Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Recession: A year on.

A year back, Lehman Brothers, the icon of Wall Street and all that it stood for, came crumbling down, in almost prophetic fashion ushered in the worst economic recession that the world has ever seen. The event was not the crash of Wall Streets premier bank, but it was perhaps the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Economies around the world felt the economic tsunami that ensued, wave after tidal wave of what was bad news. The GGC economies, who had on the back of their liquidity, weathered previous recessions of global proportions without more than a sneeze, suddenly realized the interlinking of economies was perhaps more closely knotted than one would have imagined in the past.

The issue is what does it feel for a recession to be one year old? Well in large measure some people would say 'miserable' while others, who are prone to seeing the forest rather than count the trees, would say well 'value was created'. Indeed, its all about perspectives and its not like the world came to a standstill, even though belts were tightened and a difference emerged between those who hope it will all go away, and those who did something about it. China and India shrugged off the recession with remarkable ease, Germany and France has shown more grit than was expected. The United States has been a bit of a struggle but the stock markets are off their bottom levels, the impending collapse of some banks has been averted and in a sense there is evidence that things do have the thinest of hopes for a better recovery.

As bizarre as this may sound my guess is that the slide in the market will be arrested now and we may begin to see signs of a gradual recovery. It is more likely that this recovery will be slow with some stops and starts. In the context of the GGC and specifically the UAE I feel a little more optimistic given that liquidity levels have improved and the banks are beginning to see they have a more positive role to play and this will translate into a better economic performance. The recovery will not be euphoric but more cautious and this will be good for the overall health of the economy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rachel Alexandra: A filly that was born to triumph.

I am usually writing about social, political and economic issues, so why would a 3 year old filly called Rachel Alexandra capture my attention? Well for one, I have always loved horses and owning 56 of our own I guess makes the point, but more importantly I have loved those stories of triumph against impossible odds, and this Rachel Alexandra brings to us.
I have watched every single race this filly has ran, You Tube will testify to that obsession, and when she took on the big boys at Saratoga for the Woodward Stakes, I stayed up till past 2 AM to see her run. Two days later I see the video clips and the enormity of her victory dawns on me.

Calvin Boral is a great jockey, one who understands her well, but in the Woodward Stakes, perhaps seeking the safety of the rails he moved Rachel Alexandra towards them early in the race. Half way through it was apparent that the ruse was not working, as Rachel dug deep into mud and slush and it seemed that she would finally be beaten. Then 400 meters from the end as the two other bigger and stronger colts closed on her, Rachel found not only a second or third breath of air, she found the deep courage within her and suddenly you could see her hindquarters found that extra gear of power and stretched as she was in those closing moments, Rachel Alexandra brought a new meaning to the word determination.

To me it was Rachel who wanted to win the race more than Calvin Boral, her jockey, she wanted that race and she won it, irrespective of the quicksand of mud and slush she had to trample through. I believe if she has been on the outside of the track her victory would not have been a head only, it may well have been a few lengths.

I have photographed some amazing horses, Escape Ibn Navaronne (Arabian World Champion Stallion) Bess Faizah (Arabian World Champion Mare) Pysche’s Ambergem, and Marraaj, and to me getting the beauty and spirit of the horse matters a lot. Estishama, who we fondly call Esti, has been a pleasure to capture in the desert settings, trotting off with another mare.

Now I would love to capture the essence of this horse, Rachel Alexandra, not in her role as a racehorse, but in her role as a testimony to her will, her spirit and determination. This horse speaks to us, this is not only a journey of victories, as much as they matter to some, it is a testimony to the character of a horse that just wants to be the best and not in a race machine style but with the sensitivity and heart that I would love to capture in a photo.