Saturday, January 27, 2007
Off to Dubai
I am travelling again, leaving tomorrow for Dubai where our company is exhibiting at the Arab Health trade fair.
I had been to Arab Health as a visitor last year.
My visit to Dubai last year occasioned a get-together of Rimcollians (alumni of the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun) based there. There will be a get-together again this time. I also hope to meet Dr Saif Alghais who teaches in the biology department of the UAE University; we were colleagues at the Salzburg Seminar in 1992.
I had been struck by Dubai's uniqueness, as a city that's a market. But I had also been disturbed seeing the large number of Southasian workers, who slept in shift-beds and spent holidays standing in the neighbourhood street junctions and gazing blankly into space as they had nowhere else to go. They work hard and save money in every way so as to have a better standard of living for themselves and their families back home. There are also many educated and professionally qualified Indians living comfortably in Dubai. But I had wondered whether I would have wanted to live in a place where life is defined singularly around personal material pursuits and consumption, and devoid of a relation to the place and the people, of self-expression and human intercourse, with the society, the culture, the public sphere, the civil society... politics.