Dubai

I am sitting at the Dubai Airport, reflecting on the past 15 hours. I left SF ecstatic and exhausted from anticipation. The thrill of returning to India is very real to me, since I know that this trip will be a prelude for the next 5 years of my creative life. I know this, because that is exactly what happened the last time and every time I have been to India for extended periods of time. Being there cements everything that is true in me, and reinforces that feeling that I am supposed to be here. It has been 3 years since my last trip, and even then, it wasn’t entirely on my terms. But this time, I am going with a mission very close to my heart, to deliver Global Lingo to the children who made it possible. Most of my bags are filled with tabla, musical notes, video and audio gear. All of it to capture a few precious minutes of time with the heroes of our projects, the children who learn to play music against all odds. What is that experience mean to them? What has music enabled them to do? What are their hopes and aspirations?

All of these questions are driving my work on this trip, and really it is all just enabling me to spend more time with each of the kids we work with. But now, I sit here at the insanely materialistic and sophisticated Dubai airport…

I have never been here before, and if it was any other time, I might have been humbled by it. But, after talking to several people on the Emirates flight who live in Dubai, it seems even more hollow and empty than ever. Apparently, so many people are leaving Dubai because of the financial meltdown, that the city can’t tow all the abandoned cars. I heard that people are literally driving to the airport and leaving their cars in the lots, because debt is illegal in Dubai. So many people are over their heads in mortgages and debt, that their only option is to leave. This has created a scenario where you can buy a used 4×4 volvo wagon for $1500. Homes are empty. People are desperate. And worst of all, the migrant workers…who came here, many of them paying enormous fees to get visas to work here, can find no work. Being modern day indentured servants, they are having to go back to their homelands. What will they face there, when they can’t repay the passage fees that enabled them to leave in the first place? It is a complex time indeed. There is much to learn and remember from what we are seeing…but the question is, will we? What we are seeing happened in the 1920s and many times before when any empire overreaches…but have we learned, have we listened?