Archive for February, 2011

It was a beautiful day. It began with a chill but the temperatures rose a little to comfortable levels, the sky was a beautiful blue and here in this little corner it seemed that all was right with the world. It was the annual mobike show in Kuwait and the second Concours d Elegance. They were both held at the Marina Crescent. Now I do not know much about either cars or bikes, but that does not restrict my enjoyment of these beautiful machines, which were crafted to suit individual style and taste and I was filled with much wonder and awe as I wandered among them.

Bikes have long been a passion of many young men in Kuwait and every visit to the Arabian Gulf Street is rewarded by glimpses of them wheeling or racing. There seem to be a number of big powerful bikes of all kinds, colours and shapes, which race and wheel through the main traffic on Gulf road all day long. Most of these have been customized, which seems a kind of signature of the owner. We see them all the time but the show gave us a chance of coming close to them.
Bikes are a passion not just in Kuwait but the entire Gulf area and on this day they had come from all over, riding overland to join in this bike show. There were bikers from Saudi, Dubai, Bahrain, and many other countries. The Saudi riders were from different Saudi cities.

The population of Kuwait is composed of many nationalities from around the world. It was like a small representation of the world all come together for the single purpose, of enjoying the day as well as this annual event….

….and the bikes, many of which were showcases of what ingenuity and imagination can achieve when coupled with a passion and ready availability of funds.

My daughter managed to get some really good close up shots of the bikes, here are some pics courtesy daughter Z aka purple moonbeams. http://ephemeralimpressions.blogspot.com/

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The fact that change is inevitable, is a constant in our world. There are changes that we bring about and changes that happens over which we have no control. There are changes we look forward to like going to university, falling in love, getting a job, moving out, moving on in life, getting married, having children. There are also changes we fear; illnesses, empty nests, loss of livelihood or wealth, divorce, death, etc. Once certain changes have happened we cannot go back to being who we were. Change is a great teacher and irrespective of being good or bad, it always teaches us life’s important lessons and helps us to develop, grow and mature some more.

Different people react to change differently. There are those who are so afraid of it that they will live a life of discomfort or penury rather than risk taking a decision that will change their lives. However wretched their circumstances, they will trudge and toil through life rather than find an alternative that might give them a better existence. They fear that in trying to better their lives they may end up losing what little they have. The fear shackles them to their daily grind. We see them each day walking to work, taking buses, trains, the metro or the underground. Tied to the routine and tedium of life, counting pennies, scrimping, saving, getting old with worries before their time but never willing to take a chance.

Then there are those whose unspoken motto is ‘Carpe Diem’. They boldly seize the day, they are ready to chase their dreams to the ends of the Earth. These are two kinds of people. There are those who through history have travelled to cities or distant lands in search of their livelihood and a better life. Tradesmen, artisans, poets, minstrels, soldiers, tradesmen, etc, come under this category, as do students. In today’s times too they exist; people who travel to cities or to other countries, settle there, take root and flourish on foreign soil. A time comes when they have found financial security and a decent standard of living they become so comfortable with their circumstances that they do not wish to change a thing. Sometimes though, change comes to them in unexpected ways as global policies and politics cannot always be predicted.

There are others though, others who changed not only their own lives but also made sure that the entire world changed due to their exploits. These are the restless, the seekers, the dreamers; sailors charting unknown seas, the adventurers and explorers because of whom, we know all that we know of the world today, scientists and researchers, those who are always on a quest, the great travellers and historians. They are found even today, climbing mountains, plumbing ocean depths, fathoming the mysteries of the universe, making great scientific and medical discoveries, discovering flora and fauna and new environments, digging up secrets and the treasures of the past, finding sustainable ways for the human race to live.

Then their are those who brought change because of their greed and lust for power and wealth. The warmongerers and conquerors whose vicious brutalities have left scars throughout the history of the world, scars so deep that they cannot be erased. These too exist today, not just those who wreak violence on the world by war and terror but also captains of industry and politicians who for their own selfish reasons of making profits, wreak havoc on the environment, many times causing irreparable damage to lives and health.

to be continued…….

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I love crockery and sometimes pick up odd pieces that fascinate me. When the kids were small, I had picked up two cereal bowls with funny looking faces and protruding noses. These became a great hit with the girls and each laid claim to one. The younger one’s bowl is long gone, a sacrifice to my slapdash dishwashing skills (I was probably thinking of a poem at that moment), but even over a decade later, the elder one’s survives and she still eats her cornflakes from it.

Z the elder daughter, does not mind sharing her bowl but B the younger one is extremely possessive about all her things and neither uses anything other than those things which she claims as hers, nor does she like anyone touching her things. That’s not to say she is not generous, she is extremely so and has always been lavish in spending on gifts for others, even with her limited resources, by which I of course mean her meagre pocket money. She just doesn’t like her things to be used by anyone other than herself. How different from our childhood.

When we were growing up life was unpredictable. We always had a house full of guests. None of us could claim a room, or even a bed as our own, much less personal crockery. It may look like a bad thing to those who cannot imagine life without a room of their own but I can only think of it as a good thing, for not only did we become extremely adaptable and could sleep anywhere, even on a mattress on the terrace, or on the sofa and I still can, but it also afforded us with new experiences. There was a camaraderie in sleeping in a row under the stars, sharing jokes and stories, laughing and giggling, watching the constellations, or sometimes a meteor whizz across the sky and later the planes.

We lived close to the airport and the route the planes always took while taking off and sometimes coming in to land during bad weather, was directly over our building. As we lay on the terrace, we could see plane after plane fly off thunderingly, into the inky darkness, from right above us. The international flights, mainly 747 Jumbo jets, usually flew in the night then. We knew all the tails and I think my knowledge of countries truly grew because of that. There weren’t as many airlines then, as are there now. We siblings grew closer because of all that sleeping on the terrace, led us to share. We were detached from things, but we grew in our attachment to each other and have many shared experiences because of that.

We grew up thinking that it was a normal everyday thing to go out of your way to accommodate relatives, friends and even strangers, as our father, a staunch believer in the strong Eastern traditions of hospitality, drilled into us, that a guest was a gift of God and his needs were always to be given priority over our own. How different from the way things are now.

Today, as I was washing up, a thought struck me about possessiveness. When we claim something as ours, then we don’t only keep people out we also limit ourselves only to that.

Using the same thing day after day shuts off the chance of new encounters and new experiences. Yet once one achieves a certain level of comfort with a certain thing, then one is loath to give it up. It goes beyond comfort though, there is a strange feeling of dependability on that which is not only familiar but is also one’s own. That subconsciously helps one develop a feeling of security. For me there are two things I cannot do without, one is my tea mug, which though ugly, and as a rule I hate ugly things, is still the right shape and size, which according to me a mug should be. To me my morning cup of tea is very important and so is its amount. The other is my latex pillow, which is just the right thickness and softness that enables me to have a good night’s sleep and helps me fall asleep faster than anything ever has. The two things afford me a level of well-being I am comfortable with. If either is taken away, I am uneasy. It is neither more nor less than that. Yet normally possessiveness concerning things, goes much deeper than this.

Humans have a deep need to own things. To lay a claim, to things big and small, around them. It is for pride of ownership, which in turn many need, to develop an image of themselves, but it goes far beyond that. One needs in this ephemeral world, not just things for the sake of ownership, but also for their dependability. One needs to know that some things will stay unchanged. This gives a sense of security because life is full of unknown factors. That is also why we establish routines perhaps. We need to have some sort of control. Create around us surroundings, which we can control and predict. We may seek adventures, but we always like to have the familiar waiting for our return. However far we stray, we need to know that somewhere in the world, some things are just as we left them and we can find them whenever we choose. Sometimes the things are small, sometimes big. Whatever it is, there is always some factor of emotional security as well as mental well being attached to it. Yet ironically, the only real thing one can depend upon, is change. Change is inevitable. The agents of time, both nature and man, work unceasingly to assure that everything and everyone grows, develops, changes, ages, passes on and even breaks, tears or falls into ruin, to be replaced by other things. Time, marked by watches and calenders actually marches on leaving the marks of its passage in numerous ways that always assure change.

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