I’ll take a VIP with an extra V on the side

“Things that I’ve loved. The things that I’ve lost. The things that I’ve held sacred that I’ve dropped.  I won’t lie no more, you can bet.  Don’t want to learn what I need to forget.” C Cornell

I have a little secret to share.  I am not from around here.  I mean I look a lot like I am from here.  When I go to places, they always assume I am from no where but here.  Truth be told (to be honest, I try to avoid telling the truth as much as possible…or was that a lie?), I am not like the rest of you.  People have always told me that I am strange but I think they are saying that just to make me happy.  So I always take these compliments with a pinch of salt.  There are two problems I have developed due to this; first, I have developed an addiction to salt (major health issues) and second, I now have a pinching habit.  It started with pinching salt, moved on to pinching things like pens, pencils, keys etc. and now it has come to pinching people.  So beware!

Kher, returning to the issue of not being from here.  Rumor has it that my parents found me in a field.  How do I know this?  Cause I am spreading the rumor.  In any case, what I am trying to “rumorize” is that, much like superman, I am an alien adopted by an Earth family.  Unlike superman, I came from a no-frills planet and have no super powers. Why am I telling you this – two reasons – maybe someone from Marvel comes across this post and decides to put me in a movie as the evil smart.  What’s evil smart? It is also a villain but many notches below evil genius.  Second reason, is that it will explain my actions.  I am an alien who is trying to blend in.  I am just trying to be a person.

You’re probably thinking (otherwise you would be a butterfly) so what’s the big deal about that.  The problem is that I live in a world of VIPs of Very Important Persons.  And that is fine for I am not one of them.  I know my place in life.  There are Persons, then Important Persons and finally there are Very Important Persons.  But really.  Are these third category persons really that important?  If they were, why would they need to announce it and carry banners to remind the world that they are very important?  Shouldn’t their very importance shine through and make us awe in wonder.

But that is not the issue.  The other day I was driving past a stadium where an event was being held and I saw the usual signs for VIPs and lesser mortals…and then saw something that turned my world upside down (or maybe it was part of the Earth’s regular spin cycle).  It was something that gave me the sickening feeling where the heart drops into the stomach and starts mixing with the body’s food processor – that’s one way to love your food.  I saw a sign that said “Entrance for VVIPs”.  What was that?  An entrance for Very “Very Important Persons”?  Did this breed of people even exist?  Or was it just something people had made up…you know like evolution and global warming?

I just stopped in my tracks – yes I wear track pants these days cause my regular pants don’t fit me anymore – and read it again.  It was definitely V VIP.  Had I just been demoted in societal hierarchy?  Was it their way of saying I was less than a person now?  Would I have to fly cargo now?  Should I be driving a car?  Would I still have to pay taxes? Did I even exist to the world? To test the last one, I took off my shoes & socks and started running around – I was soon stopped and given a ticket for indecent exposure – so yes, I exist – I got that question answered.  But back to the main issue.  What was this VVIP?

Would the VVIPs feet even touch the ground?  Did it have feet? Was it even in human form?  Did it float through ether?  Could it travel through time? Would I be able to see it?  What magical powers did it possess? Could it get rid of war and hunger and poverty?  I am sure a V VIP, if it existed, would be a game changer.  Turns out I did not have to wonder for very long.  Much like Apple with the iPhone 7, it was just a marketing ploy where some VIPs were rebranded and reclassified to make them feel better about their sad lives – but they were no different from the other VIPs.

But imagine the shock waves it must have sent through the now, second tier VIP circles – yes, VIPs think the universe circles around them so they live in circles – all of a sudden they would be going to events where they are not more important than the actual event. Someone had created a new category of people who were Important-er than them.  I can imagine some of the mere VIPs would have stormed out of the arena if only they could read the sign saying EXIT.

And that is the issue with our world today.  We live in a VIP society.  Everyone is trying to claim superiority over another – through power, wealth, possessions.  There is this race to get ahead and own the next big thing.  It is a world of I-me-myself.  I have had people tell me that the poor deserve to be poor since there are sufficient opportunities in this world and they have earned their status in society through laziness.  This attitude is not just naive, it is bordering on being repulsive and abhorrent.  Class mobility is not something that is available for all.  If you are reading this post, then you are already in the top % of the world’s population – it is very dangerous for us to hold the view that the disadvantaged people deserve that place in life or that life is unfair so they should just suck it up and accept their reality.

If anything, these disadvantaged people should be treated as the VVIPs of this world.  We must dedicate our lives to making this an equity based existence so that we live in harmony.  One of my next few posts will be about an idea that, much like your perception of how good you are as a human being cause you feed the poor and give them employment as your serfs, is just a thought and not real.

However, I am a dreamer and if I can find enough dreamers, we can fight our nature to be greedy and selfish and we can create a society with equity.  Then again, maybe I am an alien and this place cannot exist on your planet.  Elon Musk…send me home…please…

“And on I read until the day was gone; And I sat in regret of all the things I’ve done; For all that I’ve blessed, and all that I’ve wronged. In dreams until my death I will wander on.” – C Cornell (1964-2017) – RIP!

Just Ordinary-ly,

The Lighter Side of Traveling LapTopless

“You’re the voice, try and understand it.  Make a noise and make it clear.” – J Farnham

Recently there has been a lot of back and forth about the ban on traveling with laptops in our carry on bags.  People are screaming that carrying laptops and iPads is part of their inalienable rights.  That the Wright Brothers intended man to travel with personal electronics and no one has the right to take this Wright right away.

Seriously?  I think all one has to do is look up to the stars to realize just how insignificant we really are and how these things are so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – but luckily the smog these days keeps the stars at bay…and we continue to think we are the reason for everything.

Kher, I was recently asked to participate in an MUN debate about the ban – and my task was to be the Delegate of US.  It was my job to drop any personal views I may have and defend the ban from a logical standpoint.  Clearly, the organizers had not done their homework and thought I was going to use logic as a crutch to present my argument.  Cute.

Here is what I presented to the attendees.


Let me start by thanking Mun for inviting to this important event.  I have been advised to refer to myself in the third person, as the Delegate of US.  Pretty much like Elmo.  In any case, an apology is required as the Delegate of US was unable to conduct research for this debate.  The reason is that the Delegate of US…wait…this is a real mouthful.  Hereinafter, please refer to the Delegate of US by the formal MUN acronym, DofUS (pron. doofus).  Yes, so DofUS was traveling last week and was supposed to work on this debate but the airline insisted on taking away DofUS’ laptop.  It was about some new rule that was being enforced.  Obviously, DofUS did not know much about this and could not research the topic.

In any case, people may tell you that the laptop rule is there to reduce the chances of terrorism.  If true, there is no point in discussing this as none of you have the necessary clearance to talk about the actionable intelligence that went into the justification of this ban.

Now that DofUS and other Dofii are here, we might as well talk about some other reasons that may have been at play for this ruling.  These are reasons so uncomfortable that no one is willing to talk about…it takes a real DofUS to discuss these:

  1. Saving $ and creating jobs.  In a recent study done by the BiGG4 (not to be confused with the Big4 accounting firms) – the Bigg4 is an alternate research firm that looks at hot issues and comes up with completely made up numbers.  In any case, the study showed that firms spend $97 million every year in upgrading their managers from economy to business class so that they can work on projects.  By banning laptops and iPads, US companies will save enough money to pay the salaries for either 4.2 CEOs or 1,204.4 entry level employees.
  1. Supporting the movie industry: A recent poll showed that people working on their machines on a flight are less likely to watch the inflight movies.  Instead these people are 84% more likely to go home and illegally stream these movies and shows.  As a result, the MPAA lobbied hard with the US Government and convinced them to enforce this rule to help reduce movie piracy.
  1. Fight Procrastination:  The US suffers $2.3 billion every year in lost productivity due to managerial procrastination.  A very random survey of business class travelers showed that 93% of all laptops users are really pretending to be working to (1) justify the upgrade to Business Class and (2) look cool.  The remaining 7% are actually working on projects that they needed to complete before the flight but they could not due to procrastination.  This is an effort to heal the people and increase productivity.
  1. Wealth Redistribution:  Now that airport staff knows that most travelers will be storing their electronics in their checked in luggage with those $3 locks, we expect the baggage marked with Business Class tags to be targeted for goodies.  This is an indirect form of taxation to help with the Government’s mission of wealth redistribution.

DofUS hopes that all of you have a better idea of the thinking behind this ban and it is expected that all DofII will support the ban in a bigly way.  DofUS has been told this is a tremendous ban and all the people support it making it the biggest ban in the history of the world.

In the end, DofUS would like to give you a heads up that the government is now looking into the threat posed by the underwear bomber.  Travel responsibly!

Thank you.


Needless to say, these facts were received with complete disbelief but that is ok – it will take time for the new abnormal to set in and soon people will learn to adjust to it…like they did to the regulations about 100 ml or less liquid containers in carry on bags.  Man is very flexible and learns to accept inconveniences…albeit with some grumbling…

But given all the hard made-up facts I mentioned, the next time you are traveling and do not have your laptop or iPad with you…consider yourself helping the average man and the below average man-ager (aka banker)…it is the least you can do by not doing it…

“Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?  ‘Cause all I ever have, Redemption song” – B Marley


Goodness footprint

“I know I was born and I know I’ll die.  The in-between is mine” – P Jam

I wear size 9 shoes.  Sometimes, when I want to feel more balanced, I switch to a size 9.5.  But this is only in North America…If I travel to Europe, they will call me a size 40…which is why I avoid buying footwear there.  The shoe size there makes me feel like I have hobbit feet…or perhaps clown shoes…(note to self: Check if Hobbits and Clowns share the same foot DNA)…(follow up note to self:  Find a Hobbit for a DNA sample).

The point is that I have a very, completely, extremely normal sized footprint…at least in the NAFTA region (for now?)…but in the continent of the has-been-super-powers aka Europe, I am a giant…albeit a vertically challenged one…yes, that’s me…a not-so-tall-giant…

Given that we shall all die one day, it is quite interesting that we keep hinting at our immortality  by using the term footprint to signify our lasting impact on this world…our carbon footprint…our digital footprint…our ecological footprint…and in some cases…our actual foot footprint…yes, try walking on a wet floor with shoes you were wearing outside and you will leave behind a foot footprint, a very angry cleaner and some choice words…

Now you may be a global warming denier and if so, to you these footprints are just excuses tree-huggers have created to get you to switch off your car when no one is in it…I agree with you…that is so wrong…how dare they suggest you get into a car that is not the ideal temperature for you…if man was meant to feel heat or cold, we would not have seasons…wait…we do have seasons…in any case, I will stereotype you into a group of oxygen wasters who are also likely to think the world is flat and gravity comes from the TV series Lost and Earth is at the center of the Uni-Worse and and seasons are man-made to guilt you into using less toilet paper when you wipe your brain and alternate facts are just bigly truths…

Kher, tow-may-tow…tow-mah-tow…you cannot disagree that the world is in bad shape…not saying it has not been bad before but just that things are not looking good these days…so why not think about a different type of footprint that addresses the issues that the other footprints are trying to fix.  Yes, I am talking about a Goodness Footprint.

Now you must be thinking “Wait,4-Rookie.  There is already a Kindness Footprint.  Do we really need a Goodness footprint? Isn’t that splitting hairs?”.  First of all, I will have you know that splitting hairs is one of the key strategies you adopt when your hair is thinning and you are doing a comb over.  Second, there is a big difference between goodness and kindness.  Goodness encompasses kindness but kindness does not envelope goodness.

Goodness refers to the nature of the person while kindness is just one dimension of the goodness in a person.  Kindness pertains to acts carried out by people that are beneficial to others with no apparent payoff to the actor involved.  You can be kind to strangers, to friends, to acquaintances, to kids, to elders etc.  Goodness, on the other hand (was I holding kindness in or on one hand?), is about the gentleness that resides in a person’s soul.  It is the ability to feel the pain of the poor, the sorrows of the soil and the whispering words of the wind.

Kindness is in actions.  Goodness is in the intention behind those actions.  Kindness is about helping others.  Goodness is having that behavior reflect in everything you do.  Charity in money is kindness.  Charity in money, thought, prayers and in every other action is goodness. Goodness can still exist without kind actions but kindness cannot occur in a goodness free zone.   Goodness is greater since it dictates actions that are beyond kindness.  Using Earth’s resources carefully…taking care of one’s own health…working to eradicate hate in this world…thinking good of others…fighting greed…it all stems from goodness…

But why should we do this?  I know that even if I try, I will not be able to change anything.  This is one of the most commonly used arguments against doing good in the world…why should we do it, for it will only inconvenience us while the world will go on without giving a care.  We cannot think like that.  We cannot start to think like we are souls that are dead before they are born…

We should embrace goodness because it is the right thing to do…and this is sort of footprint that can potentially spread to others…and one day there could be enough people with goodness in their eyes and light in their souls that the world may change.  Maybe it happens in my lifetime or maybe it happens many lifetimes from today but I remain hopeful that it will happen…

This reminds me of a story I once read.  It was so boring that I only read it once…but given that you are excited by boredom, allow me to bore you into excitement…this is a true story from 5,200 BC of a boy named Robertus Livius…but people around him used to call him Bob or ‘Ob Livius.  He was a very happy go lucky boy who was always going around helping people, animals and/or other living things…Note: Aliens would not arrive on Earth for another 2000 years when they came to Earth to build pyramids as a home for their not-so-pretty cats.   In any case, ‘Ob Livius was always smiling and people wondered what it was that kept him happy and smiling.  But ‘Obby  believed that if he tried hard enough, he could change the world and all the demons and monsters would go away.  He believed that he could convince others to join him and change the world…his job was not too difficult given that the population of Earth at the time was 38 human beings and 24 near-human beings…

One day ‘Ob was going down the street or maybe he was going up the street – directions had seemed irrelevant at the time…yes, it was a bad time for the GPS makers.  He could have been moving sideways as well but no one will know because as he was moving, he stopped to help a crying child…as he did that, the child struck him on the head with a stone and killed him. Literally, ‘Ob Livius never saw it coming…People do not really know if it was a child or an adult who killed him but the international newsrock, Stoned Daily, reported it was over a round shaped piece of rock.  Historians believe this rock went on to become the first wheel ever used by man and it was also the first reported case of Homicide and Grand Theft Auto.

The bottomline is that ‘Ob Livius died as he lived…helping others and it is said that had he not been killed at the young age of 12 and continued to live to a ripe old age of 18 years, his goodness footprint may have changed the way humans have evolved (sans humanity?).

So we owe it to him to try and become good in our hearts…to shun hatred…to become more tolerant of our differences…to not destroy the earth…to stand up to injustice…to make mankind great again…to tear down this wall (or to build it?  Which one is it?)…

So leave your goodness footprint on this planet…why shouldn’t you…you have already left your ugly footprint on the wet tiled floor.  Maybe one day our collective footprints will be large enough to overcome the footprints of the dirty souls…Let us do great things so that we are remembered as the ones who saved humanity’s life!  To indeed become immortals!

“Memories of our lives, of our works, our deeds will continue in others.”  R.Parks

‘Ob Livius forever-ly,


Boiling Frogs

“Tried to endure what I could not forgive” – Eddy Vedder

Kids are simple creatures.  They are literalists – they take things at face value cause they trust the world.  They have not yet seen our dark side.  Our lies. That’s why parents tell their kids not to speak to strangers…which seems strange to someone who sees the world as a beautiful place with no strangers…only new faces, things and places to explore.

But don’t worry – we will shape them and make sure they grow up and turn out to be just like us.  Sweet talking liars who are only looking out for their self interest…the better ones mask it with a thin coating of altruism and charity…Obviously you and your loved ones are different.  You are one of the few who does not bend the truth into lies and reshape the lies into truths.  You are the reason mankind is surviving.

Enough about the good people of this planet.  Nothing sadder than delusional people who think they don’t lie.  Actually that’s not true – there is a lot we are doing these days that is worse than lying (try reading the news and you will figure it out)…so…did I lie or was it just an alternate fact?

Kher, the subject of this post is boiling frogs.  That seems cruel but it is just an anecdote.  It explains how a frog put into boiling water will jump out of the water but if you put it (gender neutral please) in cold water and put it on boil, the frog will stay inside and die.  This is something I was told when I was a kid – clearly the age reference doesn’t help as I am usually a kid at least two days each week – and being a literalist, I took the boiling frog idea as a cool one for a cooler experiment with hot water.

Don’t worry – I never got to the point of putting a live frog in boiling water – I was just too slow at catching frogs but I did learn that the even slower frogs explode if you accidentally step on them.  That was also the point where I made it a habit to always wear shoes when going frog hunting or doing something where I could accidentally step on hopping or non-hopping creatures.  Aah…life lessons…

It was only later on in life that I figured out the boiling frogs experiment was a metaphorical one.  Although, my request to the people who eat frog legs (yuck! What is wrong with you? Is it because you spoke to strangers as a kid?), on your way to next frog leg detachment process, perhaps you should try the boiling experiment to see if it is even true or not.  I wait for an update from you…

One way of looking at this metaphor is that people who are new to a place with problems may notice things that other people, who have been there for a long time, may not notice especially if the deterioration has been gradual.  This also explains why people wearing an unwashed shirt for 7 days straight may not notice the strong smell emanating from it – my message to them…stop wondering why your friends drop off the longer you wear the shirt…on the upside, if the smell is bad enough, the shirt may also serve as an insect repellent.

I was speaking to a friend who recently recruited somebody I know.  She told me how refreshing it is to have someone who will ask questions about the way things are being done.  Being new to the firm, the kid was looking to understand the business and while doing that, he would question norms that did not make sense to him, a newbie.  She told me that she often has no answers for him since the practice may be quite silly or inefficient but it is there because, over time, people got used to the stupid rules and no one thought about them.  So he is the proverbial frog thrown into the boiling water and he seems to be jumping around.

Looking at my own example, when I moved to a new company, I was shocked by the inefficiencies and stupidity of some of the policies and practices.  I was ready to scream and I did scream and shout and tried to change things. I would challenge anything that did not make sense and not give up until I was given an answer which was often quite ludicrous.

Over time, I noticed that I stopped being so shocked at things and at times felt the fire in me was not burning as bright.  There could be a few reasons for it.  First, maybe I was able to change things and got rid of the crazy practices so there was little left to fix.  However, systems have inertia and are so resistant to change that it is almost impossible for someone junior and new to move things around.

Another reason could be that I was given explanations for the seemingly stupid rules and as I understood some of the issues and the history of the place, I began to accept these.  However, some things we did were so dumb that no amount of explanation would suffice.

A third reason could be that as I moved up the ranks, I chose to accept these in order to be more selective about the battles I picked.  After all, one cannot be at war all the time on all fronts.

The final and most likely reason is that I got tired and stopped noticing things that bothered me initially.  As I started accepting these practices as norms, I started getting boiled alive with my fellow frogs who had either stopped asking as well or were already dead when they entered the cold water on boil.

But the quest for improvement must never be given up.  We should continue to fight for things that are right.  Just because we may not win does not mean we do not try.  There are many places where we know we will fail…like fighting death maybe?  Does that mean we stop fighting? Never.

I am visiting the city of my birth these days.  A few hours ago I met an elderly storekeeper who started telling me how the city has gone to the dogs…luckily the dogs returned it saying they had higher standards so it is for the humans to clean up their mess (not sure if that is a good thing or not).  In any case, he told me how people no longer have patience and all manners are lost.  He mentioned how people here are ready to fight each other and live in a constant state of anger.  At the same time we are accepting this behavior as the norm.  A city of stressed out people, willing to fight and die for the silliest of reasons – Mad Max?  Sadly, the people never noticed when the water started getting warm and now it may be too late.  In his words, all cities are the same…with the same trees and roads…these things are not evil…it’s the people who define the evil madness in a city…

And this conversation made me realize that I need to keep hopping around and if the temperature seems to go up, it is time for me to either change things and make it cooler or change the water I am in.  I will not sit idly and accept moronic rules – I will not die the slow death.  If enough of us agree that we will not accept moronocity (the behavior and not the website), we can build a world worth fighting for.

“Love the world except for all its people…” – Men At Work

This water is on fire-ly,


The Sun Always Shines on Bullies

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” K. Gibran

Heads up – the first part of this post has little to do with the subject (and it’s long)…but if you have read anything I have written before, you know I never talk about things directly.  That is something only boring people do…or people who are busy…or people who know what they want to say…or people who plan things out…or people who care about the readers…unfortunately for you, I have never been accused of being any of the above…so read on…

I grew up in a sunny country.  In fact, most people would say there was too much sun.  I got lots of it – we had so much sun, that one would think Vitamin D could have been a major national export to the rest of the world – feels strange to say “rest of the world” when there is nothing really restful about it given the amount of killing, hunger, greed we see around us these days.  But this is not about depressing subjects that we try to block out from our happy lives…or is it?  Hmm…

Where was I? I don’t know where I am or where I have been but I know where I want to be.  Again, that is also not the subject of this post.  Yes, Vitamin D.  Before any doctor (or geeky person who loves to read articles about health) points out that a lot of sunny country residents have Vitamin D deficiency as they avoid being in the sun, let me point out that this is my post and logic & rationality has no place in my world.  Yes, these two traits, while sounding good, also make people into boring, drones who are no fun to talk to…don’t believe me?  Look at all the major philosophers…very rational and logical.  All they did was talk to themselves (those pictures with these philosophers surrounded by students were all photoshopped) and write about it (bloggers?)…it was not because they loved thinking but because they were so boring that no one wanted to talk to them.  Yes, Socrates and Descartes and Confucius were boring old men ever since their early tween years.  Have you even seen their photographs.  I tried but couldn’t cause they seemed so boring that I fell asleep before my brain could process it.

Kher, the point was that I lived in a sunny place.  And every year we would get wall calendars with beautiful scenes printed on them.  The one common thread linking most calendars was typically some mountainous area with snow, rivers, clouds and trees.  All the stuff that we normally did not see.  Poor me…growing up in a sunny place near the beach dreaming of clouds and snow and trees.  Life was just not fair.

But then things changed.  I moved to a cooler country – cooler, definitely in terms of climate and maybe other aspects too.  And it would snow there.  Snow.  That beautiful white fluffy water floating down from the heavens. I was sold on the idea.  After all, who doesn’t love ice cream (a rhetorical question)…and this was free ice cream falling from the sky.  Who cares if it was water flavored.  With a little imagination, I could think of any flavor I craved.  This place also got a lot of rain.  Heaven couldn’t be sweeter than this – actually given that the snow was water flavored, I clearly meant sweeter metaphorically and not literally.  Free ice cream 4 months of the year and the rest of the year was peppered with clouds and rain…first reference to sweet and now pepper?  I am just hungry for some flavor in this bland world.

The point is that new home was not as cursed with sunlight as the home I was coming from.  But I was shocked to learn that the locals craved the sun.  I mean the day could be a horrible one with temperatures in the 40s (Celsius) but if the sun was out, they would call it “a beautiful day”.  On certain days, heat resistant flies would be dying of the heat…just to be clear, these are the flies that, through thousands of years of evolution, developed the ability to withstand extreme heat and transport germs from one area to another.  Even these insects would be dying…but they would still call it a beautiful day…all because the sun was out…And their lives would become gloomy when the snowfall would start.  I was one of the few crazy ones who would be trudging along in knee deep snow with a smile on my face.  Ever so strange.  I recall having a team meeting with some fellow students and they wanted to sit on the patio of the restaurant.  I could not believe it.  Luckily, better sense prevailed and we took up space inside the restaurant.

It’s just that our preferences are very cultural and depend on where we are coming from.  To further drive this point home, even poetry becomes situational.  There is a line from an English song which conveys a sense of happiness and love,

“You are the sunshine of my life…”

Clearly, in my part of the world, this would be a curse and would probably lead to bloodshed and maybe some unshed bloodshed (but definitely lots of gossip).  By comparison, there is a poem from a sunny part of the world that goes (literal translation),

“Sometimes. Sometimes. In my heart a thought occurs. That life beneath the soft shade of your long hair, if spent, could have been blissful.”

Do not ask why a thought occurred in his heart and not his head.  Also, the idea of spending a life beneath someone’s long hair paints a disturbing image…creepy.  Unless…this was the theme song of Rapunzel.  But it was not.

Furthermore (yes, further and more…twice the distance)…we all know how the English are always complaining about the clouds and dull grey weather.  Cause they get lots of it.  To be fair, the English are generally grumpy people.  No, I am not generalizing.  I actually know two people who are British and both are grumpy so I have evidence to back it up – and if one of the two is reading this, I meant the other British friend…definitely not you. You are so much more less-fun not to be with!

The takeaway from this? I don’t know.  You go figure it out.  No! I know I spoil you by spoonfeeding you (more hygienic than hand feeding) so here is the key idea.  That we see the world and define norms based on our environment.  Got too much sun and you will enjoy clouds.  Got clouds all the time and you will crave sunshine.  Sadly, this is not limited to weather preferences.  It extends to all facets of life.

It is reflected in what we consider to be normal behavior.  In some cultures you insist repeatedly that your guests have tea with you and unless you ask multiple times, you may be considered a bad host.  On the other hand, cultures, where you ask once and move on, may think this persistent offer of a hot beverage to be quite irritating.  One has to be careful to take things in the right context else you run the risk of coming across as uncouth or rude.

However, there are certain things that one finds to be common across cultures and countries.  These could be values like not stealing from others (or oneself), hurting or killing people, working hard etc.  All good things that societies can be proud of.  However, there is one that seems to be not so good and we see this run across most cultures – the support of bullying.

Yes, I know you will be saying “What?  He’s really lost it now”…truth be told (cause I am not one to tell it), I lost it a long time back and have, since then, learnt to enjoy my close encounters with insanity…there’s a certain arrogance to being crazy cause who wants to be like everyone else?

I know that we teach children to stand up to bullying and that pushing kids around is bad.  We tell them to report these to teachers and the schools are expected to take action against bullying.  However, this is all a waste of time.  If we want our kids to be successful (in the way society defines success), we should teach our children to be mean to others.

Why?  Look around you.  We are living in a world where the kind person is a weak one.  People take advantage of gentle beings.  They are considered pushovers.  Society is designed to reward the Type A personality.  There are educational programs where these aggressive people are herded into rooms and trained to go into the business world to achieve great success. We read books to help us become more vicious in our hunger for success.  We need that bigger, faster car…cause we have nowhere to go but want to get there fast…we need nicer suits…to essentially chase after worldly possessions like mad rabid dogs…and we often act like these animals competing for the same piece of food.

It is indeed sad that people who sacrifice for others are thought of as fools. Where businesses that try to help others are often at risk of being driven into the ground.  What will it take for our society to stop being so monetary success oriented?  What will it take for us to say no to people who push others around in the name of “being driven”.  Where are the school teachers to stop societal bullying when we were raised to rely on them to be around when we needed them.  Where is the school principal calling in the “adults” to intervene?

The problem is that the world is a school yard with no teachers or monitors. We see the bullies and mean kids race to the top at the expense of the more gentle souls.  And sadly, our society praises them.  Invites them as VIPs to events where the less aggressive ones are made to drive around looking for parking and find their seats in the dark – the ushers only guide the successful…others are left in the dark to find their place.

Success is a mistress of the obnoxious.  And this is the case all around the globe.  No matter where we go, we find that, with a few exceptions (yes, obviously you and all the people in your family), aggression is a prerequisite for success.  With all the differences between cultures and societies, why is the kind person almost always the one to get pushed around.

The sad truth is that we teach kids that bullying is bad.  It is to be reported and teachers step in to stop it.  At what point do we, as a society, change the odds to not favor the adult bullies.  And if we cannot do that, then let’s stop pretending to be good people and let our kids learn how to bully – after all, school is supposed to train them for the real world.  And what is more real than this?

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” M.Gandhi


Reflected, Deflected…A Life Rejected!

“This is the strangest life I’ve ever known” J.D.Morrison

Somebody once asked me the following.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, did it still make a sound?” I immediately recognized this as a trick question with the person trying to get into a discussion with me.  Normally I like discussing as much as the next guy (especially if the next guy is Socrates), but this particular person had as much depth as a puddle by the side of the road and he had this irritating habit of always being right – another me?  Now I know the question has no right or wrong answer, much like the stuff I teach..but what I really wanted to know was the reason for the question.  People who usually ask these questions have no real purpose in life other than sitting and talking about useless things like falling trees, pop music and how fast your car can accelerate to reach the traffic jam 30 meters away.

Kher, I thought long and hard for 2.3 seconds and retorted with a question of my own.  “If a person slips and falls to the ground and no one is watching, is it still as funny?”  And with that, I closed my eyes and shoved him to the ground.  Next thing I remember is waking up in bed, surrounded by cushions and a concussion.  I still cannot figure out whether he was falling or I was tripping.

Ahem…moving on.  It is the time of year again when I ask my students to think about life and write a reflection paper.  For many it is the first time they are really thinking about their purpose and goal in life and for some, it is an activity they may be doing everyday.  I typically receive a number of good, honest submissions and then there are the few that sound like scripted answers for a college essay or a job interview.  You know, the ones that talk about their work ethic, leadership & multicultural experiences and the one visit to the animal shelter they made when they were 15. But hey…writing fluff is also a skill and maybe they will go into advisory work where this could be an asset – if only they knew what the word asset meant…alas!

In any case, like I did with the previous group, I believe it is only fair that I also do a reflection paper to share some wisdom but mostly insanity I have experienced in my 94 years on this strange place they call Err-thh.

  1. Always smile.  Remember that a normal person looks at himself/herself for approximately 1% of the day – obviously this does not include the narcissistic types who have to look at themselves every 20 minutes in their iPhone (and no, that’s not why it is called iPhone) – but I talk about normal people.  Yes, so always smile because for the most part of the day, others can see your face and there is really no reason to advertise your mood to the world. The one big difference between us and animals, is our ability to control ourselves.  OK, so maybe that is not the one big difference as there are other bigger differences in terms of shape, intelligence, language skills, ability to lie/cheat/kill for pleasure, greed beyond reason.  You know, all the good stuff that separates us from animals.  Also, I think there are animals that can be trained to control themselves, e.g. dogs, cats (except their attitude). So really disregard this point.  But hey, even if you didn’t like it, keep smiling!
  2. Troubles and pain, much like my lectures, can fill up any space you offer.  It is a great blessing that we live in such a wonderful era of never seen before human suffering and hopelessness.   If sarcasm be the lowest form of humor, I am writing from the great undiscovered depths of wit.  I have met a number of people who complain about such inconsequential things that seem to be reason enough for the whole universe to be thrown into disarray.  Car not cool enough?  Too much salt in the pasta?  4G is not G enough?  Always remember to look at people who are not as fortunate as you (despite all your mega troubles).  There are kids dying trying to reach safer shores, parents watching their children die of hunger…while the world sits and debates on how to fix these problems and argues out issues so that their interests are not compromised.  You are the generation that can change this.  Do not become part of the problem and watch many more die on your watch…like we did.
  3. YOLO is DUMB.  YOLO is perhaps one of the stupidest piece of advice you could be given.  I have met a number of young people who shrug their shoulders, say YOLO and do really stupid things.  While you may only live once, you can lose many times, get hurt even more times and most important, YODO!!! Yes, You Only Die Once.  So if you want to be crazy and opt out of the gene pool thanks to your YOLO attitude, you’re probably doing us all a favor.  Else, remember, YOLO is DUMB – yes, it’s “Definitely and Undoubtedly Moronic Bull”!
  4. Don’t hang with people who say don’t. I recently told someone that it’s not our age that kills us but it’s the aging.  It is in our nature to murder our own dreams and then turn to others and squash their dreams, through our negativity and cynicism. When you have any idea that seems chasing after, you will find yourself surrounded by people who point out why things will not work out.  Shun these people and their thoughts from your life, even if it means leaving close ones behind.  If you want to rise above the clouds, you must first lose people who keep dragging you under.  Always be with enablers.  Instead of friends who ask why, find friends who tell you why not!
  5. Don’t just think outside the box, start living there.  There’s a saying that one should not reinvent the wheel.  I bet if people knew the true story of the wheel they would not be saying it.  In case you do not know, let me tell you.  We need to travel back in time to 3527 BC when the great inventor, Standstillah, announced to the world that he had invented the wheel.  You can imagine the hype this created.  Let’s just say it was similar to the uproar that would be created if a Twix flavored iPhone was released with a battery that lasted 2 days (and a charging cable that outlasted the phone).  Wow!  Life came to a stop.  Everyone wanted to get a part of this crazy new invention – especially the factory owners whose plants were not working due to the absence of a wheel.  But there was one problem.  The wheel would not move.  Many people came in and tried but no one could get it to move.  People suggested setting up mankind’s first committee to study this and submit a report to the public with recommendations.  However, others resisted it as they had grown up being reminded that they should not reinvent the wheel. However, there was one person, RocknRollus who had an idea.  He noticed how the wheel was shaped like a square which did not seem conducive to movement.  He suggested changing it to a round shape as it would make it easier to roll.  Reinvent the wheel was not an option people wanted to consider it went against popular thought at the time.  But he still did it and the rest is history.  Literally…it is part of history.  The moral of this story is that just because something has been done a certain way does not make it right.  Do not avoid making decisions that fix problems because no one else thought about it.  If it ain’t broke, then break the stupid thing and build it up again.
  6. Reply with deniability.  This is something I have noticed as a practice in certain parts of the world.  People are extremely scared of responding to requests in writing unless it is just a standard refusal based on a made up rule.  I have had email recipients reply to me over the phone or in person just so that they may not have to go on record as saying something which is probably false or they have issues with making a commitment in writing.  If you refuse to acknowledge a mistake in writing, you should know that it just makes you a jerk.  And if you make a commitment and pull out (written or oral), you get raised to the level of a lying jerk.  If you cannot have the guts to back your beliefs then the battle is already lost.  Is that what you really want?  So don’t forget.  And email me back what you think about this point.

I once mentioned that I once heard someone say that they had been told by a neighbor whose friend said that it is good to leave people with 3 ideas since a person cannot recall more than 3 things – explains why I go grocery shopping every other day.  In the interest of fairness, and with sad doubts over your ability to count, I have left you with 6 points (yes, that is one more than 5 and one less than 7) and you are free to choose the 3 that resonate with you.

“This is gospel for the fallen ones. Locked away in permanent slumber. Assembling their philosophies from pieces of broken memories.” – J. Sinclair, B.Urie, D.Weekes

Reflection Accomplished-ly,

Soul Stricken

“Daddy’s going to buy you a dream to cling to.  Mama’s going to love you just as much as she can. And she can.” P.Young

I first saw you when I was a child
My life was great.  My troubles were mild
You stood there staring at me
You were red and I was still very green
Our lives separate but our eyes did meet
I was in a cool place while you melted in the heat
You wondered why I was here and you were there
Your life, full of troubles, while I didn’t have a care
Our souls were shared but we did not know it then
This chance encounter was according to a plan
But I drove on by while you begged in the sun
You asked why I had all the luxuries and you had none.

I met your soul again many years later
My life, still the same and yours was no better
You had to toil and sweat to feed yourself, to survive
While I rolled in it and all the pleasures simply arrived
You asked again what was your fault, what mistake did you make
That I had so much and you had only a smile to fake
This is the strange way we lead our lives
One cruises while the other crawls on knives
As I looked into your eyes, I saw a part of my soul
Despite having it all, my life was just not whole
But I tried to forget you as I returned to my world
You had no laughter. Troubles around you did they twirl.

Many years have gone by but your face I struggled to forget
I have many reasons to smile yet I am only ruled by regret
Of life’s injustices and my inability to change your fate
Your misery haunts me. I can understand your hate
I saw you yesterday burning in the sun
While I was chilling. Life was always meant to be fun
Your eyes begged me to stop. To talk to you. To console
But I am more than you. I am richer. Helping you is not my role
Yours is a life of hunger. It is what you decided to choose
I tell myself as I watch you get abused
I move on, not even sparing you a thought
For doing so, my mind would be distraught.

And when I am older and resting in my comfortable abode
I will think of you and how you’re no longer by the road
For while I built my castle, my treasure
You died working. You only knew a life absent pleasure
And just as I was getting used to our soul connection
I fear I may have to give answers at the resurrection
Why I ignored your silent cries. Your helpless pleas
I only cared for myself and never saw you on your knees
But I will fail to explain my actions. My lack of care
For my stranger friend who had a load he could not bear
And one day as they put me into the ground
I will meet you again and in my sins I will drown
Forgive me for I was too blind to see
That the man by the road was not a stranger, it was just another me.

This is an ode to the many, less fortunate souls we choose to ignore while we are tied up in our world of fun and frolic. In our race to get ahead, we often forget to look in the rear view mirror to see all the ones we leave behind who are too weak to run.  It is not easy doing so for everything around us reminds us how much better off we could be if we joined the race…if we left people behind cause that means we are winning as we hoard for pleasure.

“This world is a nightmare and I do not know how to wake up!”