By our lonesome

However pointless life may seem to be, we, the thinking beings of this world, can’t stop trying to find some semblance of meaning; can’t stop believing that what we do, what we think, matters. We believe that somewhere along the line, our choices and our actions will lead us to a goal that will give us happiness. We rely on our friends, girlfriends, partners, brothers to be our compatriots on this journey towards the discovery of meaning and happiness. We discover our “soul-mates” and choose to spend our lives with them. But who of all these people, anyone from all your relationships, truly and completely knows what it is to be you?  Why is it that instead of knowing our own selves, we choose to find solace in the limited knowledge of others? How can we expect anyone else to know us, when we don’t know ourselves, when they don’t know themselves?
What are we looking for in love? Is it possible that harboring under the delusion that our significant other knows us and forgives us for our shortcomings, we find an escape to the challenge of dealing with ourselves? To say ‘I love you’, one must first know the I.
We’re all separate, single, unique. Friendship,  kinship, is where the magic lies. Knowing that despite being alone, we’re never lonely, is a blessing I’m forever thankful for. But in this journey of life, we all have to tread our paths by our lonesome.

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Pointlessness 

6th September 2016. Today, I start writing. Aalap has suggested me the exercise of writing three pages each morning spontaneously. It is very intriguing exercise and it will be very interesting to find out what I write.

There has been an undercurrent of cluelessness in my life ever since I can remember making conscious decisions. My pretensions with the help of societal standards usually kept this at bay, but it has started coming to the fore recently. It’s often a numbing feeling, with bouts of depression induced by the frequent realization of the ‘pointlessness of life’. Yet, survival instinct cannot be denied, and life goes on.

In the modern world, it is easy to get caught up in the pace of life without finding any real meaning. Those who willingly accept this, and go with it, often find more worldly success than those of us who decline to participate. Being the Wallflowers of the world can often lead to a sense of self righteousness which maybe justified to a certain extent. But the answers that we all are looking for – it is safe to say – none of us are finding them. What use is it then, to continuously strive for something that is always going be out reach?

And, more importantly, why cannot we find these answers? To keep with the pessimistic flow of this article, I am going to explore the possibility that what we’re looking for, simply doesn’t exist. That, Darwin and The Theory of Evolution that we encountered in the previous millennium were right.

So far, I’ve realized the biggest hindrance in the life of us all is Survival. The Wallflowers often blame the economic system of this world and the concept of currency, due to which, all of us are forced to, till a varying extent, unwillingly participate in some aspects of life. But, that is not an economy problem; it is a survival problem. The ancients needed to hunt everyday and protect themselves from natural calamities, while in the modern world, we need to work a 9-to-5 job. Wherever you go, whatever you do, whatever you tell yourself, Survival is the prime motive of life.

And, if that’s true, why do most of us need some other purpose greater than ourselves to find meaning and, consequently, happiness? More importantly, are we kidding ourselves, in trying to convince ourselves that there can be some other purpose greater than ourselves? The bottom line remains, even if something such as the purpose of life exists, we’re not going to find it. We’re beings limited by time, burdened to survive.

Happiness, it is often said, is a choice. I am not sure I agree with that, or maybe I do, till a certain extent. It is a simple statement, with vastly complex implications.

Women Empowerment in The United Arab Emirates

The population of The UAE, as of 2013, was measured at 9.2 million. 1.4 million of this number are Emiratis, and the rest 85% are expatriates. As of 2014, the sex ratio of UAE stands at a horrifying 2.2. This statistic, among other things, is a good illustration of, to put it mildly, how different things are in The UAE when it comes to women, as compared to the rest of the world.

The judicial system of The UAE is derived from Sharia Law. The Emirati women, incidentally all of which are Muslims, are forbidden by law to marry non-Muslims(considered ‘fornication’), and must have permission from their `male guardian’ to remarry. Women are not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless in public. Pre-marital sex, Homosexuality, Illicit sex and Adultery are all punishable by law. Rape victims are usually criminalized, with women who report rape often being jailed under charges such as ‘engaging in extramarital affairs’, unless they have male Muslim eyewitnesses. The punishments frequently include Flogging (up to 100 lashes) and Stoning (public hitting of stones until death). Amputation and crucifixion are both legal punishments while deportation can be dished out for an ‘offense’ such as kissing in public.

Still, things were much worse in the past. Although that may seem like a small consolation, lately conditions have been improving in the UAE. And although it still seems very set on its ways, the government has had to concede a little because of pressure from global organisations advocating human rights. The recent globally publicised case of a Norwegian woman, Marte Dalelv, stands out. In 2013, when Dalelv, 24 at the time, reported her boss for rape, received a 16-month prison sentence on bogus charges such as `alcohol consumption’. However, under widespread criticism from human rights organisations around the world as well as the western media, she was later given full pardon in addition to allowance to leave the country, while the men involved in this alleged rape were also convicted. In education, especially considering women, there has been drastic improvement in The UAE. According to a report for the Millenium Development Goals – a United nations initiative – in The UAE, the number of women in higher education has risen at a rate unmatched by any other country. As of 2007, women in The UAE have achieved 90% literacy. This report further states that, 95% of women who complete high school go on to higher education and make up a whopping 70% of college graduates in all of The UAE. All these statistics point to a very promising future indeed for the empowerment of women in The UAE.

The current economic and political conditions of The UAE women are mixed. As of 2008-2009, only 21% of its Emirati women comprise a part of the labour force, while 80% of all UAE women are household workers. However, on the other hand, things seem to be improving fast in the business sector with UAE having the highest number of total participation of females in the Gulf Cooperation Council, while women constitute 43% of investors at the Abu Dhabi Security Exchange. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department appointed the first ever female marriage registrar of the UAE, Fatima Saeed Obaid Al Awani, as recently as 2008, a job hitherto reserved for men until then. The same year, UAE appointed its first female ambassadors, Hassa Al Otaiba in Spain and Sheikha Najla Al Qasimi in Sweden. Another special case to consider is that of Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan al Qasimi, currently the Minister of Foreign Trade (after being promoted from the post of Minister of Economy and Planning which she had held since 2004), who holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the country. Rated in Forbes magazine’s 100 most powerful women, Sheikha Lubna has become something of an icon for Emirati women in business.

To conclude, the women in UAE have been hampered much by the culture and the current judicial system, but despite all the ridiculously horrendous atrocities that they are subjected to, their spirit is far from broken and all the recent developments in the business and the education sector seem to herald a promising future.