This morning as Delhi crossed the borders, I was in a taxi driven by an elderly Chacha from Lahore, a good man was giving me tips to navigate the city’s taxi system and the ERP system here called Salik. He was talking about Rahmat, Halal and beautiful things.

Do migrants afford nationalisms?


Everyday dreams die

As the past stings back

Catharsis is half baked

As the past, lives on

The present is a vague design

The trace paper of the past

Has left a mould

A scaffold

An imprint is not adequate

The mould of the past

Fills up the present

Salon Nights

Joy of listening to cheap romantic Bollywood music in a South Asian Salon on Friday Midnight in Dubai. The choicest of tracks are played which are as syrupy as ever. Atif and Arijit dominant the sonic landscapes of this salon. The energy levels are phenomenal even at this late hour.

Most barber shops are run by UP walas from Banki District in Muscat at least.

Sustainability: The Tri Sector Athletic Approach to solving problems

Sustainability is a popular major in college now a days with prominent universities launching academic programs such as SMU in Singapore with DBS Bank supporting it. It’s excellent to hear business majors reading about social finance and circular economy. Sustainability has always been a complex art and science, with the society at its core and ecology as its fulcrum. Sustainability thus is a multi headed hydra, a shape shifting construct whose genes are triggered by its environmental factors literally.

In order to understand and implement sustainability in the everyday, a complex adaptive systems approach has to be adopted as it sits at the nexus of law, economics, science and society. The dynamics evolve rapidly. The best soil and groundwater expert I have worked with had degrees in electronics engineering and the best EIA experts only had read undergraduate degrees in science. Operationalising sustainability needs hard science and would require economists as well as engineers and ecologists to work on multidimensional projects. Climate Finance is not only the realm of the CFA but also of the meteorologist. The hydrology expert who does Flood Risk Studies would be needed as well to calculate risk factors for climate risk insurance products. The anthropologist will help understand the ramifications of flooding on social ties and the political scientist can converse on water security. The public policy expert or the policy maker will take all these inputs to curate regional policies for urban areas or regulate GHG emissions. Sustainability needs tri sector athletes, to navigate power terrains of varied typologies. Solutions will burst out of the bulging disciplinary seams of expert hegemony, and hopefully citizen science or social science will emerge. Sustainability for sure needs to be more a youth conference circuit talking point.

Jobs and Migrants

The world of gulf migrants revolve around visas, medical tests, salaries, remittances, rents, salary cuts and delays, termites on the bed and calls back home. Life is lived between flights or plans of flights back home. Generations have worked in this region from South Asia and the story continues. This is particularly true of tier B or C city residents who seek a better life, when when top tier school grads are struggling to find jobs back home.

Conversation with Cabbies: Dubai Edition

Couple of cool cab conversations today, with an Ethiopian who speaks Hindi fluently, from the border of Somalia who is here for two decades, recommended Al Habshi restaurants for traditional Ethiopian fare. We spoke about the new president whom he clearly likes. He is clearly at ease in the multicultural milieu that he is in.

Another ride got me going speaking with a cabbie from Chittagong, who will be soon starting his own cleaning business with a partner here in Dubai after 15 years of working as a transporter. He was encouraging entrepreneurship as he was speaking in Bangla that, Dubai is a vibrant city with those with energy and ideas.

The Ethiopian certainly spoke better Hindi than the Bangladeshi. Globalisation is fluid and surprises oneself everyday.


A Book Launch in Dubai Mall: A Photo Essay

Attended an impromptu Book Launch at Kinokuniya, Dubai Mall of an Egyptian American Civil Engineer turned Cook Book Author Hanan Sayed, where a bunch of well heeled cool book enthusiasts were present including other restaurant owners (The Bearded Bakers from Sydney were a hawt favourite of the fashionable crowd). There was a MBC crew as well.

The author read out her introduction which is on the nomadic global cuisine of Abu Dhabi as her family has lived here for 25 years. It sounded like an essay on the social anthropology of food in Abu Dhabi.

#Dubai @ Kinokuniya BookStore Dubai Mall

Get Real Data First

More than big data, there is an acute need of proper primary data where it is not available on public databases and proxy indicator driven data is incomplete at best.

Rather than depicting the right baseline, we are often more concerned with the analysis. We need start ups who would collect basic data first and then think about visualisation, and predictive analytics.

Any app yet to replace the field anthropologist to collect cold objective data from respondents for policy makers? Ofcourse remote sensing and GIS spatial analytics help a great deal.