Category Archives: Work and Life

My thoughts on corporate life, work-life balance or the lack thereof and so on.

A Humbling Experience?

I keep hearing this phrase in all those acceptance speeches and interviews. When somebody achieves something remarkable that they can truly and rightfully be proud of, they invariably say it is a humbling experience. What in the world does it really mean? Do they feel more humble than before because they achieved something splendid? Do they feel as though they got something that they didn’t quite deserve? Is it a promise that they will not be proud or arrogant? Or is it just something magnanimous to say now that people are finally listening to them?

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Anti-Racism Video

I found this short video on Facebook.

Recently, I was confronted with islamophobia from unexpected quarters. The person expressing the anti-muslim sentiments expected me to share the same feelings. I did not, but I didn’t speak up mainly because I didn’t want to offend. I should not have, and I thought I would share the video with a wider audience in an attempt to make amends.

I was at the receiving end of a similar incident some twenty years ago in Marseille. I was walking to the ATM on Avenue de Mazargues one afternoon, when a little girl, probably about five or six years old, tugged on my sleeve and told me that she was lost and was looking for her “maman.” I could barely speak French at that time, certainly not in a manner a child could understand; “Parlez-vous anglais?” wasn’t going to cut it. I couldn’t just walk away from the lost child either.

So there I was, holding the child’s hand and desperately looking around for help, almost panicking, when her mom appeared out of nowhere, snatched her, gave me dirty look and walked away without a word to me, and I suspect scolding the little girl. I was more relieved than offended at that time. I guess even now, I cannot think of a better way out of that situation. Well, a “merci, monsieur” would have been nice, but who cares?

Photo by Tim Pierce cc

How to Start an Internet Business

Starting a business online is easier than you think. Succeeding in one is another story, of course. First of all, you need a product or service, which had better be something that people want. In my experience, what people want most is to make money. Anything that helps them make money is a good product. Second, you need a way of collecting money and delivering the product or providing the service in return for payment. Third, you need to get visibility.

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Lee Kuan Yew

My father once told me an anecdote about SM Lee Kuan Yew. My father had no direct connection with Singapore, but had a friend of his working as a newspaper reporter here in the seventies. This friend, Majeed, was a small-time reporter, not at all famous in any way. He happened to be at a press conference given by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew once. Majeed asked Mr. Lee a question, who at that moment got distracted by some other reporter asking something else. Mr. Lee held up his hand to Majeed and said, “I will be with you in a minute, Majeed” and proceeded to field the other question. This might have seemed like an unremarkable exchange to anybody, but to Majeed, it was an astonishing revelation.

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How Greece Got Quantitatively Eased

One thing we need to understand about bailouts is this – those who get bailed out don’t really get any money. So it was for Greece; she did’t get any either. Where did the money go? To the rightful owners of all the money, of course, the bankers. I used to work for a bank, so I know a little bit about it, although my station in the pecking order was way below the billion dollar bailout levels.

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Philanthropy of Mother Teresa and Other Spiritual Leaders

Philanthropy comes in two flavors. One is where you make a lot of money doing whatever it is that you do, and then spend a large part of it in directly helping other people. Bill Gates is a philanthropist of this kind. The second kind is where you collect money from a large number of people and put it to good use. Organizational charities do philanthropy of this kind. So do spiritual leaders, like the god men of India.

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Driving in India

I have had the pleasure of driving in many parts of the world. Being fairly observant and having a tendency to theorize about everything, I have come to form a general theory about driving habits as well.

You see, each place has a set of driving norms, a grammar or a dialect of driving, if you will. In Marseille, France, for instance, if you switch on your turn signal on a multilane street, people will immediately let you in. It’s not because they are polite and considerate drivers (quite the contrary, in fact), but a turn signal indicates the drivers’ intention to change lanes, not a request to let them. They are not seeking permission; they are merely letting you know. You’d better let them in unless you want a collision. In Geneva (Switzerland), on the other hand, the turn signal is really a request, which is usually denied.

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Indian Politics – the Last Resort

In India, they say politics is the last resort of a scoundrel. And it does seem to hold true there; Indian politicians are, by and large, corrupt crooks and bullies.

A quick Google research shows that it was Dr. Samuel Johnson who said, “Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel.” I guess our colonial rulers modified to suit the Indian condition. In any case, Indians staying out of politics suited the colonial rulers just fine. What is sad is that the Indian politics still attracts mostly scoundrels even after almost seventy years of independence.

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