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?
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.
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.
In Hinduism, there is a fundamental trinity of gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are to be understood as birth, existence and death. They are the gods of creation, well-being and destruction, as our grandmothers told us.
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.
I saw these pictures on Facebook recently. A lot of people like them. I personally don’t, but Facebook doesn’t have a dislike button, so I couldn’t do anything about it. Besides, many of those who like the pictures are my friends, and I’m treading carefully here.
I like programming, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit. As a fifty-year old, programming is not what I am supposed to be interested in. I should be managing large teams of people and making insane amount of money. That’s the way we think in today’s hyper-competitive and overachievement-oriented world, where we are all in a race to nowhere. But, what can I say, I do like programming. In particular, I like web programming, which is even worse. I mean, any teenager with a diploma from any of those fly-by-night schools can do web site development and such. I would like to think that I do it with a difference, but who am I to judge?
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.
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.