Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to UAE and the Malayalam words in his speech yesterday, are an acknowledgement of a population that has long yearned for such recognition.
My father T.M.Nair arrived in Dubai in 1959. Until then he was working with Burmah Shell, Bombay. Ambition drove him across the seas. After a three-day sea trip from Bombay, he arrived to find a barren desert unlike anything he had dreamt of. The currency then was the Red Rupee, valued a bit lower than the Indian rupee. And his salary was one-third of what he had received in Mumbai. He thought then that he had made the biggest mistake of his life.
Having arrived, he stayed on and made the best of the hand dealt to him. Learning Arabic quickly, he found friends among the Arabs and the very few Indians. This was a time before the United Arab Emirates had been formed. The sheikhdoms were together called the Trucial states. This was a time of no roads, plenty sand dunes, unlike anything in present day Dubai. (The first paved road came up in 1961). Water was delivered to homes on mules. Air-conditioning was the greatest luxury and rare. Yet there were dreams in their eyes.
The Indians shared family-like bonds and firm friendships formed between Arabs and Indians. These relationships formed the foundation for growth when the country stumbled on oil in the mid 60s and early 70s. Several pioneering efforts were born from these friendships and I am so proud of their contributions to the building of this country. From the barren desert came up these beautiful international cities that became tourist and trading destinations for the whole world. Soon synonymous with excellent infrastructure and luxury, UAE also became home to the largest number of Malayalees outside India. It has to be said that of these large numbers, most were part of the workforce and not those enjoying the luxuries. Providing their families in Kerala with comfortable lives even when they have struggled in difficult circumstances in the Gulf, that was a generation of men and women who accepted exile from the green land they loved.
As a child I remember returning to Kerala on flights where the minute we saw the coconut tree infested land far below the airborne plane, some passengers would jump out of their seats, grabs their bags to leave and rush to the exit. The air-hostesses would hush them and force them back into their seats, grumbling about them being uncouth. But a deeper look would have revealed that many of these men were returning home after 4 or 5 years and were simply overwhelmed and emotional.
Unlike other countries Indian residing in the Gulf countries were not offered citizenship or opportunity to own properties till recently. So those generations remained Indians in every sense, utterly faithful in celebrating every festival, cheering every match and reacting to every election. The smallest news from India would create ripples among them. But when it came to their struggles, they had to stand – each alone, and no one ever told them that they mattered.
Over the years the NRI has also changed, merging with the multitudes of nationalities in the UAE. Today’s generation is privileged as they were literally born with the silver spoon and may be unaware of the arduous history their predecessors were part of. As I write this I realize that these words were uttered by my father to me.
It foxes me why the NRI community in UAE did not receive such attention earlier. Nevertheless I am glad it is happening now. Among the audience who listened to Prime Minister Modi, I hope there were some from those early generations, for it is they who deserved to hear these words and get the recognition the most. My father is no more, but I know how much it would have meant to him.
69 thoughts on “What is special about the Indian PM’s speech in Dubai?”
പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട ചേച്ചി ,
പ്രധാനമന്ത്രിയുടെ ഒരു പ്രസ്ഥാവനയിൽ നിന്ന് നൂറ്റാണ്ടുകൾ പഴക്കമുള്ള അറബ് കേരളം ബന്ധത്തെ വേറെ ഒരു കോണിൽ കാണാനുള്ള ചേച്ചിയുടെ കഴിവ് സമ്മതിക്കാതെ വയ്യ . I do agree the PM’s speech is a metaphor for this content .
ഫ്രേടെരിക് ഫ്രാങ്ക് ഒരിക്കൽ പറയുകയുണ്ടായി .
“Seeing is beautiful than viewing. there is more into seeing” . അത് അന്വര്ഥം ആക്കുന്നതാണ് ചേച്ചിയുടെ വീക്ഷണം .
ചേച്ചിയുടെ ഒരു ബ്ലോഗ് പോസ്റ്റ് അടുത്ത് വായിക്കാനിടയായി . അതിൽ ഇങ്ങനെ പറയുന്നു
“സാങ്കേതികമായി ലോകം വളരെ മുന്നോട്ടു പോയിരിക്കുന്നു എങ്കിലും തെരുവിൽ ഒരു തർക്കമുണ്ടാകുമ്പോൾ ശബ്ദമുയർത്തി സംസാരിക്കുന്നവരുടെ കയ്യിൽ ന്യായം പലപ്പോഴും കുടുങ്ങിപ്പോകുന്നു ”
Big fan 🙂
മഞ്ചാടികുരു , ബാംഗ്ലൂർ days , ഉസ്താദ് ഹോട്ടൽ ഈ മൂന്നു ചിത്രങ്ങല്ലും വളരെ മിഗച്ചതായിരുന്നു , ഈ സിനിമകൾ വഴി താങ്കളുടെ ചിന്താഗതികലോടും ബഹുമാനം തോന്നിയിട്ടുണ്ട് , പക്ഷെ ഒരു കാര്യം ചോദിക്കട്ടെ…… എന്തിനാണ് “””””””മേനോൻ”””””””‘ എന്ന ഈ ജാതി പേര് കൂടെ കൊണ്ട് നടക്കുന്നത്?? ജാതി പറയാനും ചിന്തിക്കാതിരിക്കാനും നമ്മൾ നടത്തേണ്ട മുന്നെട്ടതിലേക്ക് ഒരു ചെറിയ സഹായമായി താങ്കൾ അത് ഉപേക്ഷിക്കുമെന്ന് പ്രതീക്ഷിക്കുന്നു…..
Dear Vipin Raj,
Sorry for such a delayed reply on your idea, suggesting Anjali Menon to drop off the “jathi” name.
As a primary matter of fact, your suggestion in the first place is so weird to encounter.
Have you ever thought about your suggestion deeply?
Of course, you might have.
Dear Vipin, realise that, this deep thought on this topic is the basic reason for the comment of yours. Since you had to ponder over such a flimsy issue, you had to respond.
Having the surname “Menon” is completely a family or societial matter, and people are comfortable with it (never ignoring those who are uncomfortable. Since, the person who is addressed here nowhere expresses her uneasiness towards the name, let’s continue).
Then, when does the problem arise?
The problem arises at the point where exploitation takes birth.
Has the “Menon” in Anjali exploited someone?. Why can’t this little being, Mrs Anjali Menon stand for the whole community of Menon’s, to prove the goodness associated with the name.
Let the goodness that spreads around us be imbibed, rather than greedily gathering the negatives. Wish her the best, where the community which she represents would be proud, even making the whole world proud.
Accept this point of view with a open mind and be acknowledged that, this “Christian” friend of yours is always open for any suggestion from you which would prove the idea the other way.
Some people knows where a good man’s heart lean. When we listen them,It really feels deep . U knw, lyk Knockin where there is more sound.
May b Modi Ji has that sense and let’s say tht u has it too chechi. 😉
Artists are supposed to use their tools to showcase the real and perceived flaws of a ruler or a government. Modi’s speech and visit has nothing to do with struggling phase of any NRI’s life and if there is any it shouldn’t be by greying out the past damages made by that ruler. All other praises are considered to be the affinity towards the communal politics followed by that leader.
Good one. mam. Really touching..
Really the word u scribbled on your blog touched my heart. I smell some doubt about our PM, I believe he is a true INDIAN. He can do a lot.
nice article anjali maam
Hello Anjali mam,
Thanks for such a blog.Really fedup witnessing very bad comments in social media about his visit.Being in your generation we know how important is this country to kerala.I recalled two things reading your blog.
1. My achan experiences.
2.Characters in your movie majadikuru 😀
Again whatever is modi motive, we just know our PM visited us.
Once again thank you.
Typo “country” 😀
Hi Anjali mam,
Excellent blog . . I was not knowing much about you. . After watching your films I tried to know more about you. You have an exceptional writing skill and its been a pleasure to read. . that can bring smiles on our faces or at certain other instances could make eyes moist just like your films.. It is just passing your feelings directly to our hearts.. I think most of the malayalis will be having somebody in UAE. Modi, who is the first prime minister to visit UAE in 34 years. Salute to the honorable PM.
Expecting a lot more from you like this.. Eagerly waiting 🙂 May god bless you on your journey..
Dear Ms Anjali Menon! What a beautiful writing! I was very much there in that crowd of people cheering up our PM in Dubai Stadium! People are waiting to see what NM can offer after 5 years etc…. I just enjoy the the present moment where I can enjoy the pride every Indian have in their glittering eyes! Tomorrow what is the fate of India or NM does not matter for me. Today MANO is the pride of every Indian even for those who act to hate him. Anjali, evrything that Keralites enjoy today, is from the sweat of the pioneers of the Gulfies from Kerala. Thank you very much, thank you!
Anjali, This blog, I happened to read this morning, actually took me several years back when I had occasional opportunities to engage in conversation with your grandfather Sankaran Nair and father, Madhavan Nair at ‘Kalpaka’. Though I was younger by years, I never felt out of place as the atmosphere was friendly and we all knew each other well. The early generation of our people from Kerala and elsewhere has all the right to feel proud of their part in making the UAE and other surrounding areas as they are today and their children who have the first hand experience of life there certainly know the difference time has brought. Just in case you don’t recognise me ; I am the brother-in-law of Balachandran, Ambika’s Husband. (K.C.C Thampan.)
Another rare and interesting one. Your blogs are interesting to read as all articles are unique experiences. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.
I am an NRI working in Muscat. Never knew that Indian Rupee had higher value.
Nice to read,well said,,sad to feel any connectivity form title to content 😃
I started reading the blog with lot of expectations. But after reading it, I could not make out what was special about Modi’s speech.Did I miss any thing? May be the title was not consistent with the content?
Hi Rakesh, the post refers to what is special for first & second generation NRIs (like me) in the Indian PM’s speech.
Lovely article with a personal touch to it. I value and respect this mans amazing zeal and enthusiasm to present a positive image of India abroad. A ‘friend’ commented – Modi is just an NRI creation whatever that means. I said ‘ So be it. Better than absolute subservience to Italian mafia!’
Hands off to you. !
Memories brings tears to the eyes.
Prime Minister Modi is one of the Vibrant Prime Minister we are blessed with. He is the only Minister who has shown courtesy to visit the Labour Class who is the back born of our country during his first trip itself. Also he is the only hope for Bharath and us. We are all eagerly looking forward his further achievements to recognize our Great Nation and People who will surely lead the World soon to Peace, Prosperity and Unity soon.
Well said.. Really it was a proud moment for all indians living in this country and around the world.
As all the work of yours madam, a very “touching” write up…
Anjali great article
I have a request on your movies never include songs like mangalyam thathunanena that is abusing the Vedas
Let’s wait to see what our PM can do to us.All that glitters is not Gold….
Better late than never!!! Every generation that struggles and perishes uncared and unnoticed have the greatest saga of sacrifice to recite…this is the sad truth…but the happiest of all is the acknowledgement that comes from the leader of a nation by thanking the contributions of a generation that has evolved following the steps of their ancestors!!! So do not worry that your father was not THERE so see this happen…be assured he would have seen this happen nonetheless sitting somewhere we do not know still….
My father came to uae via boat in 1964 , he told almost same story about uae. How difficult was those days at extreme hot temaparature , he say the long journey in desert looking for water while they walked from dubai to al ain and a story of water melon they found in middle of desert.
He says people were so attached regardless of their religion or place. People were very helpful to give food and place to sleep.
There are lot more to say about uae at those era, he alway think about writting a book about his experince .
He is now settled in trissur.
A good write up. It is as enjoyable like your movie. Keep it up.
Sweet memories & a lot’s of inspirations for youngest NRis are there in your blog. I congratulates Shri.PM of India for Special mentioning Keralites & using Malayalam words. This moment ,May your hearted father rest in peace. Thankyou
But Anjali,,,,,,, still you are not aware about our India’s growing fascist scenario,,,,,,,see this video,,,,,and write a new article.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, https://youtu.be/VJIymICMbXM
I have a privilege to say about respected T. M. Nair Sir. My first interview for job in 1996 was done by him. I worked in his organisation for a long time. In my heart and soul, he is My God father. He was a great man and a wonderful visionary! Behind many great things in Dubai, we can see his presence.
Thank you Sreejith for sharing your thoughts.
Awesome words anjaliji heart touching
All the best
Your dads story resembles a lot to my uncle V.G.Nair who landed in Sharjah around same time and left after years as major V.K..Nair retd ..and i too could be in UAE for some years. Agree with you
Major Nair Uncle was known well to us. 😊
Dear Anjali Your article is very informative and emotional as well. Every diaspora community has their own stories and it has pain and suffering one side and dream of better living in other side. Let’s salute and congrats Mr. Modi and his team for their achievements. My question is why no PMs has been visited this land after Indira Gandhi? My sister who came to USA in 1974 then dollar was weak and exchange value of Indian Ruppies was just Rs.8.00. No car no help language problem all these were big hurdles in that community then. But they have survived in a big way and now all that generation is retired and watching Malayalam in their TV channels and have been living a healthy lives. Yes I remember just like you said even I was in my late 20s I enjoyed my first flight and I was overwhelmed when I saw Cochin Airport ( no Nedempassery then) from up in the sky.
We were at Kottayam 3 weeks before and I really enjoyed the movie Premam. The story is simple but much cool. What is after Banglore days? Wish you good luck my friend Anjali Menon. Thanks Abraham Mathew Malayalam Vartha Newspaper USA Malvartha@aol.com 215 519 7330
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Modi is a man of vision and purpose in mind and I believe his historic speech has thrilled every Indian who lived as pravasi in his life. Indians were a neglected lot in our own country and abroad and their suffering was unattended. It touched my heart when Modi mentioned yesterday that a temple will be built in Abu Dhabi with the blessings of the President of UAE. There was a time when carrying a photo of God in bags was frowned upon. Modi’s oratory style and expressions of concerns about his subjects in another country made me feel that we are not orphans any more. I consider this a great recognition for the downtrodden Indian.
Dear Anjali Madam, Really True,even if i am completed 10 years only here in UAE, i can understand the words of ignorance from our politicians, anyway thanks for your words and thoughts.
India Govt can help repatriate dead bodies, or to evacuate during war like situations, all other helps offered are simple verbosity. Expatriates do not believe in politicians, they just love the celebrities, give them respect and strive their own way. Whatever they achieve is on their own struggle, perseverance, patience, governments have not role at all. And they grease the wheels of economy roll with ease back home they are mere job seekers spurned by the bureaucracy,
Please do not forget the rescue and repatriation of Kerala nurses from a war torn area of Iraq. It was through government diplomacy and engagement with the most dangerous terrosts.
Dear Anjali, I have many fond memories about your Dad which I continue to cherish and often share with my friends. Hameed
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Yes Anjali, it is a late recognition of the contribution that a Gulf indian and more importantly a Gulf Malayalee makes to the foreign exchange reserves of India. It is the sweat of many of our blue collared fellow citizens who slog it out in the extremities of climate, denying themselves many of the comforts and human emotions which some of us are lucky to have. Let us hope Modiji will look into our issues more sympathetically. Erratic and poor performance of Air india leading to exorbitant rates by other operators in the sector, insurance for labourers, pension fund for long performing workers, the list goes on.
Excellent Anjali. I was in Saudi for 5 years and visited Dubai on the way to US. What a transformation. Millions of Indians contributed to it – Feeling proud. Nice article
well said and its really true and heart touching what you said Anjali Mam. My father is also an ex Nri and we family were with him for 7 years .. Myself also worked in uae for a period of 4 years.. Most of the parts of you said are similar to my life also.. We have to treat him as a PM of 130 crore Indians and its not a simple thing that an Indian PM is visiting UAE after a long term , where most of the Indians are there for work… Admirable….!!!!
Well said Anjali Menon 🙂 Being a UAE raised kid myself, could totally relate to what you’ve written.
Well said Naveed and it was really an eye opener for many back here to see the many problems that the pravasi malayali community face there…I mean I was shocked when I heard that no one for the past 30+ years had visited UAE 😦 and what more the contribution of NRI’s fro mid-east is over $30 billion…
Heart Touching one. I think you remember everything that your father told about UAE. Make one beautiful script and show us. we are eagerly awaiting for this memorable events! Thanks a lot!
Your words reminded me of my childhood where I would be all geared up in the month of June to pack my bags and spend my vacations in kerala with my grandparents and relatives. Having stayed my entire life in that part of Dubai where Labour camps were just a stone throw away, I could easily relate the pain and agony each one of them suffered and still suffers. Ofcourse many of those less fortunate people in the land of opportunities were on cloudnine on hearing that the PM were to visit them. But later the interaction with PM was merely a visit and amounted to a mere publicity gimmick. He had spent less than 10 mins with the workers. The problems of those expatriates who have a family to feed back in the hometown is more or less the same even decades later.
Ms. Anjali Madam, you are a privileged daughter. NOT for what ever you inherited nor for what your generation got from the desert land opposite their former mentors. BUT for the fond memories transformed or transferred into your self; I read it through your lines. When I say to my children, who have visitedlived at my second country KSA on several occasions, “Listen kids, I have spent the middle piec of life in this ……. (xxxx), they can not absorb it. What is filled in their brain cells are company car at airport lounge upon landing, fully furnished American Style family house (for the sake of my administrative employment), round the clock open cafeteria where sandwiches will be brought to home upon a phone call.
At the same time, my worth is my experiences of 21 years from 1978 till 1999. No one would be able to snatch it from me, my close family, distant family, friend circle, accomplices attained upon landing on a lucrative employment after eating one time meal per day that is Khubz and Dal for the first three years. None. I close it to my chest.
I got your point madam. God bless us all.
Dear Mr.Kareem, you are the richer for it. And we both know I am not talking about money 🙂
True to your heart write up with which I could fulllllllly empathise…loved it…and i m proud to be a Gulf kid toooooo 💃 sharing ur write up!
Dear Anjali Madam… Modi’s words gave relief to so many Indians in UAE. Thanks Madam for highlighting your experience with UAE
As one among those blessed to have been a part of this great event ,I want to say that the fact that this recognition comes after 34 years was not a deterrent for the 50000 who gathered braving the heat and humidity.The same stadium has seen many ODIs but none like the wave created by one MODI.And yes ,this was the needed spotlight for the Indians of all generations and generations to come.
As you have experienced both living in Kerala and also lived the best part of your life in the emerging middle east,think of a storyline/ movie which all can relate to.
younger generations should respect their fathers,brothers and uncles have done for the both countries…proud to be part of this era to thank each other…
As much as I’d like NRI’s to get the attention they deserve, I would like to say that Modi’s actions never measure up to his words.. his political campaign and one year tenure at the helm symbolises his empty promises.. a great orator.. no question.. He knows what to say to please the audience.. knows the pulse of the audience..
Truly inspiring Anjali ji…
I was waiting to hear Ur dad attended Modi ji’s event, unfortunately it ended differently.
No wonder Ur movies n scripts carries human emotions n lives so clearly.
One year is too short a time to measure the performance of a government especially when it is blocked by an opposition determined to stunt the growth of India. But the major benefits to the exchequer have been the huge sums of money from 2G and Coal auctioning. Also the perception of India among the comity of nations have changed. Have patience and let us give them the time which constitution has warranted — 5 years. Voters will give their verdict.
super!! one of the best regarding the pm’s visit!!!
Love your words !!!
Really true…As a keralite staying in dubai only for 3 years still i can feel the same emotions… It was really proud moment yesterday when our esteemed PM visited …. 🙂
Finally an acknowledgement! Long due!