The nip in the breeze was unmistakeable as the white Ford Fiesta pulled up just outside Gate No 6 at the awe-inspiring edifice — the Gulf News headquarters off Shaikh Zayed Road — on a quaint November morning, way back in 2003. I had been flown in, all the way from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, for an interview and trials for the position of a Sub-Editor on the Sports Desk at one of the most venerated media organisations in the Gulf and Middle East.
There were butterflies in my stomach as I cleared the physical and biometric security barriers to be first ushered into the Human Resources department on the ground floor, before being shown into the mammoth Newsroom on the first floor.
‘What a lovely place’
I knew I had only come for trials, which could go either way, but at the end of three days of a fairly rigorous exercise, when I was collecting my boarding pass at Dubai International for my Royal Brunei flight back home, there was just that tinge of sadness at one corner of my heart as I told myself: ‘God, what a lovely place Dubai is and what an office Gulf News has. But what if I don’t make the cut?’
And just as the Boeing 737 was taxiing its way towards the main runway for its climb to the skies, I knew that a new love affair had already taken off, widening my mindscape, way beyond those neon lights and the awesome skyscrapers on Shaikh Zayed Road: My love affair with Gulf News and Dubai.
About four months later, when I finally came to take up the job offer, it was nothing less than a dream-come-true, for Gulf News had reposed its trust in me and let me have my first overseas assignment.
Orange T-shirts and balloons
In 2008, when we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Gulf News, all of us employees were very lovingly handed two T-shirts in the brand colours of the organisation. Those orange T-shirts and the orange balloons hung all over the office premises that day were not orange really — they had all the seven colours of the rainbow in them: The trials and tribulations, the joy and the sorrow, the agony and ecstasy, the days and the nights of an organisation that had for many of us ceased to be just a source of bread and butter and metamorphosed into an extended family of sorts.
On the 42nd anniversary of Gulf News, as an employee who has given the best part of the last 16 years of his life to this brand, I feel proud and my eyes are moist — never knew that this city and this office would give me so much as a professional, enrich me so much emotionally as a human being.
The smartest arm
The majestic Burj Khalifa has literally risen before my eyes, the vast green patch of Safa Park has allowed the glistening waters of the Dubai Canal to gently pass by, the Broadsheet Gulf News has made way for the leaner Berliner and Brand Gulf News has seen gulfnews.com emerge as its smartest arm.
And through all this, my enduring bond with an organisation got richer, stronger and has risen even higher: Stretching my mindscape way beyond the landscape of this awesome land.