Opinion 2015

Quiet tribute – Short Take – Gulf Today Dt 21st March 2015

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Short Take: Quiet tribute
March 21, 2015, Gulf Today
A short break of two weeks. In a way tried my best to keep silent from as many activities as possible. It was an effort to join a divine bliss. In the process I learnt a lot of things including an increased confidence to practise the art of not to react impulsively to circumstances and realities.
The silence was indirectly to show my tribute to join the sorrow of a friend whose mother passed away. I know the feelings and void created when a person we love a lot in our life suddenly departs. I had experienced it the recent times, when my mother in law and my grandmother passed away. Many times, I was stuck with whom to ask certain things when I needed guidance. Of course, life went on and will.
Motherhood is a special feeling beyond explanation. Back from my leave, at work on a busy morning, I listened to a colleague of mine busily phoning and ordering birthday cake for her son. It was a hectic day and in between the busy tasks, she found time to order the cake specially decorated with her son’s favorite football teams design. She was arranging other gifts too to the little boy.
It brought tears in my eyes as I suddenly remembered, how my mother who was a teacher during my childhood days, come back from her school with a gift, either a shirt or a colouring set. Those days transportation was not easy and she had to change three buses to get back home from the school. It used to be late by the time she reach back home. But even then, she never missed to show her affection and love for us.
A casual talk with my colleagues revealed the general trend with children these days. They are pampered with costly gifts; mobiles, Ipads, laptops and what not. So, it is a big challenge now for parents to offer them with a gift which will remain impressive with the children at least for some amount of time.
Challenges aplenty for the modern day mothers. But, their affection and love will remain forever, however fast modernisation happens. This is a fact proven many times in the world around.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Walking reminds of an older time – The National Dt 27 February 2015

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Walking reminds of an older time

Your article, Taken at walking pace, Abu Dhabi becomes a very different city (February 23), has prompted nostalgic memories of earlier days in Abu Dhabi.
There were limited taxis and buses so most people used to walk to work and back home. This provided the opportunity to see the city progressing and also led to more sun exposure. I believe there were fewer cases of vitamin D deficiency then than there are now.
Back in those days, the electronic gadgets of the modern era did not exist so people lived in the present more. It meant it was easier to meet people, possibly starting long friendships.
Now people are so distracted that I feel concerned when I see them ignoring their own safety by walking or crossing the road while using mobile phones.
I believe The National’s #startwalking campaign will be a great success, but it is also important for the authorities to ensure the streets and pathways are more user-friendly for pedestrians.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
To read it in original, please visit The National online

Bus stops should be inspected – Letters to the editor – The National Dt 26 February 2015

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Bus stops should be inspected

Bus stops should be inspected Thank you for highlighting the need to keep our city’s bus stops clean (Clean cities not cleaned enough, February 24).
That’s not the only problem. There are some covered bus stops where doors are damaged. They should be inspected regularly.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

The National 26 February 2015

Fountain of joy – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 21 February 2015

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Fountain of joy
The famous Qasr Al Hosn Festival 2015 is happening in Abu Dhabi now. The event has a deep-rooted history connected with the country and in particular Abu Dhabi.
It was my honour to be associated with it as the festival had a special section to recreate and present the Lest We Forget: Structures of Memory in the UAE exhibited at the famous Venice Architectural Biennale.
The national pavilion of the UAE was the exact replica of what was exhibited and my exhibits on one of the architectural marvels that existed in Abu Dhabi from 1984 – 2004: the Volcano Fountain were present in it.
On one of the days, I was invited to a presentation and an interactive workshop on it to share my memories and exhibits.
It was a working day and I was keen to be there early and awaited my audience. The crowd started coming in small numbers. As we started interacting, an elderly national and his children came to attend. He was not comfortable following the English presentation and a lady volunteer helped him with the translation.
As he blended with the subject, there came a chest of knowledge treasure from him. He was in the army for a long time and told us about those days when there was absolutely no modern facilities. The then Ruler late Sheikh Zayed is said to have drawn plans with his sticks on the sand and corrected the architects whenever things were not done as per his plans.
By the end of the session, it was one of the most memorable interactions we ever had on the subject in the recent times. We were excited to listen to the way he carried his memories and conveyed to us as well as his children and grandchildren who were with him.
We all wished and enlivened the day when the new Volcano Fountain will come into existence in the new developments happening in Abu Dhabi.
Ramesh Menon

Gulf Today – Short Take – Dt 21 February 2015
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Ten UAE residents share their experiences with road rage – Gulf News Dt 15 February 2015

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Dubai: Those who pick up bad road habits seldom consider the consequences of their actions which may lead to severe road hazards.
Though texting while driving, among other bad road habits, has become as frequent as using car indicators, the action remains unjustifiable.
Gulf News reveals some bad experiences of UAE residents on the road, including their reaction to some of the incidents they encountered.
Colonel Jamal Al Bannai, Acting Director of Dubai Traffic Police, said that Dubai Police urge people to follow traffic rules and regulations. “People should not underestimate those violations, even if they think it’s minor, because they can lead to traffic jams and accidents.”
He added that people put their lives and the lives of others at risk by committing these offences, because they are not fully aware of the dangers of what they are doing.

Dubai Police, Al Bannai said, do not go easy on offenders and issue them fines.

“Speed thrill and impatience are two of the worst driving habits I’ve witnessed on the roads in the UAE. When it’s winter and foggy, early morning hours on highways are dangerous due to poor visibility. Poor visibility added with impatience of some drivers becomes one of the main reasons for accidents during this time. But, fog is not always the case. Two recent instances still haunt my memory and were caused by speeding. One day, a speeding car ignored the warning signs on the road and ended up colliding with the roadwork barriers on the highway. The car later caught fire. In another incident, a young man on a motorbike was speeding and weaving through the traffic that was halting due to an accident. He was driving so fast that he couldn’t brake. He ended up hitting another vehicle ahead. Both situations could have been averted had they been patient on the road.”

Speed limit – Gulf Today – Dt 14 February 2015

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Speed limit
The other day, I was in a car driven by a young colleague. She was keen to show her driving skills to us and was driving well. At some point of time, I felt she was going a bit fast or above the limit. Not to discourage her, we started talking about the road safety issues, particularly speeding.
She was too fast to understand the point of view and said to us, “I am driving through this road every day. I know where the cameras are placed and where to reduce the speed. Do not worry.”
Do we get to read the mind of the other drivers on the road at the same time with us! Do we get to know in advance, if they do a dangerous fast move cutting across our pathway? Will it be possible to control the vehicle at that point if we too are speeding? No, will be my answer at all times. Road safety is of utmost importance, particularly caution towards speeding. After a particular speed, it would be impossible to control the vehicle, how much ever skilled one is. It is, therefore, advisable to stay within the speed limit and adhere to the road safety instructions set by the authorities.
Let safety for you, for me and for all, be remembered and reminded whenever we are on the road.

Ramesh Menon  
Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 14 February 2015
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Prize for dedication – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 07 February 2015

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Prize for dedication

I have expressed this particular emotional feeling within me before. It keeps coming back. To be or not to be a socially committed person? To address or not my observations for improvements to the authorities or not?

I keep saying to myself. No, I will not act or react any further when I get to see negative or even threatening responses at times. I tell myself, do not see things as you see, close your eyes and walk away from the realities.
Can I do that? Honestly, No, is the answer.
I was in the middle of a meeting two days ago and my phone rang. It was an unknown number and the lady at the other end, an officer from the Abu Dhabi Police, verified me and said, you are selected for an award. “Please attend and receive it on Thursday at a function to be held at our premises.”
I asked her what was it and what did that made them select me for it. She answered to me saying, “You have contributed with several valuable suggestions and hence you are one of the recipients for it.”

I went to receive it on Thursday and found myself among a group of officers from the Abu Dhabi authorities privileged to receive the prestigious Ministry of Interior Excellence Award.

Interacting with them I found one common thing, we all carried the same zest for quality and social commitments to make sure safety is of utmost importance at all times.

There was also one thing I noticed, we all did our personal or professional contributions, which paved the way for this award, without aiming for any recognition.
However, it turned out to be a winner for each one of us at a time, when we all literally forgot them. For me specially, when a time, when I was thinking of weighing the pros and cons of such initiatives carried out by me.

It proved the old saying, what you sow is what you reap. Make it a practice to give your best efforts to do good things and a time will definitely come with its reward.

Ramesh Menon
Gulf Today, Short Take Dt 07 February 2015
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

Airport wisdom – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 31 January 2015

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Airport wisdom
Travelling offers plenty of opportunities to observe, interact and learn many new things from people and places.
The other day, I was at the airport waiting to board the plane and suddenly a medical emergency came up and it was delayed. Tired and restless passengers joined as groups and started conversing with each other. I happened to be with passengers from the US, Belgium and Switzerland. Our talks led to an interesting question to each other, why we were travelling where we were travelling to!
The elderly person from the US was a citizen of Indian origin, but still keeping connections with his family and friends. It was too cold where he was living and since at his age he couldn’t withstand it, he was moving on to India for a few months.
The traveller from Belgium was travelling for the first time and he was full of expectations towards his holidays from the fascinating stories he heard from his friends who came before.
The third person, who was from Switzerland, was proceeding to India after a brief stopover in the United Arab Emirates. He told us that his daughter, when she was a small child had read about the UAE, its history and culture. From then, she was keen on visiting the UAE at least once.
What she did was to find an educational programme that suited her and was utilising one full semester period in the UAE.
“With this visit, I could see my girl in the UAE and then proceed to India, which is closer to UAE and fulfil my dream of visiting the historic and cultural abundance,” he said.
Keep trying and do it when you get the chance — however long it takes. I am sure, your goals and dreams will come true, if you keep an attitude of this sort.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in original, please visit Gulf Today online

That’s the spirit – Gulf Today – Short Take Dt 24 January 2015

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That’s the spirit
I was at a sports meet organised for children during the weekend.
It was interesting to see boys and girls coming early in the morning and competing with each other to win in each event they participated.
The weather was excellent and so was the ambience.
There was one event where children in pairs had to run together with one leg each of the participant tied to the other. With limited coaching I found a pair of girls winning well ahead of their competitors.
In another race, a group of girls competed against each other. A few of them ran really fast. When the race finished I saw all of them together sharing their experiences.
Among them was a girl who despite losing, remained very positive and told others, “Hey, I lost.” What a spirit!
Those were the most beautiful words I listened to in the recent times.
We have a lot to learn observing our children.

Ramesh Menon
To read it in the original, please visit Gulf Today online