June 16, 2008

The World is Flat

My life is full of coincidences. I was reading, rather re reading “The World is Flat” and suddenly an opportunity came my way to do a whirlwind trip of Dubai. So I boarded the flight from Mumbai yesterday night and right now am sitting in Dubai International Airport, almost confirming my belief that the world is indeed flat. I have flown out of one country, landed in another, worked through the day with nationals from different countries, window shopped at what looked like the World’s Showcase and right now am sitting outside the gate leading to the aircraft that will take me back to my Mumbai and it’s not even 30 hours since I left Mumbai.

I like Mumbai airport. It’s not very far from the main city, (depending on the traffic of course) and hopefully when it’s complete, it’ll be as snazzy and jazzy as the big International airports around the world. But the sad part about being in an airport on a weekday on Wednesday is that no one picks up your calls at 7 in the evening. I also like Dubai Airport. The wi-fi is without any hassles. You just switch on the wireless network switch on your laptop and you are connected immediately. So the net understanding I took away is that all my friends love to be online at night rather than take my calls in the evening. That’s what I call tragedy.

Why is the world flat? The main reason that comes to my mind is perhaps the seamless integration that has happened between business processes that will slowly but surely ensure that every job in the world finds the ‘best man/woman for the job’. It will no longer matter if physically you have to be in a different place for getting the best productivity. There will be ways and means by which you, in spite of being in another location, can effortlessly make the best utilization of your time and expertise.

The world will become flat also because we need the world to be flat. Otherwise how will an Indian and a Pakistani National sit in the same car, discuss the issues faced by consumers in another country and rake their brains to be ready with a solution to be presented before a multi lingual and multi cultural team presided over by someone, who while sitting in Dubai, is rooting for Holland in Euro 2008.

If you like any form of a conspiracy theory, here’s something for you. The car in which we were travelling was hit by a truck that was being driven by someone from POK. But when you realize that the poor guy is also in a foreign country trying to make his living just like the thousands of your countrymen from Kerala, you feel sorry for entire South Asia, not just India or Pakistan. And yeah. In case you are worried about the car it’ll survive but will require multiple visits to the shop. I, as you can understand, much to your joy or dismay, am very much alive and was driven back to the airport by a Somalian driver in a Japanese made car. Now that’s why the world will be flat.

By the way, there's something else. While at the airport, I checked out the insurance papers that we carry on our foreign trips and obviously seldom read them. My insurance says that I am fully covered on Emergency Evacuation and ...wait for it.... "Repatriation of remains"

You should not read such stuff just before boarding a plane. Guess I'll complete the post later.

However, there is one aspect that will ensure that there will always be a horizon in this world that my generation lives in. And that’s called Nationalism. Whenever I am stopped at an Indian airport for security checking, I feel proud to be an Indian, proud that my country’s security is under control. However, whenever I am asked proof of my identity at an International airport I feel violated and angry. Do I look like a terrorist? I ask myself. And that’s when I proudly hold out my passport with the Republic of India shining on it. I feel awesome.

While these thoughts were going through my mind, I decided to do a reality check. I always call myself a Globalized Bong who can fit in anywhere. But then like a true blue marketer, I did something we call the laddering technique. Yes, I love working in Global teams. Yet, if someone makes any comment on India I become an Indian. I love India, yet when someone passes a comment on Bengalis, I become a true blue Bong. If a Bong says anything on Calcutta, my ammunition is loaded and ready to fire. If some peppy South Calcuttan says something about my North Calcutta, I defend my part of the city with great gusto. So from the Globalized Bong, I become a small, pretty narrow minded, safe haven seeking North Calcuttan. And as I figure out, that’s true for almost everyone around me. The exodus of my generation, at least in India, has started. The next generation will be brought up in a world where their parents, of different backgrounds will start their family in a completely different city and this generation will not be as connected to the roots as you and I are.

That’s the generation that will make the world truly flat.


G V S Prasad said...

Beautiful post Banjo! I've become sort of addicted to your blog these days and have started reading the archives :)

Keep it going!

The Consultant said...

Bugger the post, call me!!! I yam in ze UAE.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@Prasad - Thanks :) I thought you only read that one blog :)

@Madame Consultant - I left Dubai in less than 24 hours. You didn't even read my posts fully :(

CJ said...

ever felt the surge of joy at the random airhostess announcing "welcome to india" on touchdown? that defines my being indian.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ CJ - and if they play right here waiting for you at the same time? :)

Soumya Sen said...

@CJ- Well, for me it was 15th of August, when I left India and the air-hostess announced 'Thank you for choosing British Airways!' ;-)

Isn't that ironic? I sound like a bastard as usual, but that's what happened!

Soumya Sen said...

And this time too i am leaving India on 15th August on BA! Will hear the same thing again. What a coincidence!

Shibanka Biswas said...

your posts make for a lot of food for thought; quite practical unlike the title of your blog :)

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Soumya I assure you the food on AI these days are much better than others :) try it if only for the food.

@Shibu - I would rather go to sleep and dream some more then :(

Atulya said...

Monsieur Banjo!
I can't imagine which terminal of Mumbai airport you flew out of, but I am pretty sure it wasn't 1A. See http://atulyab.blogspot.com/2008/05/mumbai-part-42-and-modern-art.html for details!

Soumya Sen said...

I happen to know that you are fond of collecting quotes, so here is one that you might like:
"Human Nature will not flourish, anymore than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth"
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Custom-House"

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@Monkee - I actually love the wallpaintings of scary looking men aying sorry for the inconvenience.

@Soumya - Killer line, especially about fortunes being under control