Chicken Curry for the Migrant Soul

Migrant eateries are fragments of home or Bari/Basha/Ghar in the Khaleej/Gulf. A cramped coffee shop turned rotir dokan or a bread shop which offers murgir jhol, daal, cholaar buut and the sujir halwa, is like a panacea for the migrant looking for a pocket friendly but a sumptuous bite. The chicken curry was like for me in a typical Bengali kitchen in Kolkata and the tandoori rotis were baked hot. The Dal was homely, and the Suji Halwa was ideal, not sweet and brought back memories of a past which recedes in memory. Taste is a rich node of memory and recollection.

The bylanes of towns in the Gulf hold such spaces, which are geographically interchangeable. This dhaba could have easily been in Bengal but it is in an overseas realm. The atmosphere was buzzing with prantik bangla or the vernacular and it was a spatio temporal continuum demarcated by the door, with no signages, which makes its Bangladeshi character evident. The plastic table and stools and the cramped area, was symptomatic of a Dhaba.

I was transported to a different slice of the Bangladeshi Diaspora in Singapore at Rowell Road/Desker Road where Ghorowa and Khana Basmati served similar fare. Me and my friend from Lucknow paid a bill of an equivalent of SGD 6.

#migranttales @ Al Khuwair Muscat, Oman

The Probashi on the Gono Vote

I encounter Bangladeshis everyday here in the Gulf from the office to supermarkets to restaurants, watching poll related videos and the discussions can be rather heated. People are subconsciously connected to their notion of Desh, Gram and Bari through watsapp, the digital wonder kid and Facebook. For Bangladeshis, the poll is really vital. Usually they are BNP supporters but they do acknowledge the infrastructure growth and development work done by AL. They seemed to like the idea of the Dhaka Metro, as Modernity finally arriving home.

Politics back home is never back home, it is embodied through the digital.


Celebrate Scholarship

‘The Best of XYZ/The Next Generation’ lists are a reflection of an ingrained bias or a selection preferences of the editorial team of an organisation. But let’s look at any list from the prism of potential, rather than purely through the lens of analytical metric of social justice, or is it unfair even to exclude this lens in the times that we live in?

Have we lost the innocence to celebrate talent without interrogating every single thing to death? Ultimately these people such as the The Wire Listing of Public Intellectuals in India is the thought process of a few selected individuals who have chosen the select few. But this does take away the merit of these individuals even if they were not selected, or those individuals who missed the list, that such a non random selection, emasculates their scholarship in any way.

Let’s celebrate talent for what it is rather than labelling it as anything.

Opportunism as Analytical Category

The Economic Skilled Migrant Diaspora is an entity, where it is connected on the margins of two homes, the old and the adopted. Never at peace, wants the money of the new home, and the familial feeling of the old craving for importance in both. They need to become CEOs of tech firms while attending all of Temple events in Houston, praising ancient culture while checking the news update on the NDTV app. There cannot be an analytical formation for them apart from being deeply opportunistic.

A Year in Writing 2018

It’s been an incredible year in writing with yours truly scribbling for the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore with Dr Nisha in a follow up to my talk in May this year. It was a pleasure to catch up with the dynamic Wade Shepard in Muscat in February and be extensively quoted in his article on Ad Duqm in August in The Gaurdian.

I started writing for SAFPO as a non traditional security contributor to Asia Analyst Debasis Dash’s web blog. I was wrote on the gulf migrant cinematic experience for The World of Apu edited by Ramchander Krishna and Anusha Srinivasan.

I started the year by contributing to the Future Jobs Book by the New Indian Express on Environmental Engineering as a career. The book is my first contribution to a book in hard copy.

I enjoy writing as a craft and as a medium to make us more relatable. I also writing for independent entrepreneurial media platforms where the idea prevails rather than the brand. My humble creative blog, has a near 21k hits and I complete 8 years of scribbling for it.

My writing life is a trace paper to my real life as I write in consulting for a living. Oman and this wider region is an inheritance as well as my destiny . I look forward to writing more on narratives which make our place in our communities more liveable with voices with a small ‘v’. I have been fortunate to travel throughout Oman this year, understanding and comprehending the times that we reside in. No academic or editorial gatekeeper can mute my voice, as I will contribute to the discourse on ideas, big and small.

My Sustainability Compass

I am not a tree hugger, but I fundamentally believe that Sustainability is a serious enabler for enhancing liveability and resilience across communities with hard science at the best cost with the optimal social licence. The entire climate change argument, seems to have turned in to the seminar and conference circuit. The engineers and the planners with the best models to determine the flood risk and further develop climate adaptive infrastructure. Climate Change requires risk to be quantified in to monetary terms.

Where is the money for massive decarbonisation journeys? All financial Institutions shall require climate risk assessment of infra financing. Over the last decade, the share of conventional sources of energy stays at 81 percent. The increase in power demand is bridged by renewables. Making conventional power work in a climate risk era is a conversation that is often amiss. They are still the major occupant of the energy mix. Creating the devil out of traditional oil and gas along with coal will not help. Let’s bring the climate conversation back to the lab from the conference room. Decarbonisation will entail land use change. Where are the compensation packages for land acquisition ? Most infrastructure projects are still born due to faulty social impact assessments. Sustainable development is about people, let’s bring the rigorous method back in to our impact assessments with serious stake holder assessment and predictive models.