Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cafeteria Hilaria

I rush off the Cafeteria as usual so I can avoid all the queues at the counters and crowds at the table and be quickly done with my share of carbohydrates and vegetables. 

I find five men standing near the cash counter in a haphazard manner. Not knowing whether it is meant to be a queue or one person paying for the remaining four people (who probably want to give him moral support while he pays for everyone), I patiently wait at the periphery of the, err, unusually shaped human formation. 

Finally, after a lot of careful mental calculations by the cashier and the customer(s), they collect their coupons and make their way to the Food counter and are joined by two other people who just emerge from somewhere.

I get my coupon and join the Food queue. It seems like these men are new to the Cafeteria going by their somewhat lost expressions and funny behavior in the queue. It takes quite a while for them to get their plates filled and I continue to wait while I attempt to clean my plate which looks like it is nearing the end of its association with mortals. 

Meanwhile, to my utter joy, I discover that three of the men have come out of the queue with their plates filled. But they realize that they have forgotten the spoons and need to disrupt the queue in order to get them.
They approach the spoons with outstretched hands and I take a step backward, impulsively, to give them enough space (the spoons are on my right). As I take a step backward, I discover that I have stepped on something soft. The lady who was standing behind me did not apparently feel the need to stand more than a few inches away. Unable to bear the pain, she gestures with her hands and hits me in the process. I apologize, the last man who came to pick up the spoon apologizes and the lady pretends to be fine. 

Google Images

I move on to get some food whilst shaking my stupid head and notice that the last person in front of me is almost done. Suddenly he starts gesturing wildly with his hands, in my direction - I am saved only by a narrow distance. He has apparently paid for another new entrant and wants him to come over to the Food counter. This new bloke who enters the scene comes rushing and gets in between me and the guy at the front and stretches out in various directions to get a plate and a bowl and starts demanding that he be served some food. I am surprised that he never thought about all of us already waiting in the queue but I decide it is OK as he might get lost in the Cafeteria otherwise. 

While I wait again for my turn, this guy gets his rice and then realizes he does not have a spoon. He quickly looks around, sees my plate and spoons next to his and picks up one of my spoons. I stare at him open-mouthed and then loudly declare "That's my spoon!". He hesitantly puts it back while avoiding looking at me. After a few seconds, I start laughing and feel embarrassed at the same time. I continue laughing for a while and then realize I need to say something to make the guy feel better. "Sorry, I did not mean to scare you, but I was a bit shocked". To which he says "I am new to this place...." 

I laugh all the way to the table, all the way through lunch and all the way back to my desk. Here I am now, ready to face the rest of the day. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Individual Destiny

The world is full of wonder. There are endless opportunities. There is a lot more we can do if only we don't focus so much on financial safety (or is it mostly greed?) all the time. Parents & teachers must try hard not to narrow their child's vision and lead him/her to where *they* think the treasure is. There's so much yet to be discovered. There's so much yet to be done. There are so many new and unexplored ideas and paths. 

Why create an unnecessarily competitive world that focuses on what everybody else wants to focus on, loses track of true humanity, chases something blindly and knows not what meaning there is to life? Why can't we each choose our own niche areas and complement and collaborate with each other to build a rich, meaningful, creative, cooperative, happy and sustainable world? 

Enough of the 'mass production' of individuals who think and work alike and chase the same things without believing in it. We need to preserve the uniqueness in each of us and celebrate that for life. We need to seek what fits us as individuals and learn to ignore many of the things that the world, for some strange reason, thinks is essential to lead a good life. 

Is the urban man who eats exotic and exquisite food once a week and commutes in an expensive car necessarily happier than the rural man who eats a simple meal of rice and vegetable all through the year and spends time relaxing in the natural breeze from the magnificent trees he has planted? Aren't they both happy as long as they leverage on their skills and ideas, identify and pursue a cause and vision that is important and meaningful to them and continuously expand their capacity to think, learn and act?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Perspective, Perception, Reality

Must-watch video. Good businesses and ideas find the sweet spot between technology, economics and psychology. 

Extract: I think it's because there's an imbalance, an asymmetry, in the way we treat creative, emotionally-driven psychological ideas versus the way we treat rational, numerical, spreadsheet-driven ideas. If you're a creative person, I think quite rightly, you have to share all your ideas for approval with people much more rational than you. You have to go in and you have to have a cost-benefit analysis, a feasibility study, an ROI study and so forth. And I think that's probably right. But this does not apply the other way around. People who have an existing framework, an economic framework, an engineering framework, feel that actually logic is its own answer. What they don't say is, "Well the numbers all seem to add up, but before I present this idea, I'll go and show it to some really crazy people to see if they can come up with something better." And so we, artificially I think, prioritize what I'd call mechanistic ideas over psychological ideas.

Extract: One of the great mistakes, I think, of economics is it fails to understand that what something is, whether it's retirement, unemployment, cost, is a function, not only of its amount, but also its meaning.

Extract: Now von Mises said that modern economists make exactly the same mistake with regard to advertising and marketing. He says, if you run a restaurant, there is no healthy distinction to be made between the value you create by cooking the food and the value you create by sweeping the floor. One of them creates, perhaps, the primary product -- the thing we think we're paying for -- the other one creates a context within which we can enjoy and appreciate that product. And the idea that one of them should actually have priority over the other is fundamentally wrong.

Yet another year passes by

*Click* When it is so easy to lose sense of your own direction because of constant external influences (people who are not necessarily aware of or focused on what's important for you), it is critical to spend time on soul searching. It is critical to discover what you really are inspired by and believe in and remind yourself to do that constantly. One of the worst regrets to have is the inability to remain true to the self. At the same time, you need to ensure your mind is not so lost that it does not realize its own flaws and quirks. *Click*