The more people I work with I develop more empathy. I wish I had learned this earlier: people are people. They all have the same issues, the same stories. Everyone struggles at different levels. Every is scared. Everyone is insecure, vulnerable – on a gradient of intensity. The more people I work with the more empathy I develop for nationalities, genders, opinions, etc.

As I pass thru the corridors of my workplace I look at people wondering if they care? If they wonder why I am looking at them? If they wonder the same about me? If they are better than me? If they are smarter than me? If they are happier than me? And the more people I meet, work, sit and talk with I realize we are more similar than different.

Then there is the imposter syndrome but I will leave that topic for a later exploration.

I think I have been conditioned in a certain way in last 30 years. Some of these conditionings are:

  • 10 girls to 25 boys in a class.
  • All boys school from 7th grade onwards.
  • Girls score grades and boys become street smart.
  • Girls get married and their husbands outshine in careers.
  • Physical beauty is real beauty
  • Girls maintain kitchen and boys geek out.
  • I am smart, others are not.
  • Love equals marriage.
  • Marriage equals children.
  • I am not smart as the white folks, non Pakistani folks, rich folks, other folks.
  • Boys only court girls.
  • Other people are always right.
  • There is a single right way of doing things and only other people know what that right way is.
  • Worry about how you chew, how you fold your shirts, how you speak, how you dress, how you comb your hair
  • Worry about making Queen Victoria happy in her grave.
  • Worry about what other people will say.
  • Worry about if everyone is happy.
  • Indians are evil
  • Westerners are immoral
  • Judgement passing is ok
  • Perfect is better than done
  • Elders are always right
  • People are born to fulfill their god-anointed role and for some people it is being dark skinned christians in Pakistan cleaning sewerage only

Just to mention a few. (It is a very complicated society with a lot of good and bad and everything in between).

This turns into conditioning because everyone around me is following the same curriculum. There is no diversity. Its only when you work, live, talk, sit with other humans that you realize there is no single truth, no single way. Queen Victoria’s etiquettes are not the end of the world and her passive aggressive clones are not the only people who deserve to be made happy all the time. That the world is much larger than my need to look like the cool boys in the next street or to become as cool as the rich uncle.

At this point in my life I think diversity and inclusion is very, very important – probably more than schooling and academics. This is, among other major changes, that I have been feeling lately.

Dear Diary: Dubai Airport

Aug 10, 2014 – 8.00pm

Dear Diary,
Now I make a promise to myself. You see, if you don’t travel too much, you fall prey to a lot of luring by big brands. There is so many fine bottle of spirits n wines that you can gift to someone, you can buy yourself a pair of Police sunglasses or treat yourself with a burger chain you probably would not get a chance to eat anytime soon. But one has to draw a line. I promised myself I would not spend a single euro at the Dubai airport – one of the most alluring airports i have ever seen.
An airport is a very fascinating place.In most countries, it usually reflects the culture and temperament of the nation that built it. With Dubai, it’s different. There is nothing, not even speck, arabic about this airport. Its luxurious. Its international.
They are fascinating because you get to see so many different kinds of people at the same time that for a second it really makes you realise your true place in the world. All sorts of people.
At the same time it’s depressing. It shows you that you are one of those rare few who can afford to take a flight. Who can afford to travel around and even do window shopping at world’s top brand outlets. Most people in the world don’t even know these brands names, let alone know where to find them. All the artificialness of the airport, the squeaky cleanliness, the allure and grandeur makes the whole situation so much more hopeless. Do we really need airports with marble floors more squeaky clean than the drinking water of half of the world? IS it really worth it to buy something from these so called “duty free” shops – knowing that the extra you are paying them is going to get invested in these brands only getting bigger? Why do all the janitors have to be of a certain race here? Where are all the ugly people? … FOr a second you can really get lost and forget that there is a world out there that cannot imagine, in their wildest dreams, how dubai airport would look like.
Hence I make a promise to myself not to spend a euro here. To refrain. I can spend it and then I can “roll with the punches” of my impulse and adjust rest of the budget accordingly. But why? Fuck corporation, fuck capitalism, fuck oligarchy, fuck affluent lifestyle.
I feel hungry even though I had a good breakfast in the plane just an hour or so ago. I’ll abstain till I get to my next flight. They’ll hopefully serve something nicer. These guys are going to rip me off on currency converting.
Good bye