Aug 07, 2009 (LBO) – At this social function in Male, capital of Maldives, everyone was sipping soft drinks, coke, fanta, soda and what not. In this Islamic Republic, liquor is a taboo, but not tobacco. So, many were enjoying their cigarettes competing to fill the air with circles of smoke. I was introduced to this gentleman who was described as a leading businessman by my host. When the host said that he owned several islands and resorts, my eyes instantly became awe-stricken. He neither smoked nor sipped coke, as many others had been doing in that hall. He was simply sipping mineral water from a glass he held in his hand.
I tried to strike a conversation with him, but he appeared to be suspicious of strangers. It took some time for me to win his trust. Once a bond was sealed between us, he became quite open and poured out his thoughts freely.
‘How is business these days?’ I asked him. He nodded his head to indicate his unhappiness.
Dollar shortage and the black market in dollars
‘No cash. We’re all stuck. No dollars in the market’. His voice wa a little indignant.
‘Why is it?’ I asked him innocently.
He cast a surprised look at me as if I had asked a stupid question. Then, he realised that I was a visitor and could not be privy to all that had happe