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The best time to plant a tree

One of the benefits of travel is that history tends to come alive. Of course, that’s only for those who have read that history in the first place.

You read a book then visit the town it was set in; you appreciate both the book and the town. You almost wish to trace the foot prints of Blaise Pascal in Paris, of Winston Churchill at Uxbridge, and of Mandela in Soweto.

Great cities flaunt their history and try to build an economy around it. Even those who do not believe in their progenitors build economic monuments around the artefacts of their lives. The statue of Liberty is indeed the statue of an Egyptian slave woman, but it stands out today as “what we have which you don’t.” In Britain, there’s a monument for Harvard to let all know that he was born here before he moved there. Isaac Newton’s monumental apple tree is still in place. Won’t it be nice to test gravitation with a feather and a coin at the leaning Tower of Pisa where Galileo did the same?

I love the audacity of the Emiratis who have decided to ignore and maybe discount the timelines of Western monuments and documented history. They decided to build their own NOW.

France has the Eiffel and the Arc de Triomphe where even Hitler marched, but it’s Dubai that has the Museum of the Future, though still under construction.

While London has the dated yet world class metro whose tunnels were first built by hand, the fastest trains that even levitate on magnetism have chosen other places to berth: Japan.

Anyone who decides can still move forward no matter how long others have been moving.

As the Chinese saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now,” as long as we do plant, we can move forward as individuals and as nations.

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