover this topic in a separate post altogether. But that's the point. Like many others, even I felt that competition and diversity in channels might be the answer everyone is looking for.

In fact, at the recently held Arab Strategies for the Global Era - Fikr6 Conference, organised by the Arab Thought Foundation at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain from 1st to 3rd December 2007, most of the panelists at the media seminar were quite clear about the need to abolish the ministry of information in Arab countries. The reasoning was that such a ministry was irrelevant in this day and age, and that it should be revamped to serve today's needs.

However, a cursory glance at some of the Indian news channels made me wonder if this is really the answer to the problem. I'm not sure if detaching the ministry of information's hold on television in general and news, in particular, is really the sole solution. Apparently, if available evidence is any indicator, then, privatising the news hasn't really addressed the core issues as it should have. The solution, as it were, isn't really in who owns the news channels but rather in uncovering what really drives the editorial department of these news channels. It is in understanding these drivers will we manage to make sense of the situation, and provide the necessary explanation, as it were.

It is quite vital that we understand this focus especially in the context of India's possible emergence as an economic superpower in the 21st Century and to understand why major global media players are making a beeline to the country. Context is an apt word to consider in such a discussion because it helps in comparing the former scenario where only one government owned network ruled the roost and to see it in line with today's television scenario where multiple players are involved in seducing the viewer's eyeballs.

If we rewind a little, then, we'll see that not much has really changed. If in the earlier dispensation the government owned network pandered to the whims and fancies of the political party in power, then, today's private networks pander to the dubious monster of the market forces. In short, both pander and both do so to an amorphous entity whose chief duty in life is to be the network's prime source of financing.

The trivial approach to news that existed when television was Doordarshan revolved around the need to preserve an avenue for propaganda and ensure that a more agreeable and party-friendly perspective was broadcast to helpless viewers. Of course, truth was, often, a casualty in this kind of editorial approach and viewers missed out on views from the opposition benches as well as debates on really uncomfortable issues like poverty, inequality and injustice. These were not touched upon because such views would show the political party in power to be a weak and ineffective force, and hence only a rosy world view was shown as news.

The same approach is followed by the news channels that I talked about... their compulsions are different from that of the government media because their raison d'etre lies in ensuring that the channel remains advertiser friendly and manages to secure maximum viewers possible. Hence, the trivial news that left me exasperated was just another step in ensuring that the channel's TRP ratings remain high. It is assumed that sensationalism, dumbing down, sting journalism and celebrity worship are the easiest tickets to maximise viewers and, most importantly, maximise revenue as well.

So in a sense, not much has really changed if one goes only by what is avoided and not merely by what is tackled. Hard news that tackles uncomfortable realities are not given the platform they deserve because they raise questions that no one wants to answer. And in the unlikely scenario that these realities do get a platform, then, it is done so with a dose of sensationalism, sound bites, visual bites and all the razzmatazz possible.

At the end of the day, it is all about preserving myths. If the government owned Doordarshan managed - rather clumsily - to preserve the myth of the ruling party's success, then, the private networks that survive on the advertiser's purse strings adopt slick methods to preserve what constitutes their own favourite myths. Hence, issues like farmer suicides, rich-poor divide, dalit problems, ill-effects of consumerism in rural India (and for that matter in urban India as well) are not given the importance they deserve because undue focus on these issues would simply sully the myth of an economically resurgent India.

Now let me add that when I'm using the word 'myth' I'm not using it as a 'fairy-tale' or some such thing, but in its other definition of being 'an exaggerated or idealised conception of a person or a thing.' In this context, it is necessary to clarify that I'm not casting any doubts on the Indian economic success story but raising concern that in the rush to praise this success, other realities are not seriously looked into. It is important that they are examined because not doing so - or doing so half heartedly - will have negative repercusions in years to come.

It is rather sad that private news channels that possess the means to do something about it are not doing enough. There are talented journalists who can do the necessary reporting, and there are scoop worthy stories waiting to be written and broadcast... so why the hesitancy?

I've already answered that question, and so I won't bother repeating myself. It's just tragic that even someone as young as my nephew managed to discover that there is no news in these news channels.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The late Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto is dead. A suicide bomber decided to blow himself up, and in the process, kill this young and dynamic political leader and weaken the democratic movement in Pakistan. It is a tragedy at many levels. On a more basic level, a wife, a mother, a daughter has lost her life but on a more broader scale, it has added a degree of uncertainty not just to the elections but, also, to the possibility of democracy returning to the country.

It is still not sure who the assassins were, and it could be anyone at all. Some have placed the blame on President Musharaff and his supporters in the military, but I find that hard to believe. I don't think anyone in an official position would be so brazen about his distaste for an opposition leader and come up with a 'final solution'. Of course, this is not always the case because Benazir's own father was 'hanged' by the legal courts of the late Zia ul Haq and though I was a youngster back then I do remember reading in the papers that no one quite believed in the verdict.

But all said and done, Benazir's death seems far more tragic than that of her father's. At least, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto lived longer, made mistakes, had time to reflect on them and even pass on his legacy to someone else. Benazir was not given this opportunity. Perhaps her years in exile gave her enough time to reflect on the corruption charges and other mistakes that she made, but now we wouldn't know. If she was elected, she could have been a much better and more effective prime minister and maybe, even toned down her stridency and softened her shrill rhetoric but that, again, is left to conjecture.

This is, exactly, why suicide bombers and assassins irritate me the most. They rob a person's potential to be what they could be, and instead punish them for deeds that may or may not have been repented of, and even, deliberately erased from the person's moral landscape. These assassinations operate on a premise that the assassin exists on a high moral ground and has the sole prerogative to decide that the targeted person is unworthy of second chances.

Benazir Bhutto was young. If she had lived longer, she could have been a better politician than before and, maybe, even a more successful prime minister. But we'll never know, and that's the real tragedy. And till then, it is Pakistan that will suffer the most and the assassination will provide greater incentive for the military to remain in power and delay any possibilities of real democracy being firmly established in the political landscape. Emergency might be re-imposed for the greater good, and who knows, even martial law might be introduced to preserve peace and harmony or some such thing.

It's just that it is so easy to expect the worst, and let's pray that it won't be so. After all, when such crisis occurs, it is not the ruling elite who suffer the most, but it is always the ordinary people who battle each day to make ends meet. These Pakistanis deserve better, and let's pray that they do.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas... and some peace, too

Let me give a Christmas break to my India essays because, well, it is Christmas after all... and soulful pondering over larger issues that matter can wait for a day or two.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, a city that was occupied back then as it is now even two thousand years later. More things change more they remain the same? It is amazing that Christ - the Prince of Peace - was born in a place that was torn by violence, and the current history of his place of birth is no different. Violence seems to have taken over the narrative and peace-mongers are deemed unfashionable by numerous people.

It is in this context that Christmas seems so relevant - and yet strangely out of sync with current trends. Christ's message of love, peace, forgiveness, mercy find no takers and those with the loudest voices seem to be screaming words of hate, revenge and war in the highest decibel possible. In many ways, their message appears to make sense because they appeal to those whose world-view is limited to the immediate. However, we need to question this premise and ask... is this all there is to it?

Christ has said, 'those who live by the sword die by the sword', and our news provides ample evidence of this to be true. Those who initiate war and terrorism may appear strong and fierce, but it's a hollow triumph they celebrate because they are caught up in a vicious cycle of violence. And they do not even seem eager to think differently because they are victims of their own lopsided and violent paradigms.

Now just to give you some context as to why this war mongering makes no sense, let me just list some statistics here and you can make your decision.

The global military expenditure has been $1,100 billion (rest of the world: $500 billion, US: 623 billion, China: $65 billion, Russia: $50 billion, France: $45 billion, UK: $ 42.8).

Now I'm not interested in finger-pointing at individual countries and asking why they are so obsessed with their military expenditure because I'm sure strategic compulsions are the driving force behind this budget. However, let's try and look at other statistics, too, and see if money could have been spent better elsewhere.

Here are some facts on hunger that should make interesting reading:
+ 854 million people across the world are hungry, up from 852 million a year ago.
+ Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes--one child every five seconds
+ Today our world houses 6.55 billion people.
+ In 2004, almost 1 billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than $1 per day.
+ In the developing world, 27 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely underweight. 10 percent are severely underweight. 10 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely wasted, or seriously below weight for one’s height, and an overwhelming 31 percent are moderately to severely stunted, or seriously below normal height for one’s age.
+ In 2006, 4.3 million people become infected with HIV and 2.9 million people died of AIDS.

Now we are often told that poverty breeds terrorism, or rather, those who live deprived lives find it easier to resort to terrorism of any kind... just to better their lives. Obviously, I don't agree with this premise, but I do feel that if $1,001 billion are available for military expenses... suppose even a fraction of that amount was diverted towards health care, education, food production and distribution and other poverty eradication methods... would it make any difference?

On that note, let me wish you all a very merry Christmas... and may the Prince of Peace rule the hearts of policy makers and decision makers so that we can, together with the angels sing: peace on earth and goodwill to all

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cafe Déjà vu

One of my favourite spots in Bahrain is the little corner at The Coffee Bean in Juffair where I take my little Macbook, browse the net, do some work, read some magazines, meet friends or... simply sit back and enjoy their wide selection of tea, coffee and muffins or biscoti. It has to be either of the two because, well, dunked biscotis taste yum, and muffins are muffins after all.

Costas in the new Seef mall extension or the one in Adliya are other favourites and Starbucks in Juffair comes a close third, but since the place is usually very noisy I don't mind giving it a miss whenever I can. But all said and done, I enjoy these places for the sanctuary they provide in the midst of the hurly burly of life aka the average working week.

Hence, during my trip to Bombay and Poona, I had to seek out some of the local variations since none of my favourites have opened their outlets in India as yet. There is a talk of Starbucks making a presence in the near future but I've no idea as to when it will be, or if at all. In any case, I'll be curious to know if Starbucks' entry manages to upset the coffee-shop applecart, which seems to be currently dominated by either Barista or Cafe Coffee Day.

And so, one Sunday night, when I realised that a particularly urgent assignment required my attention, I decided that the Cafe Coffee Day outlet near Ferguson College in Poona would provide the necessary ambience. After all, the previous night that I was in Bombay I had gone to Barista for a late night cuppa with a friend and I wasn't disappointed. There is nothing more comforting than sinking into a plush coffee shop type sofa and get absorbed in one's work.

And it was then that it occurred to me. Just like that. Right there in the coffee-shop while I was sipping my Assam tea and typing away my assignment. My eureka moment without the need to streak.

I realised that the reason why I felt a familiar tug while sitting in Cafe Coffee Day, or for that matter, in Barista, was because these outlets reminded me of Coffee Day, Costas and Starbucks. This sense of déjà vu was made possible because there was the same manufactured comfortable ambience, same type of desserts and drinks, same type of attendants with their well rehearsed glee, and even the same type of fashionable looking crowd sitting around as if they own the place.

Of course, this was not an original epiphany.

It was in Edinburgh, while sitting in a mall not far from Princes Street, that the idea first occurred to me. The mall had the same design elements that one sees in malls the world over, and even the retail outlets included the usual suspects one finds in high end malls anywhere at all. I realised that I could be in a mall in Bahrain, Dubai, Hong Kong, US or even... Bombay or Poona, and not necessarily, in Edinburgh itself.

Delhi based writer and consultant Anita Vasudeva described this phenomenon quite accurately when she called it a 'global samedom' in an article posted on Caferati. This sameness, one must agree, provides a template for the sense of déjà vu one experiences while dining, shopping and travelling anywhere in the world. For some people, it is a good thing because it introduces the familiar in strange lands. But on the other hand, despite the merits of retaining a homogeneous sheen to the urban landscape, it also takes away a sense of individuality and uniqueness that would, otherwise, characterise any city.

Maybe I'm being unnecessarily critical of these 'sameness-es' because, after all, there is a marketing rationale behind it, and this 'sameness' helps in maintaining a singular message in corporate communication vehicles and, also, in strengthening brand properties globally. Consumers benefit from this approach because it helps them identify their favoured brand and speed up their purchasing decision. So far so good. But does it really happen that way? Are people actually given more choices? Or are they limited by a few brands that simply possess the resources to have that massive reach? What about smaller brands that might be high on quality but lack the means to go global? Should they die on the altar of sameness while we explain their demise on the old Darwinian dictum: 'survival of the fittest'?

I'm not sure what would be the most convenient answers to these questions, but I couldn't help having mixed feelings while travelling around Bombay and Poona. An Indian in Bahrain had told me a few months ago, 'oh you could everything there now', and everything meant all the big brands that we are familiar with. My first reaction was, does that mean there is progress? It is true that Indians in India have embraced consumerism in a big way, and their shopping basket includes much of the same brands that people the world over purchase. I suppose the Indian in me would love to see more Indian brands making a huge splash and possessing the same popular appeal like, say, Toyota, Sony or even Coke? Perhaps that day will have its moment of glory and, maybe, Tata's deal with Land Rover and Jaguar might pave the way for Indian companies to go global more aggressively... who knows?

However, all said and done, will it be possible to retain some individuality in the process, at least, in customer service? Why should attendants in Cafe Coffee Day resemble their counterparts in Starbucks or Coffee Bean? Why should diversity create more of the same?

Only time will tell, and till then, let's enjoy the latte.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bombay goes dark

Just when one got overwhelmed by all the noise, grime and the frenetic pace of life here in Bombay, here's a ray of hope that somehow restores faith in humanity.

Tonight, from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm, a group of people have initiated a 'movement' to increase awareness on global warming. What they have planned to do or, rather, what they hope to achieve is to get all the Bombayites to switch off their lights for one hour.

Apparently, HBO and Channel [V] have, also, agreed to go off air during the entire duration of this hour. Let me just copy paste some information from the website because it would explain things a lot better than I can.

Batti Bandh is an entirely voluntary event taking place on the 15th of December between 7:30 & 8:30 p.m. This event is aimed at requesting all of Mumbai to stand up for a cause that is greater than all of us. All you need to do is switch off lights and appliances in your home, shop, office, school, college or anywhere you are for 1 hour to take a stand against global warming. Just 1 hour.

What will this 1 hour do? This 1 hour for just 1 day is not our only aim. This 1 hour is to set an example to the world, to every person who witnesses it, to show that together we can make a difference. This 1 hour will save a lot of electricity as well as pollution and if done regularly can go a long way in reducing pollution that is released by electricity plants as well.

We were inspired by a similar event recently held in Sydney, Australia, called Earth Hour. In Sydney, 2.2 million people participated. Their one hour of lights out meant that 24.86 tons of carbon dioxide were not released into the air - the equivalent of taking 48,613 cars off the road. We are a city of more than 20 million people. Let this number be motivation enough to show that we can make a difference. Unplug Mumbai. Do this for every child who otherwise will never have the opportunity to witness snow capped Himalayas or the glorious tigers and lions or the sun kissed beaches of Goa. Because if we dont unplug from our ways now, nothing will remain the same. Batti Bandh.

For those who are unfamiliar with Hindi, batti bandh means 'lights off' (batti: bulb, bandh: close)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Indian impressions

I am visiting India after three years, but it seems like a completely different place than what I remember in 2004. There is an enormous energy resonating all across, and the enthusiasm is almost palpable wherever you go. Alright, now that sounds like a superlative but so far I've only been to Bombay and Poona and I've felt the same excitement in both the places.

Obviously, it doesn't make sense to draw conclusions about a country by a mere visit to two cities, but these cities did give me a peek into what the country is all about these days, and its future direction as well.

My last visit to Poona was in 1990 or thereabouts, and though it was a big city back then, it still had a somewhat laidback look about it. Lot of bicycles, motorcycles, few cars, lots of greenery, but now there were very few bicycles and so many cars jostling for space and traffic jams that were causing bottlenecks almost at every major traffic signal.

Bombay is no different to this situation as it has been a big and prominent city for a far longer duration, and most Indian cities appear to hold 'Bombay' as their benchmark. Whether or not that is a wise thing to do is a matter of conjecture for urban development professionals because, for better or for worse, most cities seem to imbibe the worst of Bombay and forget to imitate the city's positive aspects, namely, the self reliance and the entrepreneur zeal that does not seek government patronage for anything.

Another interesting thing I have learned is that salaries have shot up sky high in the past few years, and there is a lot of wealth and purchasing power in the hands of the middle-class. The prevalence of major brands and swanky malls is another clear indicator that the new religion of consumerism has managed to set up its massive temples here as well.

As a lifelong expat Indian, these observations make one think twice about a lot of things. It is clear that India is headed towards greater economic strength, and when that happens, where does that place us -- that is, Indians who have lived in the Gulf all their lives -- in this present scenario.

Do we still stay here in Bahrain and other countries in the Gulf with meagre salaries, and watch our compatriots earn lot more in India? Do we miss out on the excitement that's surely ours in an economy that is headed towards the ionosphere? Do we sacrifice promised vibrancy for safety, however, dubious it may seem?

I have found myself asking these questions while wandering the streets of both the cities, and I have to admit that it has made me question many of my favourite rationales. Many of my friends have reached heights of success and carved out names for themselves in ways that wouldnt have been possible if they were in Bahrain. Yes. That is certainly an enviable situation and one that would make anyone question everything.

However, when all the points and counter-points are considered and re-considered, one thing is clear. If making money was the only reason why we were here in Bahrain and the Gulf, then, surely, we would take the first flight to India like many US based professionals are doing at the moment.

But for us who have lived in Bahrain and the Gulf our entire lives, the Gulf is not just a place where we earn our bread and butter, it is 'home' in a very vague sense of the term. I dare say 'vague' because the countries where we reside in can never be 'home' in the true sense of the term because we are not nationals. And on the other hand, India can not be truly 'home' because we havent lived there our entire lives, and hence, the emotional bonding we have is a feeling acquired from our parents and from the cultural underpinnings that have defined our mental makeup all these years.

Obviously, the sense of belonging we feel towards Bahrain and other Gulf countries we have grown up in, is partly because, we have seen these countries transform into modern metropolises right before our very eyes. We do feel a sense of pride when we look at these changes, and it is, without doubt, a very natural response.

But is this sense of pride the same thing as calling something 'home'?

I still dont have the answer to that question because, even today, I'm still wrestling with it. I do have a 'hometown' listed in my passport, a hometown that I left when I was four years old, a hometown where most of the people I was close to are now in the cemetry, a hometown that only gives me a sense of identity and nothing else.

But is that the same as 'home'?

Home is where the 'heart' belongs, or so the cliche goes... and where does the expat's heart resonate? Does the expat have a heart in the first place, as some people here ponder derisively. Or are there layers in the heart that the expat - or for that matter, the human mind - has still not able to clearly fathom?

Obviously, I haven't cracked the code as far as these questions are concerned, and am not sure if I ever will or even would want to. Somehow I'm satisfied with this vague sense of belonging I've been accustomed to since childhood. If I'm suddenly thrust into making a choice would be really hard because I'd finally have to decide on something or the other.

But one thing I do know, and that is, Miraj (my official hometown) will definitely have a place in my heart because this is where my parents and grandparents lived, However, Bahrain will always be 'home' even if I leave the country and settle somewhere else in the future. Miraj might be the town where I was born, but Bahrain was the place where I grew up, did my schooling, had my first crush, suffered my first heartbreak, learned to appreciate art and writing, made lifelong friends, acquired a sense of identity and purpose, and became a man.

So where do I belong? Do I need to belong anywhere? Is there any need to?

Questions that do not have easy answers, however, hard we may try to analyse them.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Waiting Room

There was a time – not so long ago – when a waiting room was meant to be just that, a place where one waits. It was never made clear as to what one is waiting for or how long one must wait. All one had to do was to park oneself on any of the uncomfortable benches arranged symmetrically in the room, pick some outdated magazines and read them if one is bored, or stare at a TV screen tuned to a channel that no one ever watches.

In such a situation, waiting seemed to be the most sensible thing to do, or rather, the only thing to do.

It was a situation that, undoubtedly and I’m sure accidentally, produced scholars and philosophers who would never have found their life’s purpose if it wasn’t for these waiting rooms.

Imagine being confined to a room that demands nothing from you except that you wait… for whatever it is you are supposed to wait for. I’m sure it summoned up strengths that one never imagined one possessed because, well, what else can one do? Ideas, thoughts, theories were just darting across the room like flies and all one had to do was tap into them, that’s all.

Of course, no one likes to wait because human nature wants quick and easy resolution. Or rather, that’s what we imagine human nature wants since that is how our world-view is shaped by the sultans of the rat race.

The persistently impatient, however, have no time for philosophising on the merits of the waiting game. This group, of which I happen to be a member, believes that point A must leap-frog to point B, point C, point D and so on and so forth. There has to be logic and symmetry to ever cause and reaction.

Things have to move in a progressive order, and preferably, in a linear fashion. Lateral progressions, or even ones that take a circuitous route are cute, and worth talking about over cups of coffee any day. But to see that approach bulldoze its way into our life-decisions is something most of us like to avoid. It is not comfortable. It is not easy. It is just beyond the paradigms we are familiar with. It just demands us to sit and… think.

Now that’s a road most of us pay lip service to because we don’t like to imagine what might transpire when we actually sit down and think. Suppose we come eyeball to eyeball with our worst fears? Suppose we are forced to deal with issues that have scarred our mental make-up? Suppose we are made to remember the things we like to forget?

Questions that somehow make their presence felt, and it takes either nerves of steel or mustard-seed type of faith to stare into this whirlwind and emerge with some answers, of sorts. It’s hard, but necessary, and like all things essential… crucial to our eventual growth.

But for that to happen, one has to wait, wait and wait.

It is not a coincidence that this piece was written in Sharjah International Airport where I was waiting six hours for my connecting flight to Mumbai. I have to add that this philosophical pondering were forced upon because there is no proper seating arrangement and absolutely no Internet facility in this ‘international’ airport… none whatsoever. I will rant about this in some other post, but let me say this on record: “Sharjah Airport, please get serious.” That feels a whole lot better.