Saturday, May 26, 2007

just talkin

A few weeks back I had lunch with (a really) nice Indian lady and her colleagues – all of whom are new to the UAE. We sat down, placed orders and got talking about the firm, business opportunities in the UAE, generic topics on life in in the UAE, in NY, our backgrounds etc all.

Most seem surprised to meet someone who'd lived in the UAE for a while – primarily ‘cause they feel most souls in the UAE are "new" i.e. arrived in the past 6 years or less?

Anyhoooo – the Indian lady seemed quite inquisitive about life in the UAE (her family & she moved to the UAE 3 years ago). She asked me about life in the good old days – ways of living, growing up back then, the structure of the city, the country – lifestyle etc all. Our chat went on for a while, before it took a turn along these lines....

Mrs B: do you like living in Dubai
rosh: yup I like living in the uae

Mrs B: do you think you’ll move back to Dubai from NY?
rosh: hmmmm, I don’t know, and if I'd answer that? 'cause there’ll probably be a lot of rhetoric attached to my response (smiling)

Mrs B: say everything being equal - would you consider moving back?
rosh: yes of course?

Mrs B: but isn’t NY better in almost all aspect?
rosh: I wouldn’t say that – each place has it’s pluses & cons.

Mrs B: well I am from Bombay and I think Bombay is so much better than Dubai
rosh: really? Why? what makes you say that?

Mrs B: well – you see we’ve got everything there. We have all kinds of food, festivals, the city is so much developed, it's real – the ambience, the party life and just so many things to do and live for.
rosh: well I’ve been there just once in ’86 when I was just 10. It was just for a day and a half.

Mrs B: oh you’ve been to Bombay just once and that too 21 years ago?
rosh: yea....?

Mrs B: so you don’t know what you are missing you see (smiling ear to ear totally surprised)
rosh: perhaps, but then I think we’ve got the best of everything right here in the UAE.

Mrs B: oh no – you don’t know the other side. It’s so much better there. The quality of life, cost of living – the food – everything is so much better. The city has a soul of it’s own. People value life, and you are so free – there is nothing to worry about, you’ve got your own home, things are so cheap…blah blah blah

rosh: (now getting a bit cheesed off) – and …… you don’t think that's not here in the UAE?

Mrs B: oh it’s not that - it’s just that there is much more in Bombay and life is better in every aspect. You should visit and you shall see what you’ve missed out. There is much Dubai has to catch up with Bombay – the city’s soul is unparallel….blah blah blah blah ….kids have so much fun, they grow up to be more mature and aware of life and peoples, they can actually play "cricket" (?)… it’s my home …..blah blah blah ….

rosh: (now a bit more cheesed off) – pse don’t mind me asking you this – given all your sentiment I think Bombay is quite a lovely place…

Mrs B: oh yes it is…

rosh: ……and it holds the best of everything you are looking for?

Mrs B: oh yes it does – "Bombay runs thru my body" (or veins or something along those lines)

rosh: ……pse don’t mind this innocent question? so…. how come you are in the UAE with your family? I mean surely you couldn’t be happier in any place than Bombay and listening to your sentiments, it seems like such a happening place and I’d love to visit sometime.

Mrs B: (a bit embarrassed) – well..... I was just being honest about the city you know, we are all sentimental about our homes.
rosh:…….sure apologies I understand. Pardon my question if it was direct or seemed rude, that was not my intention. I am curious to know why people would continue to live and work in the UAE if there is a better home – that’s all?

Mrs B: well it’s a good place to make monies and after a while we shall go back.
rosh: oh oki? that’s good to know.....

Mrs B: I must apologize if my comments seemed insensitive. I didn’t realize you being raised in Dubai feel for the city, the way I feel for Bombay
rosh: ….awww not a problem, not a problem (smiling). If I may - it’s UAE, not Dubai and I was raised in Sharjah..... there is so much more to UAE than Dubai (smiling)

After work, on my way to the hotel – I sort of felt a bit bad on my chat with Mrs B – ‘cause I didn’t think she had bad intentions. However I realized this wasn’t the first time I’ve heard similar comments/ got me thinking, and even a bit angry.

Angry 'cause there are so many new people moving into the UAE and whilst the vast majorities do respect the place – they are here for the short term, for short term gains i.e. sole intention of monetary benefits – nothing wrong with that. But (like the local population) it does put 2nd/3rd generation expat kids who’ve choose to be in the UAE, despite better career options elsewhere in a pickle?

Most return to the UAE because they feel this is their home - the place they grew up and would prefer to be here no matter what. Hence (say everything being equal i.e. in terms of education/experience) - these souls have such little help or zero preference whilst in the job market compared to hundreds of newer expats who moved into the UAE yesterday?

Point being - I wish there is a process wherein primarily the "local" pool is exhausted prior to hiring externally – because we did have many more who appreciate the place and work not for just the livelihood or short term - but also because they sincerely care for the place, want the best for it - and help better the nation's progress in the long haul.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've been in the UAE for just about 2 months now - and yup there are lots and loads of new people moving into this country, especially to Dubai. I've visited about 7 different firms (on various consulting work) - and can't help notice the large number of peoples who've moved into the UAE in the past 6 years or lesser. On introducing myself (to the newer folks) I find it surprising they’ve met so few souls who are actually from here i.e. the city/country (locals & native expats, uaeians etc). Some take an extra liking or inquisitiveness towards me when I tell them I was raised in this nation. Most often they just ask me more about the country, ways of living in the past decades and why I've moved away etc. To be honest, often I find the inquisitiveness positive since it does gives me a chance to let them know there is a more sincere soul to the UAE than all the glam in Dubai.

In a way it is nice to see different personalities and cultures bring their own aspect to the UAE and for the most part, I think the flamboyant or exciting souls are clustered in Dubai. Whilst Sharjah has more Arab & Sub-con singles & families. However I acknowledge it does make me anxious & nervous as well (I don't know why - well I know why, but don't wish to admit it perhaps?) ‘cause there are times I feel like a complete stranger in a country I grew up. It is unsettling 'cause I feel helpless, anxious - sometimes frustrated and there are times I just want to block it all out and at times pretend most people are simply visiting tourists? It can get overwhelming really - the sudden & super sonic change. I mean we all know Dubai is taking the rest of UAE & ME region kicking & screaming into fast paced change and global map. For the most part, it's all wonderful - the growing economy, the vision to equip (step by step - though there is much more work to be done) an infant nation with tools & processes in place to help run well with leading global nations in the future.

However this perhaps is something most long term souls in the UAE have to reconcile with - however difficult the process. But then comes along an incident, like the Wafi robbery or news of body being found in a garbage dumpster or the constant labour issues - which derails a sensitive reconciliation process, and I often find myself wanting to go back to my home and "pretend" - nothing of this sort happened. Personally, there are times, I find "home" pretty much unrecognizable – and start thinking is the "price" for change, too high?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

just one point...

I’d like to clarify something to those few who’ve taken the trouble to write an angry, abusive email or two on why I’ve named my blog – uaeian.

So you know, uaeian – does not mean Emarati. I do not call myself an Emarati – because I am not one, I shall never be one. I am someone who, like a thousand others, was born & raised in the UAE.

This is the only nation I’ve lived in. Wherever I visit and choose to live, I do not feel "being home" – as much as being home in Sharjah, or whilst walking my neighbourhood – the neighbourhood I've grown up as an infant - the one place I can call "my neighbourhood". The place where all my lives memoirs are held.

In an amusing sort of way, friends and I came up with the phrase – "uaeian" – primarily, given casual discussions on second generation expat kids like myself. It is hard to call ourselves 100% Iranian, Jordanian, Indian, Pakistani or even English – given, most of us have lived our lives in a foreign nation, and not that of our parents. Perhaps you folks must know – most true natives of such nations, do not think of us as a true Asian, Western or Indian or Jordanian. I am not saying this is the case for all souls who’ve lived in the UAE – but for several it’s very true.

Hence, we sort of came up with a phrase and call ourselves part "uaeians".

Often, it’s confusing enough to have discussions on certain background & cultures and also have a sense of belongingness to some nation or place. Hence please don’t go all bananas on the phrase uaeians – it may not mean much to you, but it means plenty, to those amongst us.

roaming labourers

Recently I made a comment on bachelors (primarily laborers) moving into residential neighbourhoods of Sharjah by the hordes - within the community blog. I received some flak for my comment - as it was perceived by some as "insensitive".

I have the following to state to those fellow bloggers and all else who care to listen:

We've see huge scary looking buses, which carry the less fortunate souls drive pretty recklessly across the narrow (well kept) lanes of some Sharjah residential neighbourhoods. The buses drop off the labour folks - mostly in the evenings. This is the time moms & toddlers are out playing or out for walks in the neighbourhood and parks.

I am infuriated - sincerely infuriated by the fact we now have hundreds of labourers roaming about these well kept and perhaps some of the older neighbourhoods of Sharjah. I am upset these men stop and stare at the women and leave all sorts of debris - sandwich wraps, coke cans and plastic water bottles, once they move on. I am upset these men feel it is alright to tress pass into a private garden and pick flowers and more. This might seem totally harmless - but this is new to me. I have not seen so many people (not with the best hygiene or education or awareness) walk into my garden and neighbourhood parks (all pretty harmless) on their way home from work.

It's not comfortable or safe from any perspective, and it's not just me who thinks this way. My neighbourhood is made of up people from varied backgrounds - there are Emaraties, various Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis and a few EU's. Everyone feel rather bolted - by the new "roaming labourers" and completely crazy buss drivers.

Don't get me wrong. I am all for labour rights and treating them humanely etc all. However I cannot just stand and watch the neighbourhood I've grown up in, turn into some horrible & unsafe place.

Most of the residents have lived here for 3 to 4 decades and along with Sharjah municipality we've all done our pennyworth to keep the place, clean, safe and developed. Hence it hurts and causes much discomfort to have these new visitors - who neither care for the cleanliness or safety of the residents. Call me cold - I don't care. This is my home, and my neighbourhood. All those who've lived here for decades have worked hard to keep it a safe, clean and a wonderful place to live.

I realize the souls are returning after hard day's work - but come on, there has to be better a alternative - such as low income and affordable housing, perhaps not within certain neighbourhoods of Sharjah. I don't want to see a lovely 3 bedroom home, down the road turned into a labour camp with about 30 men living in it!! This is one of the reasons why I feel affordable housing perhaps in the outskirts of the city is a viable option.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Well, I think I am back blogging again. I've wanted to do this for a while, but never got around to it. Work and travel steal most spare time. Anyhow, am going to take this slow and steady - just some casual thoughts on my mind - no logical flow, no grammar- just speaking my mind...

Today was a slow day from the getgo. I brushed teeth rather slow, showered/shaved perhaps slower and changed hmmmm perhaps a little slower than usual. The morning drive was cramped and traffic now seem to hurt.

Morning at work was slower - infact today wasn't a productive day at work or otherwise. It was one of those days where I couldn't get anything done - even though there was lots to do...and I had an agenda in mind ......hmmmm strange?

I sat thru most of my meetings, smiled, asked an inane question and passed a redundant comment once a while, whilst simultaneously browsing thru a few blogs (on my laptop) and looking serious & interested the whole time.

My admin, who has perfected the art of sleeping with her eyes open - slept thru the meeting, 'cause she didn't take notes or respond to any comments. Morning went by rather fast, and it was time for lunch. Walked into a Sushi joint on Khaleed Bin Walid road, had a quick but "slow" bites for lunch. I just wanted to get away from all sorts of thoughts from work, about issues at home.... I sort of miss my car, my friends and apartment in NYC - at times can't wait to get back, and at times, don't wanna go back (yea my shrink is still working on that)

Afternoon was slower - again. My admin went on dental appointment - unannounced. I was bombarded with calls. Not one amongst this was urgent, but people call anyway - to let me know they are "working hard" - I play along.

Around 2PM the office gossip Winfrey talk show lady (who I stay away from) walks into my office. All flamboyant and drenched in 10 gallons of perfume. She is known for office romance gossip and labelling people - with stigmas. I make small talk with her for about 5 minutes and slip to the kitchen for a cuppa.

Back in my office again, looking out the window - beautiful warm summer day in Dubai - miss Manhattan a bit more now?. I can see the neighbouring offices and people working, in meetings, have lunch, coffee breaks, water cooler talks etc all. I wonder how many are having slow days like me today?

It's almost 3PM and still not getting any work done. So I visit some of the blogs checking for new/updated posts and comments. Hoping to indulge in an interesting conversation or two. Nothing much happening at the UAE community blog - except for the usual whining as well as some genuine concerns being raised.

I have another 2 to 3 weeks in Dubai prior to getting back to NYC. I hope the days do go slow - cause I like being home for a change and savouring every moment - both the quick and slow moments.