As 2009 recedes into the past making way for 2010, it’s time to recollect the events that marked the outgoing year. I will take a look both at personal and general events because, although our lives are often touched and shaped by events around us, there are certain matters that remain within the contours of the personal, disconnected with the world in general; and when we look back on a slice of time to assess whether it was good or bad, it is these personal matters that define the essence of the time. And yet grand world affairs like terrorism, climate change, elections, floods and riots tell us that we can never be completely insular.
We started the year with the knowledge that 2009 wouldn't mark the end of recession. Companies and financial institutions kept going bankrupt. Some lost their employments and others feared that they might be the next to follow.
On the personal front, the year started on a sad note for my office team, as our favorite team leader left the company to join another one.
But as the year rolled into February, Americans popped the bubbly. The US got a new president in Barack Obama. The coming of Obama created history – Obama being the first black president of the US – and promised to change the future. His coming brought a sudden rush of hopes. He promised to bail out the US from the crippling effects of recession and set it back in its role of global leadership (whatever the leftists make of that). He also set himself the difficult task of improving the global image of the US by mending relations with the Islamic world and solving the Israel Palestine problem.
Although the recession has slightly loosened its grip on America, the olive branch Obama had extended to Iran was snubbed and the Israel Palestine crisis rages on. But it would be fair to assess his performance when he completes his one year as US president in February 2010.
For me, the year marked the loss of a dear friend and colleague, Avishek Basu. One day, after bathing, when I was venturing out for lunch, I got a call from Avishek’s wife informing me that Avishek had passed away early that morning. Benumbed, I paced back and forth trying to make sense of it; I had never heard of him being ill. It was a sudden heart attack the doctors said later.
A few months later, the air became thick with political slanging match and parties running helter skelter to stitch together political alliances for power sharing. It was time for general elections in India. The Congress came to power to serve its second term in a row. Dr. Manmohan Singh became the first Indian prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to serve two consecutive terms.
We started 2009 with the hang over of Mumbai terrorist attacks and heightened security, but lived through the year in relative peace. Occasional periods of peace notwithstanding, terrorism is beginning to establish a constant connect with our lives: either through direct blood spill or hyper security or a ‘when and where will it strike next’ fear.
As the year further moved on, through the chaos of economic doom, politics and terrorism emerged the relief of literature. Hillary Mantel won the Booker prize for Wolf Hall, a historical novel with Tudor England as its setting. (I have bought the book but haven’t read it yet.)
Wish you all a very happy 2010.