In a taxi in Dubai, the driver, a balding bespectacled middle aged man turned to the girls sitting in the back and asked them if they loved India. His English was very broken but he made himself understood. “You love India?” he asked them. It is foundation, he continued. You can make many beautiful branches but if foundation is not strong, the branches will get too heavy. Then you have to cut them down. The girls smiled back at him clearly unsure how to respond. I had been half listening to him while looking out the window at the glittering sky scraper lined horizon but now turned to him. Earlier on during the ride I had learnt that he was from Yemen and that he had been driving taxis in Dubai for twenty five years. That he had to drive two days to be able to go visit his family in Yemen. I had heard and seen many things full of color during my visit to this city but no one had said anything so far that caught my attention like this. What would you say you learnt then in twenty five years of driving in this city? He glanced at me and said with a small laugh. It is all about me. I learnt that it is all about me. The world moves through me. If I am happy, kind, the world is like that. If I am angry, upset, the world is like that. I am… the center of the world.
I am now in Mumbai, in the country of my origin, close to my foundation. Outside the air is humid and the sun is shining on the sands of the beach. I am in the land of innumerable mystics, gurus, gods, goddesses and religions. It is Christmas day and all I can think of is that never has such wisdom come my way in words as wild and true as all the oceans I have known–the Persian Gulf in Dubai in which I had learnt to swim as a child, the Arabian sea in Mumbai in which I swam in my youth and the Atlantic by which I live now in Cornwall.