Where are the Drivers and Cameramen?

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Really looking at the future one does see so much automation that one wonders will men and women be left with any jobs. As a couch potato I look at the sudden absence of cameramen while the news is being read on the BBC and CNN. These are robotic cameras moving left and right and around on the command of some distant producer or director.

What sparked my fears is the vision of driverless trucks in Rotterdam shuffling containers from one point to another. Gone! Driving jobs gone! What will my favorite actor Jason Statham do now in Transporter now?

No ticket checkers at subway station. In Dubai I rode in metro cars which were driverless. I think they have done it or are going to do it in New Delhi too. What will all these jobless people do. Will we have such a prosperous welfare state that everyone will be taken care of by the government?

We are already on the way to a cashless economy. Some banks have check and cash receiving machines. Gone are the tellers. Of course we have robots in the sky beaming signals for broadcasting and communications since decades. The transformation is so subtle. Remember the numerous bank clerks and tellers? Now an entire bank can be run by a small team of people. Would I fly in an aeroplane without a pilot? I don’t think so!

Will we really delegate our parliament to robots with the latest software? Wouldn’t that be so safe! We will be spared sexual scandals of the presidential kind. Robots are not imbued with sexual desires. Is man wrong in not allowing robots to make love to each other? Will God forgive us for taking up his job of creation?

Call me Faxian!

CALL ME SANJAYA!

 

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I suppose if my TV had artificial intelligence it would go all Herman Melville on me and say-”Call me Sanjay.” Why Sanjay?you know in the beginning of Bhagavad Gita- Sanjaya Uvacha! That was the first incidence of remote broadcasting. An ancient war correspondent!–https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanjaya

I am so glad Arwa Damon has been given a break and taken to some better climes she was actually wilting before us in the Middle East. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arwa_Damon

I am definitely an armchair traveller when I am not actually traveling to various cities. I feel like the celebrated Fa Hien of our history books. Times so change and Fa Hien is now called Faxian. —https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faxian

It is like the vedic concept which is now borne out by great minds like Stephen Hawking that the world is expanding and mutating all the time. —  

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mauricio-garrido/vedic-cosmology-integrating-god-and-physics_b_4612413.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe

 We are evolving continuously and eventually I suppose we will become mere atoms or thinking mists of knowledge; what will be the need of our bodies? Sex as it is has become such a contentious subject!–

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump_sexual_misconduct_allegations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Weinstein_sexual_abuse_allegations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_Too_movement

 

I know! I know! Who reads blogs? Apparently one cannot quote wikipedia in learned treatises but remember I ain’t no lady! Why do writers write? It is just a sickness! A verbose diarrhea. Writers have wordy runs. They are because they write. In some future a thousand years hence maybe they will print some blogs, laminate them and use them as curious and quaint table mats for dining robots. That is my mission to have my words read by robots of the future while they consume machine oil and nuts and bolts bhel puri!IMG_8671

I am looking for a Desert Rose in my writings!

Yes Sir, It Sure is the Tallest Building

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This tall giant of Dubai is visible from all corners of the city. It is the perfect landmark for getting your bearings in this old trading port which is now a modern tourist haven on the Persian Gulf.

THIS IS THE BURJ KHALIFA.

BURJ KHALIFA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa

Beautiful Al Rahim Mosque

It is the jewel in the crown of the Dubai Marina. Perhaps it is the most photographed structure in Dubai. The lilting call to prayer from its minarets adds to the oriental charm of the city and its residents who are here from all over the world and are of all faiths.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masjid_Al_Rahim

Chevas/J Walker vs Old Monk Rum

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I am a Chevas Regal fan( Ahem, only when I can’t get my Indian rum; the attendant at the duty free shop was horrified at the thought of displaying such a monstrosity as Old Monk Rum) ( On the other hand the grapevine on Whatsapp had revealed that they had just unearthed a factory making spurious Chevas Regal and Johnnie Walker Black Label back in New Delhi, India) and we find an offer of one free one litre bottle with three litre bottles of Chivas. At least the quality of my booze is guaranteed here. My Whatsapp has started working with the free Dubai airport wifi and so I ask my daughter  if she approves of the deal and she tells me to jump with alacrity at this great offer. I also buy some white wine. Every person is allowed to buy five litres of liquor at the duty free well equipped shop. Liquor inside Dubai is not served in restaurants except those attached to five star hotels. It is a trick to learn to catch the happy hours of five stars in Dubai. Women are offered two to three free drinks on Tuesdays and on Mondays in some hotels. Well that smells a bit of female chauvinism. Fridays and Saturdays have noon to five great lunch offers with drinks. So grab that copy of DBX and ShortList and learn about all the hotspots of town.

I have seen airports but this is tremendous. The scale of things here is amazing. Dubai is Utopia in the desert; an engineering feat to be marvelled at. It is a remote corner of the world which has become a great tourist hub. Really watching the lunar landscape of the peninsula from the plane one wonders at this magnificent growth of man’s achievements in the desert. Dubai is a sporting hub too (remember the Federer vs Agassi match on the tennis court on the platform of the Burj al Arab?). In fact the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament will be ongoing during our visit. The Federer vs Agassi event was a promotion for this tennis tournament 13 years ago.  The airport itself is a wonder connected by a fast metro to our baggage drop point. It is gigantic in size, the airport. Salman Khan smiles back at me from a hoarding for a local brand. I quickly grab a free copy of the first copy of DBX. Maybe this will be worth a million dollars in a hundred years like the Dubai Airport Duty Free raffle.

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I have seen airports but this is tremendous. The scale of things here is amazing. Dubai is Utopia in the desert; an engineering feat to be marvelled at. It is a remote corner of the world which has become a great tourist hub. Really watching the lunar landscape of the peninsula from the plane one wonders at this magnificent growth of man’s achievements in the desert. Dubai is a sporting hub too (remember the Federer vs Agassi match on the tennis court on the platform of the Burj al Arab?). In fact the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament will be ongoing during our visit. The Federer vs Agassi event was a promotion for this tennis tournament 13 years ago.  The airport itself is a wonder connected by a fast metro to our baggage drop point. It is gigantic in size, the airport. Salman Khan smiles back at me from a hoarding for a local brand. I quickly grab a free copy of the first copy of DBX. Maybe this will be worth a million dollars in a hundred years like the Dubai Airport Duty Free raffle.

Meet the Snow Leopard

Meeting The Snow Leopard

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Some books wait like a dream at corners of our lives. One such book is The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. It was waiting for me on a table in the living room of my daughter’s apartment in Dubai. I really have grown too old for new books. I picked up the book with scepticism and whoosh I was away on a soul searching journey with Peter Matthiessen. He is a yogi of the written word. I have read books but not enough to understand the great references made in this spiritual journey journal but I do get the drift.

Sitting in the balcony with the traffic sound like that of a Niagara from the Sheikh Zayed highway and the sun beaming off the glass tops of the buildings facing me and hitting my book like a table lamp’s concentrated rays, I had a feeling of being at one with the world, the Marina down below, the boats gliding over the still water, the sea gulls floating, the parachutists jumping from planes across the bay, the joggers taking life in gulps of fresh air and the boatmen washing the pretty cruisers of the marina residents. The restaurants have yet to open and old men on benches are waiting for the sun to hit them.

 

 

 

I continue to read the book and really begin to have an amused smile at Matthiessen’s tortured desire to nail the eel of existence/life/soul/god/cosmos; don’t we Indians have a perception of the truth instinctively or rather through religious learning through mythology, prayers, Ramayana stories told by mothers, grandmothers both maternal and paternal, Krishna stories, Mahabarata learning, a recital of all the granths while we are passing through streets of cluttered worshipers. Our understanding of Karma, fate and existence is there and we cannot explain it because of any books we have read or any lectures we listened to; to this he sort of agrees in seeing the one learned sherpa–on their quest for the bhural the blue sheep. It is a typical white man’s quest to find primordial universal answers from watching sheep making love. It just goes to prove that reading an extreme number of books does not still qualify you in that childhood party game of pinning the tail while blindfolded. On the other hand a tinge of distrust of Hindus sneaks in with the way he approaches Buddhists with love and rather with a pinched nose when he handles, ‘the Hindu.’

Like everyone else I am enamoured by tales of travelling that lead to self realisation the most classic being the rip roaring success The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. This is of the same genre but the learning here is in the gems placed throughout the journey by the author on surprising corners of the book. One feels the cold thin air climbing up in the mountains close to the Himalayas through Nepal and Tibet.

I discover the power of OM Mani Padme Hum through Peter Matthiessen’s revelations about his encounters with the Buddhist religion.It was a bit eerie that I had brought Innocents Abroad and My Cousin Rachel as reading material both of which contain journeys of discovery.

(The CIA chose a very sensitive person for once to act as their undercover agent and Matthiessen’s cover was as one of the founders of the Paris Review.)

Whatever the story behind the man, he was a sensitive soul in tune with the Himalayan mountains and Buddhism. I am grateful to him for introducing me to esoteric concepts that I may never have understood if it had not been for his explanations. The book is studded with religious and philosophical gems and glimpses into Tibetan culture and here I leave a few samples:-

“The Holy Grail is what Zen Buddhists call our own ‘true nature’; each man is his own saviour after all.”

Enlightenment or prajna(pre-enlightenment?) for a man or woman is explained thus-’A profound vision of his identity with universal life, past, present, and future, that keeps man from doing harm to others and sets him free from fear of birth-and-death.’

Tibetan Book of the Dead–”a guide for the living, actually, since it teaches that a man’s last thoughts will determine the quality of his reincarnation.”

“As the hand held before the eye conceals the greatest mountain, so the little earthly life hides from the glance the enormous lights and mysteries of which the world is full, and he who can draw it away from before his eyes, as one draws away a hand, beholds the great shining of the inner worlds”–Rabbi Nachmann of Bratzlav.

“When you are ready, Buddhists say, the teacher will appear.”

In the end I learned a great motto which I feel I knew in the back of my mind but now had been verbalised with two words–”Expect Nothing”–’Eido Roshi had warned me on the day I left.’

 

Gucci and Jimmy Choo

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The first thing to trouble me was my requirement for medicines in my daily life. I am a sick man, a hidden one, I have not come out ot the closet with my sickness. I am asthmatic, I have high blood pressure and have numerous other old man’s niggling ailments which I cure with a plethora of allopathic, homeopathic and ayurvedic panaceas. I also use a nebulizer now and it has become necessary since the maids have unfortunately passed on the desperate colds and flus they had. It is mortally dangerous for me these colds and I have decided to take flu shots (which I denounced earlier) in future to fight these invaders of the nasal and bronchial passages.

I am a bit afraid of taking these medicines to Dubai. I might be arrested for smuggling drugs. I meet my doctors again and get the necessary prescriptions and then go on a medicine buying spree. You will be glad to know that the baggage allowed on airlines to Dubai is 30Kg checked in  and 7 Kg cabin baggage. So half of my big suitcase is full of medicines and the heavy nebulizer.

To cut a long story short, we arrive at the amazing Dubai airport and no one gives a damn for what I am carrying. This truly is a free country only if you obey all the laws. Women from various countries are roaming around in skimpy dresses while arab women cluster in their black flowing garbs(but in Jimmy Choo shoes and Gucci bags) watching this mela of life passing before their eyes.IMG_8751IMG_8753IMG_8754