I was not quite 19 when I left shores of my native country for the promise of America, an only child of accomplished parents whose ambitions for their son did not necessarily embrace the possibility of his going away from home forever. But thats what happened. It wasnt as though I never returned, but those were occasional visits. Never again would I live in my parents apartment, never again would I wander aimlessly through the clangourous byways of the city where I was born not long after the British Raj ended. Whenever I visited, there would be a purpose - a story to be pursued, a book to be researched, perhaps an important birthday of a close friend, and, saddest of all, the deaths of my father and mother in the same year, a quarter of a century ago. The choice to move my home was, of course, entirely mine. But that choice was driven by an ambition to succeed, no doubt a characteristic that Id absorbed watching my mother develop into an acclaimed academician and a widely published author and my father apply his legal training in the field of banking. I realise in those moments that while I am her son, and while I am also the progeny of my father, thats where the linkage stops. They had far fewer privileges than I did while growing up, they had far fewer opportunities to traverse the world, and while their own lives exemplified the enduring values of tolerance and understanding, they never quite got the chance to study intensively how those values played out in societies such as the UAE, which exquisitely embroider diversity into their national fabric. So it would be fair to say that Ive been far more fortunate than my parents. But it would also be fair to ask, has my life been as fulfilling as theirs? To what extent has my work in journalism and public diplomacy been a catalyst for change in the societies where Ive lived and worked? Has my life made a difference to those around me? I reflect on these matters now because Im about to attend a very big reunion of my college class in America. I havent kept up with many of my classmates - my loss entirely, to be sure - but I have, from time to time, marvelled at the temporal triumphs of some of them. I also confess to dismay over not having sustained the narrative of our collective youth. That youth was tested and tried in the cauldron of major social and political upheavals in the US: my college years coincided with those of the waning years of the war in Vietnam and Cambodia. The anthem of our college years was Fire and Rain, that haunting composition by James Taylor that has been the soundtrack of my life in the years since. Where did those years go? I know where Ive been, but did I sufficiently recognise the places that I visited, particularly those lodged within myself? Did I ask the right questions, especially of myself? What explained my judgment calls, notably those that proved unwise. Did I love enough? Did I care enough? Did I give enough of myself to those who extended themselves for me? Was I kind enough? Was I considerate enough? Did I show up on those occasions when my presence would have provided solace for those in distress? So many questions swell within me as my class reunion approaches. But my former classmates arent going to be able to address them; they, too, would have their own inner demons and danseuses. I realise that when I see the men and women I went to college with, even more questions will arise about the life I - and they - have led. I realise, too, that no one but myself will be able to offer the answers, at least about myself. But I also realise that Im really not so sure about that either. Khaleej Times