Where is the Middle East?

September 10, 2008


I was going through the web pages of CERN, as it has hit the news lately. I looked at the member countries, mostly European countries. The non-member but observer countries include many Asian and American countries, with UNESCO as the observer organization. There were many under developed, developing and developed countries, but no where in the list I saw any GCC countries. There was Iran from the Middle East. I am sure these GCC countries are more developed than countries like Iran, India, Pakistan etc but their contribution towards the field of science and technology is either very less or a big zero, when compared with the said countries. Well, as far as Dubai is considered, science and technology means building the highest tower, the biggest water theme park, the longest bridge ( Did you hear it? There is no sea or creek big enough to build the longest bridge. So I hear they are digging the sea to widen it, and build a big bridge above it!!), the largest man made islands and so on. Guess whose brains and hands are behind these projects? The Europeans’, or Americans’’ or the Asians’. This is the birth place of Prophet Muhammed (saw) who made it obligatory for every muslim man and woman to seek knowledge, even though it be in China. And the people of the same birth place of Prophet (saw) stands last in the list of scientific and technical research centres. I feel shame as a muslim, as these 100% muslim countries has got nothing to do in the fields of higher education. But I also feel proud as an Indian, a country that has got her small but important contributions to the development of CERN.


Some months back, when I went to the Ibn Bathutha mall, I saw the works of so many talented Arabian scientists of the past displayed there. Looking at those displayed discoveries, a new thought came to me. Some years back, I read a novel written by the Malayalam writer Vaikom Muhammed Basheer. The novel was titled as “My great grandpa had an elephant”. Having an elephant was a prestigious issue among the Malayalees those days, like having a Rolls Royce car now-a-days. The character in the novel, a muslim lady, believes that as she is the grand daughter of a person who owned an elephant she should be respected by the society, and she goes on describing to everyone about the elephant her great grandpa had, although now she is poor and unworthy of a penny. The people around her, including her daughter and husband, get angry at these remarks of her and start mocking her. In the end, she understands that there is nothing like gaining respect for the glory of your ancestors.

I feel Ibn Bathutha Mall is like this character of the story, shouting loud that “My great grandpa was a scientist, so respect me!” No one ever turning their attention towards it. 


The Interviews.

August 20, 2008

I had the luck to attend some interviews these days, as I’m searching for a job. The first interviewer was an Indian, and this is how the interview went.

INT1 (interviewer) : Explain yourself. ( My resume lies on his desk).
me : I’m Najeeba, doing my alphabets now, and I’ve reached the “M”th alphabet in caps and small letters.
INT1 : Ok, can you spell ‘cot’?
me : No, sir. I haven’t learned “T”.
INT1 : Ok, Then can you remember a word starting with “P”?
me : No sir, I have learned only upto “M”.
INT1 : I see. Then give me a sentence with the words you have learned.
me : (OOOppppsss…… What do I do now???? Think for sometime, and then write : He liked me.)
INT1 :Fine. Thank you for coming. We will contact you later.
me : Thank you sir. (Happy to be out of that place!!)
I wait for two weeks without any reply from them, and then finally conclude they have selected someone else.

The second one was with a westerner. Let’s look at that one.
INT2 :Good morning, Mrs Najeeba.
me :Good morning, Sir.
INT2 :I see from your resume here that you have learned upto the “M”th alphabet. Well done, Mrs Najeeba.
me :Thank you sir, and I’m trying hard to finish with the rest of the letters.
INT2 :Good. Now can you spell me ‘Mall’?
me :Yes, sir. M-A-L-L.
INT2 :You are right. Do you have any idea about the letters after the “M”?
me : I know capital “N”, “O” and “P”.
INT2 :Its ok. Best of luck for the rest of your letters.
me ;Thank you, sir.
INT2 :Thats all Mrs Najeeba. We will contact you in a few days. Thank you for coming here, and lending your precious time for the company.
me :You are welcome, sir. And thank you for the interview.

With in two days, I get a reply from them thanking me for coming to the interview, and sadly saying that they have selected another guy for the post. They have also wished me best of luck for my future job search.

See the difference? We Indians still lack some of the manners to be shown to our elders, youngers, superiors and inferiors. “Thank you” and “Sorry” are seldom heard among Indians, and some find it very irritating to speak out such words of thought. Shouldn’t we change?

Independence day – II

August 15, 2008

I was bed ridden with viral fever for the past two days, and had nothing to do except watch the buses, cars, pickups, lorries and all the vehicles that pass by, through my window. I was having severe headache, and so hubby never allowed me to even take the laptop. It was really boring days, to just lie in bed.
It was August 14th, and I could here the sounds from the TV in my room. I listened to it, as I had nothing else to do. I was not able to watch it, due to my headache. I heard the words, “Independence day special programs”, in between the national song and national anthem. It was only then I remembered. August 15th was the Indian Independence Day. The day India declred her freedom from the colonialists – the Britons. I have learned about Mahatma Ghandhi, Nehru, Jinna, Azad, Ambedkar and so many freedom fighters of the British India, and the leaders of free India in history. But later in my years, I found out half of the history we learn in just rubbish, or false. I felt these people are not really great. I think the real heroes are the lakhs or crores of the public mass whose names no history book have revealed, in whose name there are no memorials and who never desired any positions or status for their life they gave for their country.
When in India, I used to look forward for the day, not because I was patriotic, but because I got a day off from school, college and work. And yeah, I was a little patriotic too, until I reached UAE. But when I watched the multicultured people here in UAE, it seemed to me that all human beings are the same, regardless of their nation, caste or gender. They all have same basic needs – food, water, shelter and clothes. What does an African need more than an Indian? What is there more good about an American from a Chinese? Is pain and misery for a person from middle east different for a person in Australia?
Well, I was thinking about these when I saw a pickup being pulled in to the parking lot infront my window. It had a Pakistani flag flying on its bonnet. It was then I remembered, August 14th was Pakistan’s Independence Day. The day when Indian subcontinent was divided into India and Pakistan. According to history, it was Mr. Jinna’s request for a separate country for muslims (although I don’t believe in history), and Pakistan was born. It is said that India and Pakistan have always been enemies since then. But I don’t agree with it (another big rubbish written in history). I don’t hate Pakistanis nor do I think a Pakistani will hate Indian. Its the political leaders, with the help of other countries like US, that play a major part in making India and Pakistan enemies.
Next day, I sat at the window to see cars flying with an Indian flag. But to my utter disbelief, there was none. I saw some two or three more cars with the Pakistani flag – flags they have not been removed since yesterday. But not a single Indian flag. I sat till dusk, without any success. Why aren’t there any Indians who are as patriotic as Pakistanis? I think there are more number of Indians in UAE than Pakistanis. And yeah, less (or zero) number of patriotic Indians than Pakistanis (I don’t know about any other country’s independence day to count the patriotic persons in that country). But then again, patriotism is not in the flag on our car. I don’t think loving our nation means believing that “east or west, India is the best”. To love our country means to obey the rules of our country, to keep away from destroying her properties ( and in this, I feel I’m more patriotic than any political party member, because they are always interested in destroying public properties when on a strike). But loving my country doesn’t mean I’ll support her when making wrong decisions, or decisions that go against my belief and morals.
Any way, I love my country. Jai Hind. And I love all countries. Jai Sare Desh.

My Wonderland

June 16, 2008

I don’t think many of you have heard the place Kerala, the farthest tip of India, floating above the Arabian Sea. The majority of Keralites (or Malayalees, as their mother tongue is Malayalam) follow the Hindu religion and hmmm… I don’t know if muslims or christians come second. I live in a small village in Kerala, by the side of (my) river, Thutha.

Now in dubai, I sometimes feel running away from this traffic, ambulance sirens and lots of people, to that quite kingdom of mine. There are about 300 houses belonging to our same family – so anyone you meet on the street gets to be your cousin, uncle or aunt! There are no houses without farms, where they grow bananas, coconut palms, mango trees and so many others of which I don’t know the English names.Hmmm…..did u see my brothers and cousins? Evening brings all of them to our compound, along with a cricket bat or football and a lot of noise! Its the time for Umma(my mom) to shout at them for messing with her plants, for Baba(my dad) to shout at them for breaking the glasses of his car, for sis-in-law to shout at her kid for not obeying her! Plus the shout of the playing team!
And here is my nephew(now in Ohio) – a small man with big aims!!
Coming back to my village, its in a remote place of Kerala. I wouldn’t have been blogging here, if my Baba never got his job in UAE. There were only three of us in our village who has passed the high school exam the year I passed the exam! One of the other two is now a teacher in a local school in my village. Don’t know about the third. But now, the conditions has changed a lot, and there are so many students doing graduation and post graduation. What I love most about Moorkanad is the river that flows through it. During the rainy season, I just like to sit and watch the overflowing river, with trunks of trees, coconuts, banana trees and bamboo floating on it. 

And when rain stops, kids get out of their homes with fishing rods – and our dining tables will be filled with freshwater fishes! I too have gone fishing when I was a kid, but without much success. I and my brothers were looked upon as some sort of expatriates in our village – as we didn’t know fishing, swimming and many games they played. My family returned back from UAE when my younger brother was some 10 years old, and has lived in Moorkanad since then. As he lived near the river for some years, my younger brother has his “masters” in fishing and swimming! He can catch a fish without a fishing rod – he keeps his hand motionless in water, and catches a fish when it comes close to his hand. Wow!! Marvelous that was!
Its June now, and as I said in my earlier post, After School Days, school and rain starts with June. In the local TV channels, you can see the ads of umbrellas along with that of school bags, books, pencils, pens and other school items. Its a beautiful scene to see kids around 4 or 5 years old go to school with multi-colored umbrellas and new uniforms.

I was one of them some 20 years back. But not with new umbrella! I went to UKG in Fujaira, UAE. On a sunny April morning. So umbrella was one of the things I missed when I lived in UAE. There are many things I missed with my life in UAE – the lullabies of my grandparents, the long night secret chat with cousins and many more. There are also so many things I gained – good education, understanding of multi-culture and yeah, the curiosity to know how people from other countries lives, thinks, acts, …

Ok…back to the rains now. I love the view of mother earth just after the rain. With tiny droplets of water on the leaves and flowers, shining with the new sun that comes after the dark, cloudy monsoon days.
You can see small tips of grasses popping out from the ground. Birds in search of food after the hungry, cold, rainy days. The insects that come out of the mud after their pupa life. Forgs and lizards waiting their turn to catch these insects for dinner. There are many post-rain sights.

In this lonely apartments in Dubai, what I miss most is my village. We don’t have much visitors here, and we don’t visit others much. Its same in Dubai, as well we my in-laws home. But in our home, we always have visitors. One reason for so much visitors is that Baba has difficulty in walking, and so he cannot go out to visit others. He has also got so many friends. Friends and relatives always come to visit him. So in Dubai, I feel very lonely, when hubby go to work. He leaves at 8, and comes around 5:30. I tried for a job , but I think Allah hasn’t kept one for me, at least not till today. I sometimes feel very depressed, ‘coz I am not able to put my knowledge or abilities into some use outside my home. Thats when the thought of Moorkanad brings a smile in me, as Wordsworth says:


For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.