Desert Friends – A Community of Leaders
In the recent months, Anna Hazare is spare heading a movement to fight against the high incidence of corruption in India.The movement assumed greater significance after scams being unearthed one after the other in recent times.Be it 2G scam, the Commonwealth Games scams!
About 14 years ago, back in August 1997, Syed Abdul Qadir [Aati Kya Khandala - a short story by Syed Abdul Qadir] has raised almost similar feeling in his editorial message to the Desert Friends.Here is an excellent article by Abdul Qadir on responsibilities that rest on individuals or communities.
The Desert Friends is group of Indian friends then working in Riyadh.I clearly remember how Abdul Qadir worked towards the birth of this lovely group called Desert Friends.He introduced his college friends to me and my friends working at the Industrial Area of Riyadh.It became a routine to meet once a week – either at our residence at Industrial Area housing or at Sulai at Babtain Housing complex.The meeting would be lot of entertainment – songs and dances!
I also remember how Hafeez Khan (read his editor “How to write an Editorial”) and his wife Reem Khan bumped into our group of friends. We were at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh for 50th Indian Independence Day celebration on 15 August 1997. [Honourable Hamid Ansair was then Ambassador of Indian Embassy in Riyadh, now he is the Vice President of India.]
Some of the Desert Friends have drifted apart, once again now. Hafeez Khan and his family is in Canada. Benny and Jaya are in USA. Imran was earliest person to move to USA. Fozail and his family (wife Shahida Sarwat wrote regularly for The Desert Times, read her first article here) moved to Malaysia. Ajmal Ali Khan is back in Goa, India (read our journey to Goa]. I returned to Bangalore in 2006. Now we need to strength this group – the Desert Friends once again – this time to work towards constructive causes and be truly called a community of leaders...
This article is taken from our newsletter “The Desert Times” dated 14 August 1997.
Desert Friends – A Community of Leaders...
By: Syed Abdul Qadir
An editorial by Syed Abdul Qadir in 14 August 1997 – on the eve of 50th Indian Independence Anniversary
Although the name came later on, but the beginning of this community was when, a sales engineer new to this city of Riyadh met his old college friends at Batha in Riyadh.
These friends, he was meeting after a gap of around 4 years. They were friends in college, but had drifted apart. Perhaps it was these very harsh conditions of the desert that accelerated the reunion. The major characteristic of the reunion was the immediate inclusivity. It was not required whether he as fit enough to join the gang. It is the same inclusivity, which brought the Sulai gang and Industrial City gang. And after the two groups ganged up, there was no stopping the growth. Let me clarify the term ‘inclusivity’, which I have used above. But inclusivity, I mean that Desert Friends includes almost everyone into its folds. In other groups people have to think before including any new member who wishes to join us.
I would describe Desert Friends as a live organism, which is fast growing. But that brings us to another aspect of living organisms. Living beings also suffer and have pain. Does that means Desert Friend is above all that. I would say No! Desert Friends also suffers when any of its members are in pain and suffering. But it does not come to the fore because of two reasons. One being the suffering member is not willing to share it. Second could be that, we consciously avoid taking up the issue, which will also cause us the pain.
Till date the common thread running through the community was entertainment – relaxation.But life is not always song and dance.Perhaps the chosen leader of the group had interpreted that Songs and Dance was the common thread, which brought us together.
But the listlessness of the last gathering is fact enough that we need something more.What is it?Anybody who has an answer should come forward.In our community each and everyone is the leader and everyone is responsible for the growth of the group.Are we shirking our responsibilities by passing them on to the chosen leader of the moment?
Let us convert our community into a movement.A movement, which will strive towards eradication of evils and promotion of world peace.
One of the most crippling viruses affecting our nation today is corruption.Let us see what we can do about it as Desert Friends.So I hope along with the song and dance – and celebration in the next gathering, we should discuss what we could contribute to stop this economic disease plaguing our beloved country - India.
Al Batha, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
A popular place for Indians to meet - specially during weekends...