Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 3: Waiting for Obama

I am still on the ball - went back to the habit of drawing up to-do lists in the morning and ticking it over once done; got a few things done during the day that way. Most importantly, I had to write and finish the Research proposal for the university, and all my non-working time went there. So, when I finished, well past midnight second time in a row, I was feeling a bit zombie-ish (sic!) - haven't moved out my chair much through the day and that is a depressing feeling.

But, I am over with it now, for the moment. Obviously, the work starts now and I have to do the research. Sometimes, I feel tempted to think that I am better off completely focusing on such work - writing, reading, research - rather than trying to keep so many balls on the air. There is, of course, no better time to take a career break than this year, when everything is topsy-turvy and the world economy has decided to go back a few years, as if in a time machine. But then, the work I do is not just work - this is my baby in lots of ways and I can't suddenly take a break. Also, I have tried talking this out with friends, and it draws diverse reactions. Some people, professionals and businessmen, clearly follow a line and for them, going back to the university is simply not an option. They rather point out how much lost income this will mean. On the other hand, there are others who get inspired by the idea and wants to do the same - these are people who are not so much after money than they are after happiness. And, for me, a perpetual Gemini, I am neither here nor there, it is hard to make up my mind.

Outside of my own problems, the whole America is now waiting for Obama. Today he gets inaugurated. The American transition process is incredibly long drawn and unbelievably civil, at least as it turned out in this case. To have a President-in-Waiting for almost three months would be almost unbelievable in many countries, but I think it is a great idea - because it is designed to transition the responsibility slowly and correctly. Of course, this is done not with intent - it is just the process of counting and tallying the electoral votes that takes the time.

There are concerns about security and still disbelief that a black man can actually become America's president. I picked up a joke in Ireland. It goes like this: When Obama turned up in haven, St Peter was guarding the gate [no surprises] and he asked Obama, 'And, who are you?' Obama replied, 'I am Barack Obama, the first black president of America'. St Peter, amazed, said,'Oh! I did not know that. When did this happen'. 'About twenty minutes ago', says Obama.

I am sure the security is tight all over America and the excitement is oozing out. I know more than 2 million people will possibly turn up at this inauguration, which I plan to watch, either on TV or on Facebook. But what will be on every one's mind is such dreams, such possibilities are usually fragile - remember Martin Luther King Jr. - and everyone of us, across the world, must do our best to protect the possibility and foster the opportunity. This is an unique moment in the whole human history, when democracy has finally triumphed and showed what it can achieve. We must keep this flame burning.

Obama obviously comes at a difficult time, but his intentions are somewhat clear now. He will not bring in a revolution, and pack Americans off Iraq tomorrow. That is understandable. In real life, you can't be ideological. If he tries to pack off American soldiers off Iraq on the first plane - he can't. There are simply not so many planes to carry all the soldiers and their kits. So, some have to be left on the ground, who will then be exposed to more danger. He has to do an orderly transition. He has to ensure that Iraq does not become another failed state. He has to tread cautiously.

Interestingly Obama knows this and this is why he is the President. But the way Israelis packed their bags and ran from Gaza tells us that they had this license to finish off from Bush and Condi Rice, but they can't carry on any longer. Obama will, hopefully, show firmness and fairness dealing with this conflict, one which is endangering the world not just by fostering terrorism but also by lowering the moral authority of state power. One can not let Israelis go on killing innocent children. As I said earlier, I was moved by the plight of Baby Moshe in Mumbai; however, I can see Israeli government behaves no more civilly than those terrorists in Nariman House.

So, that gets us to January 20th. I have a full diary, and I shall wait, with baited breath, for Obama.

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