I think I am a pretty hopeless writer and it has got nothing to do with my writing. It has all got to do with my thinking. I can’t seem to hold on to a thought for more than a moment. My mind at the moment is like a sponge full of water. Its heavy and feels pregnant. It can’t take anything new without throwing out something. I have a good mind to throw it into the dustbin and start again. I feel I am too full of opinions, pre conceived notions and conclusions Before someone even starts to speak, I have already guessed it from the ‘non verbal signals’ (demeanour, background etc) what the person is going to say and I have already come to my conclusion. It doesn’t matter then what the person has to say, my reaction is ready on the basis of what my mind has told me.  This is not just for personal conversations, it is also true for news incidents.

Like for example this merger that is being planned between MTN (in south africa) and Bharti (in India). I know in my mind where this is going. I can see that the governments have gotten involved. The heads of both companies have clout in their respective governments and both governments it seems are willing to bend to let this merger happen. No one is talking about how this merger is going to be successful. How will the different cultures of the two organisations meet. What is being talked about is how the merger will create the third largest telecom company. Even a first grader can do the maths if he is told – A has 2 phones, B has 3 phones. If A and B were to put their phones together how many phones do they become.  Sure the boy can’t talk about synergies, but neither can the media. I know this merger is going to happen, the media is going to celebrate it as another sign of India’s success in the global arena and then they are going to move onto to the next charade. But I have very serious doubts if this can have a long term future.

One word I hear worryingly too much these days is efficiency savings. Most political leaders include this in their speeches. It is hard to see a powerpoint these days without this phrase. It is to me the buzzword for the credit crunched and outsourced world. If I was to remember this year, five years on, I would remember this as the year of the efficiency savings. This was the year when you just had to use this phrase and you caught everyone’s attention. Even I, in my all knowing ways, had never imagined that this would become a fad.

If I stretch my mind to its limit, I can maybe remember this year as also the year of the Chinese ghost. This world in recent history has known many ghosts. It has know the communist ghost, the japanese ghost and now it is the Chinese ghost. Couple of a weeks ago I sat through a 101 on the south china sea and how China has captured land illegally from Vietnam. Then there was this whole media hype in India over the so called Chinese incursions. Earlier in the year was the huge trade imbalances in the favour of China. Coming next month is the 60th anniversary party of the communist party. I have no way of knowing whether China did make incursions into India, if it killed Vietnamese fishermen or if it fudges its numbers to understate its trade surpluses.

I guess even the sponge has its limits !

So it has been an eventful 3 weeks atleast by my blogging standards.  I have written 3 posts on the same point and somehow managed to not write 5 more and I also managed for the most part not to be my cynical self. I have talked about the issue, the players, the band and even speculated about a dark knight. When  I am not writing about it I am either thinking about it, or talking about it with someone. I am now tired and I need a holiday. Holiday from writing is not possible so i’ll try to have a holiday from the mumbai, india-pakistan and related issues. I have to be cynical and say this is like a typical hindi movie where you can go out for a smoke, loo break and a chai and not miss a thing. I am trying to style myself after one of those fancy columnists who read 10 books a month, write 1 column a week and go off on frequent holidays. While i think I’ll be lucky if i can read 10 books a year, take 2 holidays a year, i am not a coumnist, atleast not a paid one!

But there is something that I have which is the urge to travel. I have grown out of a lot of urges but this is one which has stayed with me forever. As I start to pack my bags a strange sort of thrill overtakes me. It doesnt matter whether I am packing an overnighter or a suitcase for a month. As the day comes closer I tell myself that I will be sleeping in a different bed tommorow and the thought of it is strangely thrilling. But then when I get to the different bed I wonder what exactly was I thrilled about. I think it is the joy of the journey. I never want journeys to end. I usually never want to get anywhere because then I will not know what to do. If the journey gets too long and boring I can always change my destination half way. Journeys also imply a state of motion, of fluidity, I am constantly assmilating what I see around me and that gives me more things to talk about and write about. And so I am off soon to sleep in a different bed. I hope for the sun to shine more, I hope to have interesting experiences, delicious food, a lot of reading and a lot of sleeping.

I have always wanted to look at the future and predict. Just like the Economist, and other media organisations, which puts out a lookout for the year ahead. I used to think that I can’t look ahead without first understanding what is behind me. By understanding the past I could not only tell what was happening in the present but also predict the future more accurately. But it doesn’t quite work that way. I have tried to understand the past and that either gives me no clue to the future or in most cases a pessmistic view of the future. Bascially, the world and society has been like this only and change in most cases has been excruciatingly slow and that then leads to cynicism, atleast in my case.  I still want to predict though and so here is my prediction for 2009.

I think South asia will be a different place by this time next year. I am still not quite sure how! I say that because for the first time, atleast to my understanding, I am now seeing the war on terror be linked to India and Pakistan relations. Another episode of the Great Game will be played out over this year as India grapples for influence in Afghanistan, Karzai seeks to hold on to power and the US turns its entire might to that piece of land that has never been fully conquered by anyone. Plus there are elections due in India and Bangladesh, there a war in Sri Lanka which is entering a significant phase.

May we all live in interesting times.