I am on my second visit to Gulf countries this year and before its too late let me share my first visit which in fact started before first of January. I was in Bahrain since 27th December and all celebrations in January including the New Year and my birthday were spent there. I was the guest of Jaya and Prakash Menon for four days that I stayed in Bahrain. Jaya and Prakash represent the cream of cultural activity in the artscape of the land of pearls. I have been fortunate enough to interact with non resident Keralites in Bahrain. It surely is a matter of surprise for me that among all other Malayali community initiatives in the Gulf Bahrain Kerala samajam has its own Library and conveniently big auditorium. I felt that their social circle have realized the worth of next generation knowing the mother tongue! I also got introduced to Benyamin, author of Aadu Jeevitham, the most recent Malayalam fiction that influenced me. Producers who are to associate with me in future -Spencer Cruz, Darwin Cruz and Austin Fernandes met me there. Sathyan, Partner of Ultima Builders for whom I am the brand ambassador, was there too. On January 31st I reached Dubai where my long time friend and colleague Iqbal Kuttippuram, who wrote Arabikkadha was waiting for me for the discussion of current project `Cousins’. This new venture is planned as a fun-filled musical entertainer starring Mohanlal and Prithviraj.
New Year was celebrated with friends Iqbal, Naushad, Arun and Sahir in Ras al- Khaimah. Though I missed my parents, wife Leena and Children – Irene and Catherine and my friends in Kerala I enjoyed celebrating my birthday on January eleventh with friends and family in Dubai. This year’s celebration was different with the presence of Madhu (a childhood companion) and family, Bhasi (friend since pre degree days) and family and Ravikumar (classmate) and family. Ravikumar has been a senior engineer in the construction of the world’s tallest building Burj Kalifa. The memorable experience in Dubai during this trip was of course the inaugural ceremony of Burj Kalifa. I was able to see the mesmerizing experience in close range because of Nadeer who is the personal assistant of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. The ceremony surprised my senses as it must have done to all of you through television visuals in different parts of the world. But like the climax of a brilliant film it saddened those who were waiting patiently for long years to hear the name Burj Dubai. Like any other citizen of Dubai it pained me to know that the tallest building on earth will be Called Burj Khalifa instead of Burj Dubai!