Wednesday, 30 November 2016


When my phone was stolen in September and, after I got it back, I realised someone had signed into the phone. It was not the thief but maybe a middle person who had bought it or is in the business of buying stolen phones and, selling them onwards. The phone was recovered from behind the South Beach prison by the police. 

A few weeks later, we had a break in and, the thief was apprehended same day and, the picture we had of the thief was not the same as the fellow who had signed into my phone. 

When I got my phone back and realised someone else had signed into Facebook on my phone, I had a lot of fun with this fellow's Facebook account. I would frequently update this person's Facebook status and, write things like "Why did God make a phone thief? Why?" while drinking beers at Royal Hotel. Or, I would compliment all the women on his Newsfeed and ask them to marry him. The funniest thing is that someone would Like it or not really catch on at all. 

Honestly, I didn't feel much guilt for going through this person's Newsfeed or by posting embarrassing updates. 

After some time, I would see the Newsfeed as a very interesting and fascinating place to see how the Liberian folks use social media. 

There are so many selfies and pictures of folks just posing. They are going to school or to the office and, stylishly pose for a series of pictures. There are selfies of folks in taxis on their way to work.

Some of the selfies are quite orchestrated and, manufactured. The auto photographers have taken time to think about light, angles and, how good they look. Sometimes the selfies are what people think selfies are supposed to be about: pouting your lips. Sometimes, you notice folks are not even smiling and taking a selfie with pouting lips. There are also selfies made in a very unflattering angle, the camera right below the chin with no regard for light. It feels like we the viewers are crouching on the ground looking up at very unsightly faces.

The captions too are interesting: thanking God Almighty or sweet Jesus for another day or affirming belief that Jesus has something good in store for them. There are captions that praise one own's beauty i.e. #PRETTY_ME_ALWAYs_CUTE#. There are photographs of folks celebrating a good Church Servie. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The muck and mire of expat lives

About a week ago, I crossed a make-shift bridge which collapsed and I fell into an extremely questionable swamp. It was one of the most uncomfortable and wretched moments for me.

This happened during a Saturday HASH walk which I was already initially planning on boycotting but somehow found myself agreeing to join Haresh and my friends. 

I've not been on many HASH walks but most of them involved going through humble communities, even poor ones. The one before this last one involved going through congested slums, walking right past peoples' homes, through tight lanes, past peoples' lives which because of lack of space, extends beyond four walls. What are you supposed to do when you walk past trash, ram shackle homes, children playing near garbage, intolerable garbage rotting outside homes, and communities which are living without solid walls and roofs, without dependable electricity and water and, are probably experiencing theft and even armed robbery that we read and hear about? Should you look away? Smile unapologetically? Ignore it? Shrug it off? 

What should you do when you go across a shaky and wobbly bridge used by community members? Think it's an "African adventure" and use it for an Instagram moment? 

These past few times, I felt the walks were very intrusive, disrespectful and, I failed to see what was the purpose of going through such congested slum communities? We surely were not stopping to say hello, do any meaningful social work, so what was the point? 

I felt embarrassed that I was face to face with such poor living conditions and, I was there merely as a passer by. Sure, I would greet people on the way and but really, what was I doing there, walking past? 

Does poverty provide a scenic walk for expatriate aid, development workers who ironically live in luxury compounds in Monrovia, a far cry from how ordinary Liberians live, but in whose name billions of dollars has been poured in to help and save them? I guess it does.

I noticed a couple of other walkers seemed to think on the same lines as me but most people were happy to just get some good old exercise. 

I observed the walks and runs ended in the same jolly crude singing, joking about all the shit and mud they had been through, and thinking of the most embarrassing sexual innuendos for names for new comers to the group. 

I was simply not very comfortable in this seemingly careless and rather obnoxious walking style. Nevertheless, I found myself giving another shot to this HASH walk for Haresh's sake, our dog Bijli and Kavita who loves walking. 

This last Saturday, we walked through an especially vulnerable community spread across a very swampy area of town. There was mud everywhere and, we carefully followed a trail set across this mud and swamps. A passer by offered to help me across a single plank over a wide section of a swamp. After a couple of steps, the plank cracked in two and, we both fell into this extremely dirty swamp. The hare (the person who has set the trail and leads the walk) jumped in behind me and, the ones in the front helped me out. 

I was completely overwhelmed and, disgusted. I felt I had fallen into sewage, a gutter. The community member who was trying to help me himself fell into this filth and, I was overcome with embarrassment. I apologised over and over and, I'm sure his mobile phone was damaged.  I walked in a daze and, was met with people from the same community. A few them were extremely concerned and offered to get me new clothes. Another fellow holding his daughter in arms smiled and said "Welcome to Africa." I could only smile.

I felt angry and embarrassed and, also grateful for my friend and hare Kelly who didn't even pause for a second and jumped right into the swamp to help me out. I felt grateful to the community members who were so generous with helping me, offering to get me new clothes and, then dumped a couple of buckets of water on me, hauled from the well. 

I felt like an ignorant expatriate who I so self righteously claim I am not. I am too serious to pass through the most vulnerable societies who live in ram shackle homes in swamps that regularly get washed away in the rainy season, fending for themselves. I am too serious to pass through all this for fun unless I am actually going to do anything about it. I can't take it lightly. I am too serious. Even if I am not saving anyone, let me at least be embarrassed about inequality and injustice  in my own private corner at home. 

I was extremely angry at myself and at the situation and, felt I had doomed myself. I was so vocal about the insensitivity of these forays and, had myself fallen into a dirty swamp while trying to cross a flimsy bridge. I felt like an noisy tea kettle at best. 

After the incident, Haresh and I walked until we met the other group who Kavita happened to be with because she had been far ahead the whole time, helped by other friends in the walking group. I silently walked back to the car, with Haresh, Kavita and another friend behind me. Was it a walk of shame or what?

I lashed out at Haresh once when I realised my phone (it had been in my pocket) was full of mud and water, wanting to blame him but then quietened myself until we got home and, I scrubbed myself with Dettol and soap. I was itching  all over and, wondered what kind of filth was all over me. 

I haven't shared my thoughts with the Monrovia HASH group and, wonder whether it is useful even to do so.

This incident re-emphasised the idea in me that most folks I meet in the aid business are quite an uncritical lot. Despite being agents of change, I feel many of these folks don't challenge the status quo, don't question the impact (if any) of their work, don't see the obvious inequality, don't question the high living standards they enjoy themselves in a poor country like Liberia, why nothing is changing much,  and, don't really seem to be transformed by the place or work they do in any noticeable manner. Do folks not see the acute inequality and, feel embarrassed? Who cannot but be transformed by that realisation. One can't even have a decent, invigorating conversation! In fact, one is often confronted by racist remarks. 

The mud and filth I felt on my body was also the muck and mire of a very unjust and unequal world where, despite such advancements in science, technology and socialist ideology, people live in very abject conditions. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Trump trumped everyone

The unbelievable has happened and bewildered and depressed anchors, journalists, academics, pundits, pseudo-intellectuals, and Facebook and Twitter accounts will be analysing and dissecting Trump's victory for a long time to come. 

These are some of my favourite articles (with excerpts) I read online: 

1. Trump’s triumph by Najam Sethi, The Friday Times, TFT Issue: 11 Nov 2016:

Many months ago, Michael Moore got it right: “This wretched, ignorant, dangerous, part-time clown and full-time sociopath is going to be our next president”. He advised fellow-Americans who tought otherwise, to stop living in a bubble and face the truth. What is the truth? The truth is strewn around in bits and pieces. Hilary Clinton’s “unpopularity” because she can’t be “trusted”, not even by a majority of white women! Bernie Sanders’ depressed liberal voters who just couldn’t sufficiently drag themselves out of bed to vote for Hilary. Working class anger in the electorally critical industrial states of the Upper Midwest at Democrat policies in support of NAFTA that had taken away hundreds of thousands of jobs. But in the final analysis, it all boiled down to one main factor: fear. This fear translates into the majoritarian, protestant, white man’s angry last stand against “Feminazi”, against blacks, gays, “Mozies’, “outsiders”, “them”, etc, who are threatening to “take over” America and end this white male’s domination of the last 240 years!

There’s a bit of fatality involved here, to be sure, and a deep level of cynicism. Many of us feel that if America could not choose the best option, then it deserved the worst. Also, there’s a harsh desire for rough truth, rather than hypocritical garnish. In a sense, many Americans are Trump, but most of them like to think of themselves as closer in character to who Clinton (falsely) claims to be; liberal, democratic, leftist, humane, charitable, kind. There are some who faced the facts honestly, and admitted that, for all intents and purposes, Clinton was a criminal and a manipulator who plays ball with the worst human rights offenders on the planet (Saudi Arabia and Israel, for example) and relies on their financial and political support. They understood that when promising to continue Obama’s legacy, Clinton is in fact promising to kill another 4,000 innocent Pakistanis by drone strikes in an illegal attempt to murder untried ‘terrorists’. They understand that this is a woman for whom Madeline Albright is a role model, and Kissinger is an icon, a woman who started out Republican before swapping sides and acting as though she were a Democrat, most likely because she realized that, as a woman, she could go farther as a Democrat. This is a liar who claims to have been dodging sniper fire in a foreign land when she was being greeted with flowers.  Throughout the campaign, Clinton supporters have turned a blind eye to her failings. Somehow they were more horrified by what Trump may do than what Clinton already has done.

We need new metaphors. Many of us will feel tempted in the coming years to speak of Our Leader’s ‘black heart’, to call him ‘The Dark Lord,’ or to opine that we have entered a new age of darkness. Yes, I know that speaking of evil in terms of darkness and blackness is rooted in and ancient fear of places that have no light—of the dark forests of Grimm, the Black Forest, of haunted houses, and frozen winter nights—but these fearful darknesses are easily elided with the pernicious racism in our culture that seeps into our language and overtakes our intellect whether we like it or not. I vote for orange to be the new tint of evil. Orange is the new black: it’s already the name of a popular show. I love the color orange as much as the next painter, but it has many associations with evil besides the unnatural tint of The Small-Fingered One’s skin: the color of prison jumpsuits, Agent Orange, ‘nude’ stockings, that crayon that used to be called ‘skin color’ but now is labelled ‘apricot,’ and the sickly orange tinge of night skies in smog-smothered cities.

4. After Trump, Fear and Gloating in Pakistan by Mohammed Hanif,  NOV. 11, 2016 in The New York Times:

Pakistani democrats feel they have a special right to gloat. Over the last few days, some of them have been reminding the rest of us Pakistanis that we have never elected a right-wing fascist as our leader. They have reminded us that we elected a woman as our leader way before America even contemplated the possibility for itself. The late Benazir Bhutto was indeed the first woman to be elected as prime minister of a Muslim country. But we seem to have forgotten the ugly campaign against her, the sexual innuendoes and the doctored pictures — all this before Photoshop and social media. And let’s not forget that we managed to assassinate her 70 days after really, seriously, trying to kill her. We have also not even gotten around to finding out who killed her. And, as any working politician will remind you, her legacy doesn’t get you very many votes. American presidents have been fond of hosting Pakistani dictators at Camp David. Now it’s the turn of Americans themselves to be ruled by a dictator, and of their own choosing. We, at least, never picked ours.

5. Spoiled Americans now want to flee what they created by  Malak Chabkoun, 10 NOVEMBER 2016, in Al Jazeera:

Murmurs of migrating to Canada if Trump won apparently translated into reality, with the Canadian immigration website reportedly crashing as it became clear the electoral college votes were in his favour. These reactions make one pause and wonder how long these same people would last under the Arab and African dictatorships and occupiers the US has propped up and maintained positive ties with over the years. We now have a version of a "dictator-elect" in the US, and rather than promising to fight the changes he has threatened to implement, the initial reaction of many Americans has been to plot ways to flee. Honestly, the arrogance of Americans who are threatening to flee is breathtaking. They assume that the world will now welcome them with open arms because in a few months, they will be ruled by a less-than-desirable leader. One which, the world will be quick to mention, was actually chosen by Americans and not imposed on them by occupation or intervention.

6.  It was the Democrats' embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump by Naomi Klein in The Guardian on Wednesday 9 November 2016:

But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview – fully embodied by Hillary Clinton and her machine – is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake?

7. Dawn's Editorial Trump’s victory on Nov 10, 2016:

To Mr Trump have gone the electoral spoils; America and the world can only hope he will be a responsible leader.

8. Marwan Bishara's brilliant video "Welcome to my world, America. What does Trump mean for the Middle East?" It's not an article but fantastic video response. Marwan Bishara is Al Jazeera's senior political analyst and also hosts the Empire programme on Al Jazeera.

9. Black Women Were the Only Ones Who Tried to Save the World Tuesday Night BY: CHARLES D. ELLISON Posted: November 9, 2016 at The Root:

Trump has trumped everyone The calculus for black women in this election was abundantly clear, the stakes chillingly higher for sistren as they stood at a unique “Misogynoir-istic” intersection of racism and sexism. Crushed between the two most ferocious pillars of national hate, underappreciated for their contributions, while equally ignored for the challenges that oppress them, black women always find a way to make a needed statement; the lemonade from lemons, to subtly borrow from Beyoncé. And they just did it again, to no avail, when the rest of us fell crookedly short.


When forced to choose between race and gender lines, White Women will overwhelmingly pick race, every time. We knew it when Susan B Anthony said “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” Meanwhile 66% of White women voted for racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and all around incompetence. The verdict is in. No matter what your social media news feeds or your group chats or your brunches may imply, the fact of the matter is we are not nearly progressive as a nation as we purport to be. But that burden is not on us. We as Black people — as Black Women — don’t bear the weight of the loss. If anything, we can breathe easier as the rest of the world is being exposed to what we’ve known for over a century. That White Feminism still rests on the laurels of White Supremacy. And that’s not changing anytime soon.

11. Michael Moore’s “Morning After To-Do List” Facebook Post For Democrats Is Going Viral by Adam Albright-Hanna, November 9, 2016 in Good:

# 4. Everyone must stop saying they are “stunned” and “shocked.” What you mean to say is that you were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair. YEARS of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew. Along came a TV star they liked whose plan was to destroy both parties and tell them all “You're fired!” Trump’s victory is no surprise. He was never a joke. Treating him as one only strengthened him. He is both a creature and a creation of the media and the media will never own that.

12. Trump in the White House: An Interview With Noam Chomsky Monday, 14 November 2016, by C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout | Interview:

Trump trumped everyone   On November 8, the most powerful country in world history, which will set its stamp on what comes next, had an election. The outcome placed total control of the government -- executive, Congress, the Supreme Court -- in the hands of the Republican Party, which has become the most dangerous organization in world history.

13. The painfully obvious reason Christians voted for Trump (that liberals just don’t understand) in Life Site by JONATHON VAN MARE, Mon Nov 14, 2016N:

Many of my non-Christian and liberal friends find it bewildering that both evangelicals and Catholics voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, a thrice-married casino operator infamous for his vulgar trash talk. I want to take a moment to explain to them directly why most Christians voted for him anyway. It’s simple, really: Christians voted for Donald Trump because they felt that the treat a de facto third Obama term posed to Christian communities was an existential one.

14. Elite, White Feminism Gave Us Trump: It Needs to Die By Liza Featherstone / 12 November 2016 in Verso:

Her tone-deaf campaign didn’t even pretend to transcend such class divisions. Once she had secured the nomination, Clinton offered few ideas about how to make ordinary women’s lives better. That’s probably because what helps the average woman most is redistribution, and Clinton’s banker friends wouldn’t have liked that very much. #ImWithHer was a painfully uninspiring campaign slogan, appropriately highlighting that the entire campaign’s message centered on the individual candidate and her gender, rather than on a vision for society, or even women, as a whole. She wrote off huge swaths of the population as “deplorables” and didn’t even bother to campaign in Wisconsin. Among union members, her support was weak compared to other recent Democratic candidates, and, according to most exit polls, significantly lower than Obama’s was in 2008.

Feminism now has an opportunity to move beyond the go-girlism of the Sheryl Sandberg set. Left feminists must organize to protect women’s rights under Trump/Pence. We should work together to protect immigrants’ rights and religious freedoms, and prevent a likely assault on abortion rights. We also need to work on environmental issues at the state and local level, recognizing that nothing good can be achieved at the federal level under a regime of climate denialism. We need to strengthen institutions of the left: organize unions in our workplaces, join independent left parties, run progressive candidates for local and state offices, make and disseminate left media. We should work especially to help existing feminist efforts that are squarely focused on women’s material realities, whether that means joining local and state campaigns demanding paid sick days and family leave, single-payer health care or – especially right now – the Fight for $15.

15.  Alain Badiou: Reflections on the Recent Election | 9th November 2016 | UCLAL in Mariborchan It's Theory, Stupid!:

And, I think it’s not only the case here, with Don­ald Trump — racist, machiste [macho], viol­ent, and also, which is a fas­cist char­ac­ter­ist­ic, without any con­sid­er­a­tion for logic or ration­al­ity; because the dis­course, the mode of speak­ing of that sort of demo­crat­ic fas­cism is pre­cisely a sort of dis­lo­ca­tion of lan­guage, a sort of pos­sib­il­ity to say any­thing, and the con­trary of any­thing — there is no prob­lem, the lan­guage is not the lan­guage of explan­a­tion, but a lan­guage to cre­ate some affects; it’s an affect­ive lan­guage which cre­ates a false unity but a prac­tic­al unity. And so, we have that with Don­ald Trump, but it has been the case before in Ita­ly with Ber­lusconi. Ber­lusconi may be, I think, the first fig­ure of that sort of new demo­crat­ic fas­cism, with exactly the same char­ac­ter­ist­ics: vul­gar­ity, a sort of patho­lo­gic­al rela­tion­ship to women, and the pos­sib­il­ity to say and to do, pub­licly, some things which are unac­cept­able for the big part of human beings today. But that was the case also with Orbán in Hun­gary today, and in my sense, in France, it has been the case with Sarkozy. And it’s also the case pro­gress­ively in India or the Phil­lipines, and even in Poland or in Tur­key. So it’s really, at the scale of the world, the appar­i­tion of a new fig­ure of polit­ic­al determ­in­a­tion which is a fig­ure which is very often inside the demo­crat­ic con­sti­tu­tion but which is in some sense also out­side. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Passing through former colonies in West Africa

Traveling is really good for the soul and, not only are we physically transported to far off places, moods and people but we also experience rapture, wonder, and excitement. 

I just came back from Sao Tomé et Principé from a week-long holiday with Haresh and Kavita. I've always wanted to visit this 2-island nation since I read a description in a volume of Lonely Planet. 

Portuguese is spoken on the island and, being English speakers, we had somewhat of a challenging time communicating with the hotel staff, taxi drivers and restaurant waiters. On our first day on the island, we were taken to the Museum on a disorganised hotel tour where our guide was really only a driver couldn't translate what the caretaker of the Museum was saying. The caretaker was an old lady who had worked at the Museum for many years and, it was unfortunate we couldn't understand her. She spoke some French and we exchanged a few sentences after I mustered some high-school French and from mine and my family's time in Sénégal in the 90s. 

Portuguese was everywhere, no? Besides being mode of communication, it was on sign boards, restaurant menus and mannerisms. The island's name is Saint Thomas in Portuguese. Names are all in Portuguese - whether people, streets or towns. 

As an English-speaking tourist, Portuguese became an obstacle but we soon learned to communicate in non-verbal ways and, were happy to be in a completely different space. On our second day and third days, we struck lucky and had an English-speaking local guide who helped us to see his country from his point of view. We really enjoyed our lively conversations about colonisation, history, and the future of tourism. 

We met so many Portuguese tourists. We drank Portuguese wine. I heard spoken Portuguese, a language that I really enjoy hearing. 

I photographed the city's past-coloured colonial-era buildings and, was charmed by the picture-perfect views of the small town of Sao Tomé. We compared the São Sebastião Museum to the slave castle forts in Elmina and Cape Coast in Ghana and the Maison des Esclaves in Goreé Island in Sénégal. 

São Sebastião Museum is well preserved and, is quite charming with its pastel yellow colours in the inner court yard. Nevertheless, it is a symbol of slavery and colonisation and one cannot but be horrified and disturbed by what it represents. 

Passing through former colonies in West Africa is a living lesson in history. Step into Ghana and, you'll experience an Anglophone society with a street named after the Oxford Street in London, British Banks, and, of course, everyone speaking English. Friends who have come back from Sénégal often mention the French charm and French influence on local bakeries, restaurants and cuisine. Some will even go as far as to say that the locals have acquired their charm and grace because of the French presence. And, here in Liberia, one cannot miss the Americanisation or mirror image of American-style institutions, state, anthem, and dress. 

Sao Tomé made me deeply reflect on the legacy of slavery, colonisation, cultural and historical devastation, and, the imperialism of European languages. 

We visited a colonial-era coffee and cocoa factory where we shown how coffee and cocoa beans are sifted and roasted. It struck me that Europeans - and, indeed the rest of us - consider Swiss Chocolate or Italian coffee the best when it should be said that European technique of chocolate making or Italian style of drinking coffee is the best. There is no such thing as European coffee or European chocolate. It doesn't grow there nor do Europeans break their backs to grow and nurture it or have ever been enslaved to harvest it.  It should be referred to as Sao Tomean coffee and Sao Tomean chocolate, for example. 

We met many Portuguese and other Westerners during our touristic excursions, all of us busy in our scenic holidays. The Portuguese travellers were easily able to navigate the island because everyone spoke their language. They could even drink Portuguese wine and, watch Portuguese programmes on TV. They could meet other fellow Portuguese. They have direct flights back home and, probably could acquire good travel deals. They can enjoy the tropics of their former colony and, wonder how much guilt they feel that their forefathers exploited this land and, used it as a trading post for human souls. 

Sao Tomé's capital is utterly charming with its colonial buildings and cobbled roads. But many of them are crumbling and look like they have been abandoned. In fact one could see decay in the city on closer look with broken bannisters or and boarded up old buildings. Sure, the roads going through the rainforest are well paved but one could see shacks along the way. Slum-like dwellings were adjacent to the fancy hotel resort on Ilheu Das Rolas where tourists could enjoy fancy facilities and experiences like scuba diving. 

The hotel where we stayed is a Portuguese hotel chain. 

Is Sao Tomé really benefitting from its tourism industry and, most importantly, who is really controlling it? 

Our passionate conversations with our tour guide - a young Sao Tomean fellow with aspirations to set up a vibrant tourism agency - confirmed to us that there is a resentment against the former colonial masters for their exploitation and, for still controlling their economy. I was quite amused when Fernando pointed out that history tells us the islands were uninhabited before the Portuguese arrived but how come there are 4 main ethnic groups? He had worked for some of the main hotels before but now wouldn't work for a Portuguese employer because they don't pay well. 

What was the language and culture before the Portuguese arrived?

Language imperialism is one of the most striking legacies of colonisation and empire. 180,000 folks on the islands of Sao Tomé and Principé speak Portuguese because Europeans imposed this language on slaves and their descendants  for hundreds of years. 27 million folks in Ghana speak English because the British colonised their land and, it's the official language of government, trade, and education. 10 million Guineans speak English because the French controlled that part of West Africa. 13 million Senegalese speak French and French-style bakeries are in every corner of major cities. The same country engulfs tiny Gambia which by fluke was a British territory and therefore, English is spoken there. 

African languages have survived colonisation but I couldn't see any trace of local languages in Sao Tomé at first glance, being there only for a week. 

My experience in Sao Tomé showed me a small former European colony, a small poor country that relied on exports of coffee and chocolate and tourism. I saw abandoned colonial buildings and, a country that relied on European trade and, seemed to be dominated by Europeans still. I could see that middle class citizens of the former colonial master could still enjoy the island as tourists but wondered how many ordinary Sao Tomeans could just pick up and land in Lisbon to enjoy the sights and sounds. 

I am fully aware that my observations are merely perceptions from the surface but after Senegal, Ghana and Sao Tomé, there are certain things common to former European colonies that form a pattern: slave castles and forts, European languages that serve as lingua franca, colonial era buildings,    the independence square, presence of European residents and businesses, and ghosts of slavery. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Reaction to Donald Trump's victory

Reaction to Donald Trump's victory point by point: 

1) I was pretty sure Hillary Clinton was going to make it with the liberal press and media behind her. Her campaign seemingly became too easy - just let Trump's antics talk for themselves. Her campaign also became an emblem for American feminism. All looked good until the FBI decided to slip a confusing statement about the "e-mail scandals." In my mind, then, I started to believe that Trump actually has a chance. It goes to show how difficult it was to intellectually imagine Trump winning this election, which hints at our collective intellectual snobbery. 

2) Clinton's support base seems to be the elite, liberal class which is so shocked and surprised that the country has elected Trump. If Trump manipulated white, middle class fears then why is the political class so surprised? Why is this establishment surprised that the lowest denominators could have been tickled into a roaring "Make America Great Again" movement? 

3) Just perused through my News feed and saw a reaction by Paul Krugman, a very respected economist, who says in the New York Times: "We thought that the nation, while far from having transcended racial prejudice and misogyny, had become vastly more open and tolerant over time." This is a very naive statement to make. Who believes the United States is a racially equal and progressive society? Even we outsiders know that the United States is not fair, equal for black people who still suffer the legacy of slavery. When did the United States ever achieve racial equality and harmony for black people? When did the United States ever atone for its sins of slavery? Or, for its crimes abroad? 

4) This is a very very naive statement by Krugman and if the intellectual class of America is so naive, then it explains a lot.

5) Are we to read this as a victory for bigotry, racism and misogyny? Or, is this a general trend in populism which brought to power Modi, Marie Le Pen, Nigel Farage? 

6) Do we see this as a class and race war? 

7) It's such a contrast with the kind of graceful rhetoric that brought Obama to power in 2008 which was a historic moment and the divisive, crude rhetoric that brought Donald Trump to power in 2016, an equally historic moment. It's a white lash according to Van Jones

8) From Trump's graceful acceptance speech, it's not going to be an apocalypse. The man knows what he is doing. The market has sunk by 600 points but it will come back up and surely, reading of the stock market should not be the only worrying factor for champions of democracy and women's rights and equality and so on. 

9) How should the world react? Most Pakistanis I know have said from the outset: unfortunately nothing changes whether it's Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or George Bush. Barack Obama was not able to keep his promise of closing down Guantanamo and drone attacks increased in Pakistan and Afghanistan. American foreign policy almost never changes when it comes to war, interventions, regime changes, covert wars, or its stance for Israel. 

10) It's ironic that the US has elected a perceived bully to power as President while the country itself is seen as a bully on the world stage. 

11) We need to start separating rhetoric from actions and understand the differences. We perceive sometimes Obama and great world leaders as having great rhetoric but sometimes their policies do not match their words. For example, Obama did not close down Guantanamo Bay and, despite his perceived dislike of Israel's leaders, the country got a huge stash of aid from its big brother. In the same vein, we need to start following Trump's actions now and, separate his rhetoric from analysing and observing his actions and policies. 

What a stunning moment.