Dubai witnessed one of the craziest cash runs into it’s economy. Most of it went into real estate. Outlay out-dreamed demand. Reality mattered little when it came to realty. Desert, a place with nothing but land of sand with oil beneath and a 360 degree horizon, was being transformed into a Manhattan or Shanghai. In the past a large water body attracted settlements in deserts. Now it’s structures of steel, concrete and glimmering glass facades. Even desert land was shamed by this appetite. Sea was claimed, tamed and landscaped. “If you build it, he will come” was the premise of the Hollywood film Field of Dreams. An Iowa farmer hears voices instructing to build a baseball field in his farm to invite ghosts of legends past to play. The film ends happily for it can choose to end where it wants. Dubai has to endure the 2008 credit market crash.
If you build it, they will come.
Mumbai beaches are a repugnant sight after high tide. The receding sea litters the beach with another sea of rubbish. The waves of cash crashing into the Dubai economy has left behind a similar metaphorical litter on it’s exit trail. The facade is still pretty but the skeletons of unfinished and forgotten highrises will perhaps be preserved for ages as monuments to our era of excesses. History had Pharaohs and their pyramids, we have our politician-financier nexus and their highrises.
The succour provided my cousin’s comfortable shelter from an obstinate mid-monsoon Malabar thunderstorm was disrupted by the full screen graphic text on a popular English language news channel. ‘BREAKING NEWS: THREE BLASTS ROCK MUMBAI’. Instinctively I paused. Even as I was cranking up the volume, a fast-clipped high-pitched narration of a near-breathless male voice consumed all attention. ‘Three simultaneous explosions have been reported at three separate locations in Mumbai and we are awaiting further information about the nature and intensity of the blasts’. Without a moment’s pause, the voice proceeded to paraphrase the same over and over again for the next few minutes. The full-screen textual graphic announcing the ‘breaking news’ vanished every few seconds and reappeared letter by letter, plastering itself to announce the grim news yet again. The announcer remained hidden from view. The feverish pace of the narrator combined with fast changing graphic visual succeeded in maintaining a perception that fresh news was being delivered every second. The pressure to deliver some new information was also taking it’s toll on the news reader probably because his time was running out too. The channel’s star news reader must have been on his way to replace him. This, to me, was yet another instance to reflect on the age of brash shameless opportunism.
In cases of emergencies at places of public gathering, crowds are urged to exit in a calm and orderly manner. This is the most assured method of evacuating quickly and without substantial physical damage. This has been a universally accepted idea. One that is gaining newer adopters. However, this idea constrains itself to physical harm only. What about mental anguish? Is that not important? The news channels cause a virtual stampede on the airwaves in their efforts to deliver fresh and exclusive news to it’s viewers. Veracity goes undetected as yet another victim of the macabre. It seems that the considerations afforded to how speech and visuals could negatively impact someone is being neglected each passing day in favour of a better shield for the physical. ‘Mind over matter’ has become just another convenient cocktail catchphrase.
The competition for the top spot of men’s tennis rankings has always seen a clash of legendary individuals; each one not just out-muscling others on the court with their skills, fitness and tactics but also with the force of their personality. Connors, McEnroe, Borg, Sampras, Agassi, Federer, Nadal each brought their unique talent to the sport but what makes their contributions that much more significant is that they climbed the pinnacle with such stark differences in personalities. Borg the unflappable, Sampras the nerd, Agassi the flamboyant, Federer the quiet professional, Nadal the fighter. After watching the performance of Djokovic against Nadal in the Wimbledon finals we may be on the threshold of the era of Djokovic the dramatist.
Djokovic making his move on grass.
Federer and Nadal, the two undisputed champions of the past decade made the wait for each Grand Slam worth the anticipation because their seeding would ensure a contest between these titans for the finale. While we witnessed many such clashes in Paris and London, other’s stepped up occasionally with a motivated day in the office to play spoil sport in New York and Melbourne. Barring the epic Wimbledon final and Nadal’s christening title win, most other contests between these two have been a one sided affair. Nadal dominated Federer on clay and even beat him at Wimbledon and Melbourne with predictable regularity. There is no doubt that Federer’s aura of invincibility is on the decline. But just as men’s tennis was bracing for an era of Nadal cantering towards record breaking titles, Djokovic awakens to his potential.