' The Changing Face of Man in the Gulf

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The Changing Face of Man in the Gulf
By Jimmy Noronha

July 3, 2011

It is very encouraging to note that there has been a marked change in the outlook of the present generation in the Gulf as compared to their counterparts of yore.

Way back in the early 1950’s I had just begun attending school. There were, in all, three men in the Gulf from my Bellore village and whenever they happened to visit home by ship, after a span of three years, I used to look up to them with great awe, and admiration. For my innocent eyes, they appeared to be the embodiment of wealth, power, prosperity and everything that man looked for in this life on earth.

The way they dressed, the way they moved in their motor cars –  the only cars to flaunt in my village - that had the ordeal of crisscrossing from anywhere to everywhere  to test the cruel and  antique roads of my obscure place, always filled me with excitement.

I would look at them with envy, particularly, when they were gallivanting with a chauffeur at hand and their wives sticking to them, bedecked in gold ornaments that glittered in every perceivable piece of flesh in their hands and necks. Obviously, you cannot blame me, if, I in my tender and innocent mind had treasured the hope that one day I too would be like them, moving around in a chauffeur driven car with my fair and lovely bride with glittering gold “chipkoing” close to me in that happy hop round the village with all eyes glued on us?  I thought, nothing could please me better than my achieving this dream.

These men in the Gulf had not only great friends, in our Bellore village but also from far and near. In my impoverished village one could only go up to class VIII. Naturally, these three men had little avenue of going beyond VIIIth std. if at all they did, yet my villagers reserved such reverence for them that  no other person could ever dream of.

My father, the then the most successful businessman in the village, used to invite them virtually every other day whenever they came down on vacation. The guest would go on talking to my father during the evening while gormandizing over the spread tastefully and painfully laid out by my never say die mother.  The talk over the treat and more,  would go on at times deep into the night and the pitch of the tone of conversation would catapult to the deafening proportion as the time progressed to the wee hours of the night.  To my extreme delight, during the climax of the talk, my name invariably used to be dragged into the conversation.

I remember once during the conversation, there was this suggestion by the venerable guest about his desire to take me to Mumbai, get me educated there and later would take me to the Gulf. I liked that decision of his, spoken under the influence of alcohol but I was too young to know of it then? Now, nothing could have been closer to my dream of being one like them and here I was almost hitting the bull’s eye!! I was virtually in the seventh heaven with ecstasy. I would have screamed with joy if my dear mother wasn’t nearby!!

I did not care whether I finished my studies or not, all that mattered to my innocent mind was to be one like these three men with lots of money, gold, and a motor car.  I earnestly waited for the next visit of this gentleman during the week and when he came I was highly excited and I was all ears to the conversation. I began to eavesdrop as long as I could, and stayed put behind the door, and my mother tried her utmost to shoo me away but nothing could deter me from my resolve to listen. However, little did I realize then, that words spoken under the influence of wine had no value.

Apart from the great pomp, show and hollow talk of these men, I hardly ever noticed any sort of concrete contribution despite there being a crying need to alleviate the dismal state of the villagers who venerated these men. I do not think that my father had ever been invited in reciprocation despite playing such an admirable host.

Time passed, years rolled, I struggled on and then finished my education in the village and later in the city and settled in Mumbai. I kept visiting my village and now I was virtually oblivious of what transpired in my childhood about the men in the Gulf.

However, after several years, during one of my visits, I was struck with horror,  that two of those men had now returned to the village and with a quirk of destiny were now far from being even the shadow of what they once used to be! I felt terrible to see their present state of affairs.

They had returned for good from the Gulf, but simply could not handle the wealth that was accumulated all those years. Bad management, greedy relatives, and friends and above all, that dreaded drink had conspired to drive them to utter poverty and after a certain period they were prematurely driven into oblivion. The third one went on working to the last stage of his life and returned for good as a spent force, and soon after followed the rest.
This is all what I know about quite a few of those who went to Gulf in the days of yore. They went by ship, returned after three years or more, hardly had any sort of family life and went back again to return after three years!!  But then there were quite a few wise men who invested wisely and prospered but such lucky ones were few and far between.

On the other hand, on my recent visit down to Mangalore I was extremely delighted to see that the table has now turned. I was curiously and delightfully the witness to the breath of fresh Gulf air that has been sweeping the length and breadth of Mangalore and Udupi and the surrounding areas. There is a sea of change among the present generation in the Gulf. The picture is extremely rosy, as compared to that of their counterparts of yore when people came once in three years, while presently, most of the people in the Gulf live with their families. Gulf seems just a step away from home now and what’s more, the computer has brought the families and relatives even closer with various facilities to talk to each other and see one another on the monitor as and when one pleases.

I was a witness as recent as in May this year to see for myself the present scenario. I visited the patriarch of one of the families who has three of his children in the Gulf with their families and all the three have bought beautiful flats in the vicinity of Mangalore besides some land as well. I will not be surprised if they have a good bank balance as well. The patriarch himself was in the Gulf as a lonely soul earlier but could never dream of having the privileges that the present generation in the Gulf enjoys.

He has the latest luxury car for himself and another one for his wife and the family for regular use. Despite the man pushing in his late sixties, has not been idle and running his own business driving all around far and wide on his business venture.

Gone are the days when one could spot a man in Gulf sporting his thick gold chain and a big ring or rings and a Ray-Ban! The present day man in Gulf is a man in a hurry, he means business, thinks less of the present and more of the future. Neither sycophants, nor hangers on can ever influence him. Above all, while the man is concerned about his future also thinks of the welfare of his fellowmen.

If there is a sudden calamity in any family and deserves financial or moral support  it is the man in the Gulf who is right in the forefront to reach out to the family. No wonder that we have been greatly relieved in recent times that when a spate of calamities struck many a family, they have been relieved of the distress thanks to the philanthropic bent of these men in the Gulf who came to the rescue in a drove disregarding caste, creed and religion. 

The man in the Gulf has shunned that pomp and show, he means business. It is great to watch that many a man has turned an entrepreneur and what’s more,  made the most of his skill to learn the state of the art, to bring back home and establish his own establishment that has generated jobs to the needy.

The trend is here to stay, and we will soon have a Mangalore, not only with a vast sprinkling of millionaires, entrepreneurs but also philanthropists. They are bound to uplift the down trodden and the needy and we will soon see an ideal Konkan region to live in thanks to these gentlemen in the Gulf.


Jimmy Noronha - Archives:

Comments on this article
roshan braganza, udyavaraMonday, May 21, 2012
well written article. But the dream of gulf almost shutting down. Peaple here in india earning more than their gulf counterparts. India is booming and lot of mnc r cuming to india specially in metros. One more advantage they have is , to stay with their family ( full family say parents , granpa , grandma) , which their gulf friends don't have !
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jack, mumbai / dubaiSaturday, July 09, 2011
i remember during school holdidays when i went on vacation with parents to mangalore from bombay, we were looked at as superior species and given royal treatment wherever we went. Though i was very young, it made me a bit uncomfortable. I can imagine the treatment towards gulfies flaunting thick gold chains and wearing posh clothes.
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L N Rego, BendurThursday, July 07, 2011
Well written emphasizing the changing scenario. As i whole heartedly appreciate the writer, further i remind all our Gulf brethren Invest Wisely. The growth in Mangalore is spectacular and investing is worth but study the market. Help the needy we see same people supporting the community and our Mother tongue Konkani.Let the generous people inspire others too.

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Albert Gonsalves, Mangalore / U.A.E.Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Very well written and illustrated article. Keep up the good work
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Suneer, LondonMonday, July 04, 2011
A good article indeed. While India marches ahead, there are still grave dangers in its path. From corruption, pollution and climate change through to a population bursting at its seams and disparity in wealth. It is upto its denizens to change this.
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ashenoy, mangloorMonday, July 04, 2011
At the preasent days those who leave India to Gulf or any where to the west is an "opportunity forgone" in India. India is a walking elephant just risen and continue to walk for another 100 years and may be more. Trust me, India will be the future destination for jobs, jobs and jobs. It has a fantastic climate and huge resources from human to physical and alow cost of living compared to many nations where Indians like to go "PHOREN".
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Molly Munro, Kulshekar/DubaiMonday, July 04, 2011
A very well written, classy article Mr. Noronha with comparison to past and present day living. Today people live in the moment, they need new changes, quick money, there is no stopping, they keep planning for future – the result is an exciting, fast growing, magical world for the next generation. But in the past those very few who made it to the top could not sustain their wealth due to lack of investments, poor planning, that spontaneous nature and get going was somewhat missing in them. Thank you for the lovely article and hope to receive many more.
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Dave, MangaloreMonday, July 04, 2011

Past showing of opulence which held the village people in awe was replaced by todays realisation, that not everything is rosy in the sand dunes of gulf.  In the past many were unskilled- they endured the heat & dust with hardwork & knowing they have families back home as well as loans raised to get them the visas.

Todays generation is skilled, educated, know their potential & demand the right place & salary in gulf. They have all the amenities & enjoy holidays whenever they can. Young splurge while old have become stingy.

Many help others knowing the gulf boom might end any day, & they need to save for the rainy days.
Some keep a distance from the less fortunate(privledged) knowing(or thinking) they might ask them for their help.  What it means-

Irrespective of changing times the values- such as humanity, empathy, helping nature are still intact, despite the harsh reality of present which prompts them to run away from all the virtues.

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Sanjay, Cape TownMonday, July 04, 2011
Nice article Mr. Noronha.

Its amazing how technology has condensed distances.

More importantly for many, India is the land of opportunities and there is no need to go elsewhere unless on vacation.

For example I have friends who only go to the gulf as tourists from India.
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ruchi, dubaiMonday, July 04, 2011
Very Nice article as usual, thank you for that, but some comments, are strange, on the older generation, there we quite a few cases, but there were many good one, even today, there are some, but the percentage may be less, but pride etc, doesn't arise,because of their sacrifices, the present day GULF MAN as is called is doing what he can, look around the developement in the churches etc, didn't start now, it started quite a fews years ago, let not forget them or question their values, their children MANY of them are well settled in US/CANADA/GULF. Wish them good retired life. for all their sacrifices, and wish the present bunch the very best.
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Sushma, ChennaiSunday, July 03, 2011
Great Article, Uncle jimmy!!
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Norman Noronha, Goa/KuwaitSunday, July 03, 2011
Very well written article Bab Jimmy Noronha

I have read most of your articles and I really love them

God bless you and keep writting more !!!!
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Steve, KuwaitSunday, July 03, 2011
Truly said Sir. Present Gulf NRI's live on tomorrow rather than today. Since the Kuwaiti invasion in 1991 people have learnt a lot of lessons and the trend has changed now. The change has brought tremendous development in one's life and families. I have seen Gulf NRI's now investing in Mangalore and doubling their investment in less than 3 years. So it's all happening out there.
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A. S. Mathew, U.S.A.Sunday, July 03, 2011

Your article is very true.  When I saw the first "Persian" in our home village, everybody talked about him. We didn't know exactly in which Persian country he was working. Since great britain controlled many of those gulf countries in those days, everybody who worked in those areas was known as " Persian".

The first Persian had a thick golden chain, had an England-made Raleigh cycle, swiss made Favorluba or Westend watch and smoke Dunhill cigarette. His wife and children wore synthetic fiber (nylon)
clothings which was a rare item to watch in the land of cotton clothings. Also. the bathroom rubber sandals they used was a new surprise in the land of thick hand-made sandals mainly made from bus tyre.

He felt like the king in those days. When he was returned and settled, he was spending half of his time in the nearby toddy shop, and he and his generation is totally unknown now.

But, today's gulf employees are totally different and building houses and working to make a great future for themselves.

The foolish pride of the early "Persian valas" mislead them as the author has stated, a good majority of them are not in the memory of the villagers now.

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Wilfred Rego, Siddakatte / MumbaiSunday, July 03, 2011
A true narrative lifestyle differnce of old and new generation gulf NRIs.In the past people are having unending personal committments due to larger family and they are interested helping each other without thinking about future. The present people are brought-up in easy life and they seek quick money to become rich. The responsibilities and commitments are limited .
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Karuna, Mangalore/DubaiSunday, July 03, 2011
Nice article, but Jimmy, your article is little too premature to define the changes, just wait for the day when hundreds of flights start landing at Mangalore Airport, probably visiting Mangalore for Mangaloreans will be like travelling to Bangalore by night bus today. Changes that will take place will be beyond imangintion. Probably weekends mass can be attended at the church where the best part of your life was spent
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geoffrey, hathillSunday, July 03, 2011
A truly realistic write up. The story of 'three unwise men' not confined to Bellore alone, it's true for almost entire rural Mangalore of 60s 70s and 80s. Only in 90s and in the new milllennium gulf returns started to learn from other's mistakes. Now with the advent of IT and lots of other avenues open towards self employment, the lure of the desert hasn't remained as enticing as it used to.
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Tony, Mangalore/SydneySunday, July 03, 2011
A well written and illustrated article by Jimmy Noronha about the three men from his village of yore years, who had amassed great amount of money and wealth attermath their working in the gulf, but after their return could not sustain and hold on to it for long. These men did not know how to properly utilise their hard earned fortune, as they suddenly found they were idle and had plenty of time at their disposal, so sadly took up to drinking and smoking, etc, thus ending up harming their health. Yes, the trend has changed a lot - as Jimmy rightly described, the present generation mainly utilise their hard earned money in a sensible way by investing in a flat or putting aside safely in a bank deposit, etc. By the way, I liked your style of writing Jimmy, and keep going!
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Raj, udupiSunday, July 03, 2011
A very experienced article by Mr.Noronha.
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SRIDHAR SHETTY , DOHA /BARKURSunday, July 03, 2011
its nice study by Jimmy Noronha the The Changing Face of Man in the Gulf. it is true old gulf going people and new generation had lots of difference.new gulf people have their planing money managements.
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