Narendra Modi: Let’s help him be the change

(Picture via India Today)

India is elated about Modi’s win. He brings boundless hope to a country that many Indians consider damaged beyond repair, myself included.

Modi steps into a position of power with a vision of prosperity for all. His core focus will be on development that aims to improve the quality of life of 1.25 billion people. He promises better infrastructure; hydroelectric power plants; more jobs; more foreign investment; stronger international relations; a 100 new modern cities; and a united country.

From what I understand about Modi, he is a visionary though fierce leader; intelligent, tough, devoted and clear about what he wants to achieve, and perhaps even ruthless in his mission to achieve it. The corruption free prosperity of Gujarat while he was Chief Minister is proof of his abilities. And he is truly innovative! (I can’t get over his holographic rallies!)

However, fixing one state is largely different from fixing a country with 35 territories running with their own bureaucracy, beliefs and varying levels of corruption. Modi has a herculean task before him but he is soaring with confidence, ready to seize it.

I believe that if anyone can reform India, it’s going to be Modi; and clearly the majority of India feels the same. But there is a minority in India who wish his peril and a foreign community that can’t seem to stop warning the world about him.

It’s naïve and idealistic of me to think that the haters will shut-up and let him do his job now that he has won. There will be people, media and agendas digging up dirt on him and scrutinizing his every action. He has tough decisions to make on a domestic and international level, that won’t make everyone happy. He will be watched like a hawk, as they wait for him to stumble so he can be attacked. Unfortunately that is the nature of politics and fodder for media.

And for Godsake, let’s stop talking about what happened in 2002!

We all want to see change. Modi’s authoritarian nature is feared by critics but perhaps it is what India needs to be whipped into shape.

The situation in India is desperate. We have lost decades with the wrong leadership, and patience is no longer our virtue. But we have to give him some time to deliver.

I plead to my fellow Indians, let’s not expect a sudden miracle or radical changes overnight. Let’s make sure we support our new hope and defend it against the evil eye. Modi’s 12-year corruption free record and landslide victory in the polls has earned him the benefit of doubt.

We must give him the chance and time he needs to rewrite India’s destiny. It might just be the only chance we have.

Disco Dino at Dubai Mall

dino

Looking at these pictures of dinosaurs I just cannot believe that they inhabited our planet 230 million years ago. They walked the same ground we are walking now!

Looking at the dinosaur at the Dubai Mall, I can’t believe that something from that many million years ago, is just there, next to Tiffany and Cartier – it’s so surreal. 230 million years from now, maybe our bones will be in some public arena for people (or creatures!?) to gape at.

Just to put this all into context, according to the BBC, the history of life on Earth as we know it began about 3.8 billion years ago. The bacteria that we fight everyday were the first living things (!). Evolution did its thing and starting 570 million years ago, species we are familiar with like arthropods (eg. cockroach) and fish started to develop. Mammals came to being about 200 million years ago and us Homo sapiens, only about 200,000 years ago. We’ve hardly been around!

There have been eras of mass extinction that have wiped out entire races of living things, like dinosaurs, while others have survived. When and what will cause the mass extinction of humans? Or will science help us evolve into an immortal race that will still be around 4 billion years from now? Isn’t it crazy to think about!?

So back to the dino in Dubai. She is a 155 million year old long-necked whip-tailed sauropod (translates from Greek to ‘lizard foot’). She is 80 feet long and 25 feet high, and was 25 years old when she died. Had she lived her whole life, she would be at least double the size and weigh as heavy as five elephants put together.

While looking at her, it took me a few seconds to determine which side her head was on. In the image, it’s the bit on the right. It’s a very small head, common for herbivore dinosaurs. Meat eating animals have bigger heads because they need the brains to think about how to find and kill their next prey, is what the Dubai Mall exhibit attendant told me.

They say her bones were found intact in a sleeping position in 2008 in Wyoming (USA), and she probably died after being attacked while fighting for water to drink during a drought. 90% of the bones in the exhibit are original. Her tailbones were damaged and required some fixing.

Dinosaurs first appeared during the Triassic period, 231 million years ago and became extinct about 66 million years ago. The first dinosaur fossils were recognized only in the early 19th century.

It’s so mind-boggling to have access to something that old. I cannot fathom what 155 million years old means. It’s just fascinating. Makes you really think about evolution and what sort of species living beings will turn into in the future.

There is a name the dino competition going on on Twitter #NameTDMDino. I thought I would be able to think of a name once I saw it, but I really can’t – nothing feels right. Cindy? Nicole? Anastassiarex? Natashasaurous? I hope they name her something special, not Dubai Mall Dino.

#Day10, post 7.

The Pursuit of Happiness – #HappyDay

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Today being the International Day of Happiness compelled me to spend some time researching and thinking about ‘happiness’.

The Greek language has a beautiful word for happiness – ‘eudaimonia’ – the exact translation of which is ‘human flourishing’. Eudaimonia is central to Aristotle’s philosophy that ‘happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.’ I often struggle when I think about the purpose of my life, and reading this quote put my mind at ease. Is it really that simple?

Happiness means different things to different people. The World Happiness Report says income levels are not the only indicators of well-being in rich and poor countries. Political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are more important; and at the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to rely on, job security and a stable family are central to happiness.  But then again, to people living in poverty, fighting for food and water – 3 billion people (!) – is ‘happiness’ even relevant?

Happiness was put on the global agenda because of Bhutan, a tiny ‘land of dragons’ with a population of about 750,000 people. Happiness has been an organizing principle for governance in Bhutan since the early 18th Century when it declared that “if the Government cannot create happiness (dekid) for its people, there is no purpose for the Government to exist.” In 1972, Bhutan launched the Gross National Happiness Index recognizing happiness as a more important measure of prosperity than the Gross Domestic Product.

Following their inherent way of functioning and to extend it beyond borders, Bhutan called for a high-level meeting at the UN headquarters to discuss the importance of happiness as a universal goal. In the meeting held on April 2nd 2012, it discussed the need to have a new global sustainability-based economic paradigm for human happiness and well-being of all life forms to replace the current dysfunctional system that is based on the unsustainable premise of limitless growth on a finite planet. The full report of the meeting can be read here; it’s fascinating to see how happiness can be incorporated into governance.

Some call the meeting a fantastic public relations stunt by Bhutan, but the concept of happiness is so engrained in the policies that govern the country, it’s definitely more than that. Hats off to them for getting the world to recognize this fundamental need for a better planet, even if it was just for publicity! This year happiness is even on Dubai’s agenda.

And then I was pleasantly surprised to find movements such as actsofhappiness, projecthappiness, actionforhappiness that work towards making people happy and encouraging people and companies to spread happiness and drive socio-economic change.

Today, fortunately or unfortunately Pharrell Williams owns the word Happy. And I really don’t know what to say about that except that you can’t hold anything against anyone who is promoting happiness J.

#Day 7, post 6.

60 days, 60 posts

bloggagain

When I think about the death of this blog, it deeply saddens me. Makes me feel like I gave up on something I really enjoyed: writing for myself.

The voices in my head have turned what used to be a simple joy into a conundrum driven by excuses: I don’t have time. I need a new angle for my blog. Let me launch a new blog and start all over. But what will I write about. When will I study. When will I finish all those books that are half read on my bedside table. Between dancing, yoga, running, work, a masters programme, and learning Arabic, I really don’t have time. I need to give up something. But I don’t want to give up anything!  I need to be going out more I don’t have time to blog. I’m turning into a nerd I need to go out more. No one is going to read my blog anyway. I’ve lost my blogger mojo.

Underneath it all is a nagging subconscious that says just WRITE goddammit.

So here I am making time to redeem the pleasure I used to get from writing. And, I’m happy to realize and admit – I don’t need to write earth-shattering posts. As long as I enjoy writing them, it really doesn’t matter.

Starting today, I will write 60 posts in 60 days with hope to repossess my blogging prowess, and discover a new angle for this blog in the process.

I don’t know what I am going to write about. But I will write everyday. I hope some readers I used to have come back! If not, I’ll just be happy to be writing again.

#Day 1, post 1

(Photo via http://www.gimmemojo.com/)

Ode to my little brother

ImageI’ve changed his nappies. I’ve made him cry. He has made me slam doors and scream my lungs out.

He has made me happy. He has made me proud. He has made me feel like the best human being on the planet.

He has shared secrets with me. I have given him good advice. I have given him bad advice. He has protected me. He has supported me unconditionally.

He drank his first beer with me. He hated it! Now he loves it. So if he ever becomes an alcoholic it will be my fault.

My brother is one of the most sincere, positive, generous, and open hearted people I know. He is also one of the most creative people I know –- except for when he designs his own tattoo. Thanks to me, he now has the coolest tattoo ever. His thoughts, my advice = great result. You are welcome, Anish.

He has a precocious mind. He knew what he wanted to major in, in the eighth grade. His first short story was published when he was in grade 10. He started his own business with his friends when he was 15. He is a football fanatic and I know he will work and excel in that industry one day.

He has numerous unique, multi-dimensional skills:  Intelligence (he passed his CFA the first time round, after studying only for a week!). A diligent and responsible work ethic. Can dance hip hop, rap and bhangra equally well to the same song. Can sing without embarrassing anyone. Superb design and video-editing skills. Taught himself to play the guitar. Can cook Indian food (!). Can do the tough-mudder.

He is amazingly patriotic, even though he hasn’t really lived in India. That feeling along with his talent, could make him a game changer for our country. I hope India doesn’t disillusion him irrevocably.

He has taught me to believe in who I am by always looking up to me. I feel a responsibility towards him as a big sister; it helps me make decisions sometimes. He is the most mature 24 year old I know. I won’t make big decisions without his opinion. He inspires me in many ways.

I hurt when he is hurting, and also when he acts stupid. I want to protect him, but still be the cool big sister. A tough balance to keep.

I worry who he will marry, only because in my mind no one will be good enough for him. But I do hope he finds genuine true love and is able to keep it for life.

He was born on my request when I was 9; I was a lonely child. He is the best gift my parents could ever give me. I am blessed to have him as my brother, and really wish he didn’t live 13,334 kilometres away.

Happy Raksha Bandhan, my dearest brother. I miss you.

Update and thought for the day

I’m not doing very well with my resolution to write more on here. Oh well. Just got back from a lovely holiday in Japan and Taiwan. Went to visit two of my close friends who showed me the best time. I’m really lucky to have some awesome friends. Hopefully some posts should come out of the trip — I took notes on my holiday for the very purpose. Now just need to get my act together and write.

In the meantime I’m leaving you with a liberating quote. Found it on Facebook;  Googled it, didn’t find it anywhere so no information on the who’s and when’s.

It’s in Spanish and translates to: “Life protects those who decide to be free.”

Richard and his song

This is a story that reiterates a fact that we often forget: persistence and passion certainly pays.

I’ve known Richard for over 10 years now; we went to university together.

He was a big-talker, and not a good singer (sorry Rich, but this line is key to the story). I remember listening to him sing at uni and thinking, oh dear, someone please tell him that singing isn’t his thing — maybe he should just pursue playing the guitar, or playing golf, that’s where he has scope.  But, crushing someone’s passionate ambition is the most horrible thing you can do to a person. He wasn’t as bad as the crackpots on American Idol. He’ll figure it out, I thought.

And he did. He knew what he wanted and kept at it; nothing could stop him. Belief in himself and sheer desire to write songs and sing, today has lead him to have two bands, regular gigs at public live-music nights, and a recent appearance on Dubai One TV (which you can watch here). He sounds fantastic. The song you will hear is one written and composed by him, and very him indeed. And I love it.

If you like what you hear, you can often catch him at Peanut Butter Jam on Friday Nights (at Wafi).

Lesson: Any talent can be nurtured. All you need is the desire and discipline.

Welcome 2010

I really can’t believe it’s 2010 already. The year 2000 is still so fresh in my mind (Y2K bla bla), that it’s hard to fathom it was TEN YEARS ago. Sheesh. I was 20 then. I am almost 30 (holy f***) now. Where did all those years go!? Time flies so fast it’s scary.

I’ve had a tough and eventful year. Moving back to Dubai after almost 3 years in Spain was one of the hardest things I have done. Never do I remember being so depressed; it lasted for at least 6 months after I got back. Survived that, thanks to a crazy work schedule that kept me occupied, and family support.

Then, I decided to jet to Ecuador for a break and ever since I’ve been back, things have only been getting brighter. Highlights include: Moving to my own pad in the most happening address in Dubai, meeting (ok, standing next to) Amitabh Bachchan, attending TEDxDubai that was a kick of much needed inspiration, working on the launch of the Burj Dubai (Jan, 4), eating over 500 cupcakes, and meeting some fabulous new people. Really cannot complain.

Today I woke up at the crack of dawn and went up the Burj Dubai to get shots of the sunrise from the tower. What a spectacular way to bring in the new year — here’s a picture from the balcony on floor 124.

So, I’m happy to say that I feel really grateful for everything and am looking forward to this year. Lots to do, lots to learn, lots to travel, lots to live.

A few of my resolutions include: learning something new (tango, Arabic, photography, or guitar), writing lots more (especially here), and vlogging.

To those few who read here, thanks for your encouragement and I hope you stay tuned.

I wish you and yours a wonderful 2010. Live it up!

Radio interview: Nightline Dubai

nightlineA few days ago, I had the privilege to be on Nightline Dubai with James Piecowye. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, it’s a talk show that airs Sunday – Wednesday 8-10pm (103.8FM), and covers a variety of subjects. James is a great host and also happens to be one of the guys who organised TEDxDubai.

The show I was on was dedicated to Adwomen, an organization that brings together women in the marketing and communications industry.  If you’ve been reading here for a bit, you would have seen that I spoke at an Adwomen event a few months ago.

On the show there were four of us from different sectors of the industry, including the founder of Adwomen — Preethi Mariappan. Other than Adwomen, we talked about the communications industry in the region, how it functions, what we do, and as women in a male dominated industry, how we feel. Check it out here if you fancy a listen. Open to thoughts!