Existing in the desert

I live in the desert. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

Yesterday I went to see this movie, "The New World". It moved me deeply. It was like viewing a piece of continuous art that goes on and on.

I was mesmerized by the beauty of life. Of nature. I live in a place where there is nothing. Smelly flowers and trees watered by recycled water. Its not a tree you want to hug or sit by. Yes, its never cold. So what? For most of the year the combination of temperature and humidity makes it quite unbearable to enjoy being outdoors. Even if you can do that, what do you do? Where do you go? Sure, you can spend time with arid mountains in Hatta or Fujeirah. But thats not even close to what I'm missing. I can't feel life.

And this place is a desert in many other ways too. In the ways of lifestyle, connections, relations, values.

I feel I have to move on. I'm standing still. It took me about 6 months to get to know this place, then the learning stopped. After living and travelling in this region for more than a year, I know quite well what its about.

When new experiences and excitement is not pouring in, I don't feel that alive. Its more like existing rather than living. Once your life is inside certain frames - you do the same stuff most of the time and you know most of the stuff around you - you have to go further. I think you need to expand your life constantly. I feel I need to. Otherwise whats the point?

I think when you reach the point when it seems you are standing still, you need to find people who will expand your universe, have to go places that will make your life larger.

Sometimes it might be hard to notice that you are standing still, because people are too busy being busy. They don't take a look around them to notice that although they think they are running, the surroundings are the same.

I'm gonna go on a new adventure pretty soon.

Be grateful that you live in Dubai

I attended a real estate seminar yesterday. It was a typical seminar with food, fancy hotel and nothing-to-say conversations ("How are you? Good! How's business? Great!" etc). Seminar had a panel of hotshots and the topic was "Opportunities and Challenges in the Property Market".

What struck me was a comment made by a lady in the panel. She was asked about different problems people are facing with their newly bought properties (shortage of running water, leaking roofs etc) and her reply was just amazing. She said we shouldn't talk about problems, we should be grateful that we get to live in such an amazing city. No other city in the world has seen such growth in the last 4 years and its a miracle. So just be thankful that you get to be here.

I'm speechless. My roof is leaking, but thats all right 'cause I get to live in Dubai. The rent is sky high, but its okay because I am grateful. There is racism everywhere, but we shouldn't talk about it since the city is just so great.

What the lady said reflects the point of view of many people in Dubai. Just in today's 7Days (local newspaper) I read a letter from a reader which states that high rents is a good way of keeping out riff raff. "Dubai is for the classy people".

Let's all be grateful now.

UAE vs Jordan 0:0

Last week I had the chance to experience local football culture. UAE was playing Jordan in the Asian Cup. The game itself was a bore draw. Only player worth looking at was the star striker of Jordan - Sa'ed. Too bad he was lazy.

We sat next to the Jordainans fans - although they were a minority in the stadium, the were the loudest ones and had some real football spirit. Enjoyable drum rhytms.

Most of the UAE fans were rather passive. The cool thing about them was that they were wearing colorful vests on top of their white kandooras and so they formed the UAE flag. What was really annoying was an anonymous cheerleader (some local dude), who throughout the game yelled and sang and this horrible sound came from all the speakers. It seemed that the fans themselves don't have what it takes to support their team. We prayed for it to stop, but alas to no avail.

Me and my colleague Eero were pretty much the only white people in the game besides Bruno Metsu, the coach of the UAE national team.

Live Closer To The Things That Matter Most

This is the slogan used in newspaper advertising by a local real estate developer. Next to this slogan are pictures of golf courses, swimming pools, expensive villas and other high-end real estate development projects.

Boy I'm glad I found this out. Now I know what really matters in life.


What is expected?

The world we live in today has expectations on everybody and everything. And by world I mean society as the collective being. People as the members of this society carry these expectations. Expectations set what is "normal". If you act accordingly to these expectations, you are a good members of the society. If you dare to rebel, you are perceived as weird, someone who doesn't belong to the group or doesn't understand how things work, or even stupid.

These expectations are ingrained in us. We have been receiving messages about how to behave and what is the right thing to do since we were born. At home, from friends and relatives, at school and other institutions where there are people. During growing up we've received thousands and thousands of this kind of messages, that we perceive this as truth. We often don't question it. We know that sky is blue, we can see it. We also know how you're supposed to dress when going to the wedding or work. We know that you should study hard and get a safe job. We know you have to strive towards a great career and a fancy title. We know we should aim to live a comfortable life by financial terms; it might even be the goal. Its what is expected from us.

Very often the value system we carry and expectations we follow were not chosen by us. Most likely it was determined already before you were born. It was decided before my birth that I will not be a muslim. It was decided that the first language Im gonna speak is estonian.
When we grow up, we accept the information and value system that is being communicated to us by the society (family, friends, school, tv and other forms of mass media etc). The acceptance to this information becomes so strong, we don't even question it. We might not even be aware that we follow a certain code of expectations.

People live their lives according to these expectations benchmark with each other. Be it the amount of money you're making, the size of your house, clothes you wear, your position in your company and so on. How well are you measuring up to the expectations the society sets upon you? If you are doing poorly, people can regards you as lazy, not smart enough, weird. You get punished. If you measure up well, you get rewarded. People like to get rewarded and don't like to be punished.

I'm not saying that everybody in the society follows the same expectations. Not at all. Society has different sub-gruops. Yes, there is the money-oriented subgroup that measures you by how much wealth you have - I think that is the most common, the biggest sub-group.

There is also the green sub-group, which sets different kind of expectations. Do you eat organic food? How many times a week? Are your curtains hand-woven in some non-sweatshop and made out of organic materials? How often do you do yoga or open up your chakras?

The number of possible small sub-groups is endless. Gang of thugs have another set of expectations. Members of very religious groups compete with each other who is more pious and a better christian (or whatever).

I'm not saying it's a bad thing. Its just the way things are and following some particular set can be noble and good.

If you don't belong to any sub-group, don't match with any of the expectations, you are a rebel and don't belong to the group. On the other hand if the number of rebels with similar value system and behaviour grows big enough, a new sub-group is formed and expectations follow its members.

I think it is important to understand which expectations do you follow. If you go after the rewards by blindly following a set of expectations, it might not be very healthy. Is it really that important to live according to these expectations? Does it matter in the end?

I know people that want to be like everybody else. I also know people who want to be different, rebels. Both kind of people can be very nice. I think what matters the most is that you are at peace with the decision you made.

You might wanna evaluate the set of expectations you follow - perhaps you want to make some changes. We don't want to feel empty and discover on the way that we have wasted a part of our life pursuing something that is not worth much.

The race is long and in the end its only with yourself, as somebody once said.