November 27, 2008

HP Reveals All

HP certainly revealed a lot of things (but not their pricing) at yesterday’s press conference to launch their new range of business notebooks and desktops for Sri Lanka. The press conference was held at the Trans Asia and surprisingly enough for Sri Lanka, it started only about 15 minutes late 🙂

The first thing to be revealed was of course, the new notebooks. In the process, HP also revealed their lack of taste, decorum, or any indication that they knew which country they were in. Why? Because they had models in skimpy outfits strutting around showing off the notebooks as if they were having some sort of catwalk fashion show. Sure, HP calls itself a "green" company and sells a lot of PCs, but they certainly showed the fact that they are not PC at all and that they are very green when it comes to doing tasteful marketing 😀

The ladies doing the modeling, no offence to them, were terribly over-made-up and under-clothed. They had this horrible blue eye-shadow which made them look like zombies and these skimpy skirts which would hike up when they got on the stage and if you were half a foot shorter than me, you probably could see their underwear as they got on stage. Yes, it was that short! And the showcasing of the notebooks? They simply walked around in front of the seated audience, giving them a glimpse of the notebook, which was totally useless because you didn’t get any of the details. But then again, this was all for effect and not really to let the participants get any useful info, right? And not once did any of the models smile, look pleasant or in any other way try to make the audience feel like taking a second look at the computers.

But then again, most of the guys there were probably busy looking a little bit below the computers, which were at eye level, to notice if the models were smiling or if any of the computers were even powered on :p

Given that this was a gathering of journalistic types and the abundance of pocket-feminists and armchair-nationalists who normally rise up to talk about "objectification of women" and "2500 years of cultural history", I was surprised that nobody pointed out the fact that apart from being utterly tasteless and tacky, this was also something which went against the culture of Sri Lanka and was degrading towards women. I’ve never understood why you needed a scantily clad woman to sell a car or a computer – you’re not buying the woman, you’re buying the item. Do we really need this kind of senseless, appealing-to-the-gonads type of advertising here in Sri Lanka as well? (Or did I lose the one single reader I have at "scantily clad"? :p)

Of course, that was just the beginning of things. HP talked up their products but gave no concrete answers to questions about how much these new products would sell for or even how much their current products sell for. They also kept harping on the fact that they weren’t a price-based organization because their products came with value-additions that others didn’t have. When asked what these value-additions were though, they were again rather vague – talking about doorstep service to customers. But then they went on to say that they don’t sell any HP products directly but do so through their network of authorized dealers and that all value-additions are provided by the dealers. So how do they even know that this mythical doorstep service exists? I’ve certainly never heard of it.

As the title says, HP certainly revealed a lot of things at this press conference, but not many of the things revealed were complimentary to the organization. The products showcased were good but given the lack of pricing information and HP’s insistence that they are not price-based because in the total cost of ownership, the price of the machine is a mere fraction, I certainly wouldn’t be dreaming HP anytime soon 🙂

November 3, 2008

Sri Lanka vs. Qatar – the Differences and the Tragedy

I love my country. In fact, I came back to Sri Lanka at a time when I had the opportunity to stay permanently in the US because I loved my country (and my family, of course :p). And since coming back, I have not taken up several opportunities to go elsewhere again because I enjoy being in Sri Lanka and have had hopes for its future. But no more 🙁

I’ve always said that the only thing wrong about Sri Lanka is it’s politicians. Doesn’t matter which party they are from, what doctrine they profess to espouse, the only thing they really are here for is their own enrichment at the expense of the nation and its citizens. Sure, we had politicians who left power with only the same amount they had in their bank balance that they had when they came to power. But all of them are dead now. What we now have are the rapacious bandits who want to make as much money as they are in power and damn the country and the people who elected them!

In fact, the country has been impoverished so much by these robbers that they’ve turned to finding new ways to fatten their own coffers. The latest such attempt is detailed in this story. Now I must say that I don’t know if what is mentioned in the story is true – watching the news or reading the newspapers over here just makes me so mad that I’ve stopped doing that. However, the story is in line with all the other stuff which has gone before. They will enact some sort of draconian law which gives the media ministry (and hence, the minister) the power to decide who can broadcast in the country. Then he will levy fat fees to "facilitate" the process for anybody who approaches him. In the mean time, any international corporation interested in doing any media work in the country will (if they have the least bit of integrity) will run far away from such corruption. Typical, just typical.

On the other hand, take Qatar. I had been aware of Qatar only peripherally for most of my life. I knew that it was one of the Middle Eastern countries where a lot of Sri Lankans went to work but that was about it. I didn’t know anything about the nation’s history or politics or government. Till recently that is ..

I came to learn about Qatar, quite by accident, on reading the above Wikipedia article that I’ve linked to. What I learnt was that in Qatar, the current Emir came to power after a bloodless coup where he deposed his father, the previous Emir. He didn’t do it because he wanted the wealth or the power. He did it because he wanted to see his country flourish and he knew that he could do the job.

Apparently, the previous Emir was not interested in the country. He was content to amass wealth, enjoy the privileges of royalty, and make frequent foreign trips (much like our Sri Lankan politicians, in fact). The current Emir took on the reigns of the country after consulting all the members of his family (who constituted the powers that be) and since then, has done away with the pomp and ceremony of a royal court and instituted a government that works like a business – a government that gets things done.

In fact, under the new Emir, enormous changes have taken place in the country. I believe Qatar is the only Middle Eastern country where women can vote. But that’s not all, they’ve done a lot of work in creating a nation that its citizens can be proud of and where everybody benefits, not just the ruling class. In fact, it’s said that the Emir will personally call up a minister if he sees something wrong while travelling through the city. Contrast that with here where the rulers don’t want to see anything while they are travelling through the city and are only worried about whether somebody will attack them.

When I read about Qatar, all that was wrong about Sri Lanka and the political blight slowly draining the lifeblood out of the nation was brought home to me all the more clearly. No, I’m not a revolutionary calling for the blood of the politicians :p In fact, I don’t see a solution for Sri Lanka because it isn’t one political party – it’s all of them and the people keep electing one party or the other in the hope that things will improve. But will they? I’m not so sure …

October 28, 2008

The Multiple-life Syndrome and Other Stories

I’ve been on the Internet a long time and all this time, I’ve never (except during the early stages and even then only sporadically) used a handle, pseudonym, nickname or what have you. I’ve always been Fahim and it’s been easier to do things that way. I didn’t really want to have a whole second life on the Internet – I just considered the Net an extension of my existing life.

So it always amazes me when I hear stories about people who create a completely fictional life online just for their own jollies. Or in some cases, to make profit or to harass people. It gets even weirder when people create multiple lives for themselves online. I read about a couple of instances which truly boggled my mind yesterday and so I just had to comment on them 🙂

I came across the name Cassandra Clare because Laurie was reading this long thread which had something about her and a plagiarism brouhaha (more about that later …). So I became curious and began reading about Cassandra Clare (or Claire, as she apparently also spells here name).

Basically, she had first shot to fame with a parody of The Lord of the Rings called The Very Secret Diary, written in the vein of Bridget Jones’ Diary. (There’s something interesting there too – according to some, she stopped writing The Very Secrete Diary herself but was incensed at others continuing her work. That sounded very strange to me but I guess I’ll have to get back to that later in my discussion about plagiarism …) Anyway, Cassandra had then moved on to Harry Potter fandom and wrote quite a bit of fan fiction set in the Harry Potter universe and this apparently made her even more famous. So famous, that she became a BNF (Big Name Fan) and apparently everybody wanted to be her friend.

And it was at this point that we have the second player in the drama, Msscribe, makes her entrance. Apparently Msscribe wanted so much to be a friend of Cassandra, that she created other personas (sometimes known as "sock puppets" on the web :p) to talk up Msscribe and to link her to Cassandra (and her circle of friends) at any and every opportunity.

The complete story is so bizarre that I don’t think I can do justice to it in a brief fashion. But suffice it to say that she had not one or two, but at least half a dozen (probably more than a dozen according to the truly wacky story that unfolds if you do some research) different identities either supporting her or attacking her. And all this to gain the friendship (and the reflected status) of somebody who was supposed to be a BNF.

Of course, some of the reading (and summarizing) makes it seem so surreal because some of these created personalities change age/profession/location at various places. Guess when you’re actually going through all of this over a long period of time, it’s really hard to keep track of who does what. But still, when you see that somebody who is originally Msscribe’s new-found fan goes from being a 31-year old mother to an 18-year old student to being Msscribe’s live-in nanny, you know that you’re not in Kansas anymore 🙂

According to all the stuff online, Msscribe was finally shown to be a puppet-master extraordinaire and she also seems to have made some really bad choices in picking real enemies to attack (not just made up ones who were also her) and so became unpopular. Interestingly enough, it also appears that Cassandra herself provided some information which confirmed that Msscribe was the same person as some of her puppet personalities. And so ended the saga of Msscribe.

But back to Cassandra. It turns out that she had copied portions from a published author’s novel and used it in her fan fiction after changing just the names. Her excuse? She had written the paragraph(s) in question down in her writers’ notebook and came back to it months later and didn’t remember that it had been written by another author and thought that she’d done those. So the names in there was changed by the tooth fairy? Or did the Easter bunny have something to do with it?

The truly amazing thing here is that fan fiction is supposed to be a labour of love. Most writers would say that there is no money in fan fiction. But Cassandra had managed to make thousands of dollar (according to some accounts over ten thousand dollars) by writing fan fiction.

How? By preying on the generosity (and gullibility) of her readers. In this case, she played pretty much the same game as Msscribe, but without the sock puppets. She (or rather her friend) announced that Cassandra and her room-mate had had their computers stolen when their apartment was burgled. So this friend started a fund drive among the Cassandra Clare fans, purportedly to buy a new computer so that Cassandra could keep writing her fan fiction.

But once the amount collected went over what was needed to buy the stolen computers, other things got added to the list of stolen stuff and the fund drive continued on. And this is not counting the money that Cassandra Clare was making off of various CafePress stores that she’d created to sell items from her fan-fiction, which was itself based on copyrighted material belonging to someone else.

The biggest surprise of all? After doing all of this, Cassandra Clare has gotten a book deal with a well-known publisher and is now a published author! Surprising? In this day and age, I wouldn’t call it surprising. In fact, if I was a cynical person by nature, I’d say that she got the book deal because of her infamy rather than in spite of it. The publisher probably figured that she was well-known enough that she would sell whatever she wrote – I just hope they check the stuff before it’s published to make sure that she hasn’t accidentally copied something on to her new draft that was written by somebody else …

The other thing that struck me while reading the whole Casandra Clare affair was the whole copyright thing. Cassandra had apparently been in the habit of quoting things from well-known TV shows and movies in her works (in addition to taking stuff from other authors). Now it appears to be often said that she should have attributed all of these sources in her material or that she was in copyright violation and I’m not so certain about that. But that’s probably another entry for tomorrow …

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Posted by Fahim at 5:52 am  |  1 Comment

October 11, 2008

Customer Service – Sri Lankan Style

Sri Lanka, unfortunately, hasn’t yet caught up to the concept of customer service. Most businesses in Sri Lanka operate under something along the lines of "this is my/our business. You can purchase our service from us if you want and if you don’t go somewhere else. We don’t really care!" The customer certainly is not king over here 😀

Of course, things have started to change and in my opinion (which is somewhat limited), one of the best such examples is Sri Lanka Telecom. This is rather surprising given their government organization antecedents (it used to be a government operated body originally) and the fact that some people in Colombo had to wait years to get a telephone connection as short a time as about 10 years ago 🙂

On the other hand, there are organizations such as Dialog which proudly proclaims that their customer service is second to none and that they have won awards for customer service. But when you actually try to get anything done, you find that their customer service reps are untrained, clueless, and are usually afraid to go ahead and make a decision because: a) they are afraid to do so b) they have their boss looking over their shoulder and will censure them if they did actually take initiative.

I have had numerous dealings with Dialog and came away with each and every one of them vaguely unsatisfied. The best I got out of any such encounter was that they would "forward my feedback to management". However, I am not even sure that this feedback was actually sent anywhere (except to the wastepaper bin) because of something else that happened to me recently.

I finally got tired of the inefficiency and money grabbing practices of Dialog that I decided to disconnect my mobile connection with them. I’d had the connection for about six years and had not switched till then because everybody I knew had that mobile number. But enough was enough and I finally decided to switch. When I went to the Dialog arcade to get my connection terminated, the CSR (Customer Support Representative) who was assisting me asked me why I wanted to disconnect. I said, "I am not satisfied with your customer service" and I could see that he was put out by his expression 🙂

Before he could mark that on the disconnection form though (and there was a specific box was "Poor customer service" or something equivalent), he got called in by his boss who was sitting in a cubicle behind him. He is in there for a bit and then comes back out and I notice that the form does not have the "Poor customer service" box checked but instead says that I don’t use the connection anymore. I decided not to make a fuss because I knew that the CSR was simply following the orders of his boss.

Now I don’t know if this is standard Dialog policy or if the managers get reprimanded somehow if a customer disconnects due to dissatisfaction with the service they receive. If the latter is the case, I can understand why they don’t want to put that down. On the other hand, this particular manager might have been acting on his own believing that he was somehow acting in the best interests of the company by not sending negative comments on to the higher management.

Whatever the case maybe, I think that is a very shortsighted policy. If you don’t pass on what is wrong, it will never get rectified and you will continue to live on in your false glow of pride about everything being hunky dory. Of course, given that nobody in Dialog management reads my blog, I don’t think they’ll know about this in any case, or take any action to rectify such shortcomings. But I can at least write about this, especially since something else came up yesterday which made me want to say this 🙂 But this other "something else" will have to wait for another day since this entry is already way too long ….

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Posted by Fahim at 9:12 am  |  No Comments

March 27, 2008

Sri Lankan Spam

As if all those spam mails about penis enlargement; herbal supplements; deposed dictators, their wives, grandchildren, personal secretaries and grandmothers wanting to give you millions of dollars; and free software downloads weren’t enough, the spamming has started in my own backyard. And that somehow seems to be worse than all those spammy mails from people on the other side of the world 🙂

What’s worse is that the Sri Lankan spammers are so inept that they openly copy the e-mail addresses of all the people they spam. This way, not only do I get spammed, I also know who else got spammed along with me. Yeah, maybe you’ll say "misery loves company" and move on :p But think a moment, if my e-mail address and all those other e-mail addresses are visible to all those who got spammed, what’s to prevent another enterprising person to copy those addresses and spam us all over again? Nothing.

Yeah. Neverending Sri Lankan spam because some idiot, who might be living next door, gathered up all the addresses of people s/he figured out were Sri Lankans. The though of it somehow makes my blood boil even worse than the foreign spam!

So I decided to do something about it – I spammed them all back 😀 OK, that’s not quite right. I wrote to all of those people (taking care not to reveal the addresses again, of course) and told them what the situation was. That our e-mail addresses were exposed to every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jinadasa, Mohideen, or whoever to copy and spam again. I asked that everybody who was spammed contact the spammer and ask him not to spam us again and also wrote to the spammer and asked him to let me know if he got the list from somebody else so that that person can be notified that I really don’t want anymore unsolicited e-mail.

Will anything come out of it? I have no idea. Knowing how things work in Sri Lanka, I might even have retaliation directed at me 🙂 Ah well, you’ve gotta take a stand sometimes, right?

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Posted by Fahim at 9:25 am  |  1 Comment

January 13, 2008

Drooling Male Syndrome

I’ve been on this free language learning site called Livemocha for a couple of days now. It’s pretty interesting (and effective) as a language learning tool but that’s not what this post is about :p Laurie signed up yesterday because I’ve been sitting next to her practicing my Spanish phrases and she wanted to regain some mastery of French. She signs up with her personal details and uploads a picture of herself and not two minute pass but wham! She gets a request for chat. She doesn’t realize that the guy wants to voice chat till she’s halfway into the request but rejects it at that point. A minute later, another and then another and another …

So what makes guys act like drooling dogs when they see a female online? It doesn’t matter whether she’s really a woman or not, as long as the online persona has the "appearance" of being female, they just keep coming – and no, no pun was intended there :p Now I’ve been on Livemocha for much longer than Laurie but do I get any chat requests, friend requests or anything of the sort? Nope! Of course, it might be that they see my profile and the strange, unfamiliar name and think that I’ll probably go "I keel you!" (OK, sorry about that one but I saw this guy on TV about a month ago with a skeletal dummy with an Arabic accent who said that all the time and I find that hilarious for some reason :p) if they tried to befriend me. Or maybe it’s the fact that I have a photograph which shows me to be male.

Speaking of photographs, Laurie changed hers to a fairly innocuous one and even changed her gender to male on Livemocha but the requests still kept coming. I don’t know if the site was doing some caching of images or these guys were so desperate that they only looked at the profile name to decide if the person was male or female. Finally, once she changed her profile name to something which was gender-neutral, the requests stopped.

So I ask again, what makes human males act like some sort of quadruped in heat each time they are online and see somebody who might possibly be of the female persuasion? Or are most males like that in real-life as well but just control themselves just a tad bit better because it’s "real life"? I wonder …

Oh yeah, Laurie has a post about this on this on her blog as well 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 12:47 pm  |  No Comments

May 31, 2006

Passing it forward

Kelly had an interesting entry over at her blog from a couple of days back and she tagged me as part of Random Acts of Kindness. The idea is that you do one (or more) random acts of kindness, blog about it and then tag someone else so that they could do the same so that the acts of kindess spread out in an ever-widening circle of goodness 🙂

So Kelly tagged me and I was faced with an interesting dilemma – what was the random act of kindness I was going to perform and for whom? See, the problem is this – I’m a hermit. When John Donne said "No man is an island", he hadn’t met me :p Laurie and I are like twin islands which are only connected to each other and have not much contact with anybody else. Sure, we just moved into my parents’ place but my parents have gone on a pilgrimage and so aren’t here either 🙂 So I finally decided to do several mini-random acts of kindness and hope that is enough :p

What’d I do? Well, first, I stopped watching the special features for "Neal ‘N’ Nikki" (that Laurie wasn’t interested in) and put "Scrubs" on so that Laurie could watch it with me 🙂 Then, I began re-arranging some of my books which were lying all over the place. See, as I mentioned before, we had moved to my parents’ place last week and our stuff is lying all over the place. My Mom loves everything to be neat and orderly and hates it when things are piled up all over the place. I’d been putting off organizing the books because there are a lot of them and there just isn’t enough room to put all of them away neatly. I decided to get started on the job even if I couldn’t finish it last night 🙂

Then today, I started my Mom’s car in the morning because she’s gone for a while and her car has a problem with not starting after a few days if it is not regularly started up and left running for a bit because the battery runs down. I also wrote to some of the people over at Absolute Write and offered to help with setting up a temporary forum (if they are of a mind to do so) till they can either get their databases recovered or decide to go ahead with a brand new forum.

So now I’m going to tag a few people and ask them to do some random act of kindness and blog about it as well. You can do it too, even if I haven’t asked you to :p So go on, do something nice for somebody and then please do come back and comment here as well 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:17 am  |  1 Comment

April 27, 2006

Purchase pains

We are currently trying to get a new notebook computer for me since my current one is showing signs of age and we don’t want it to suddenly go on strike and leave me without a machine. Since this is Sri Lanka, it is not as simple as walking into the computer store, picking the model you want, paying for it and walking out. Oh, no :p

Here, most of the display models are low-end machines 🙂 If you want a high-end machine, you have to pick the model you want, talk to the store, let them know what you want, wait for them to get the pricing from Singapore or somewhere, place the order and then wait a week or two (or three) till the computer actually arrives. Yes, a lot of work to get a new machine :p All this extra waiting is compounded by the fact that my fellow Sri Lankans seem to have no grasp of delivery dates or customer service. As somebody (who is himself a Sri Lankan) put it, when they say tomorrow, you have got to ask them "which tomorrow"? For most of them, tomorrow is simply a an indefinite day in the future which is "not today" 🙂

Well, we picked the model I wanted and we placed the order last Monday (the 17th) and that brought up the another little Sri Lankan business practice – the advance :p You have to pay an advance on an order (it might be as little as a few hundred – or thousand – rupees or it might be half the value of the order) as a sign of good faith. It is also insurance against the customer saying that they don’t want the ordered item after they’ve got it down from Singapore or wherever 🙂 So, these guys wanted an advance but we couldn’t get there immediately since I had work. I said that I’d come by Saturday and pay the advance but for them to go ahead with the order since I wanted the computer fast. They said OK and that I’d have the notebook by Monday (the 24th).

We go there on Saturday (the 22nd) to give them the advance and I get the distinct feeling that while the order has indeed been placed, that I won’t get the computer by Monday. So I tell the guy that if I don’t get the computer by Monday, I’m going to cancel the order. He calls his boss and the boss says that I’ll get the computer by Wednesday "for sure".

Wednesday was yesterday. I call the salesman in the morning and he says that he can’t reach his boss. To give him 10 minutes and he’ll call back. Half an hour goes, nothing from him. I call him back and he says his boss still hasn’t called back. I give him an hour. I call back after an hour and a half. He says, still nothing from his boss and that he’ll call me back in 10 minutes. 10 minutes goes by. Nothing. I call him back and say that if I don’t hear from him by 2:30 (which was about 20 minutes away) that they can cancel the order. I call him at 2:30 and he says he’s got his boss on the other line and a few minutes later says that they’ll have the computer by 6:00pm for sure. I say "OK but if it doesn’t arrive today, I’m cancelling the order" and hang up.

About an hour or two later, I get another phone call – this time from the boss. He says that he’s very sorry but that he got delayed due to a meeting and couldn’t get all the necessary documents to the clearing agent to clear the computer from customs – could I give him till tomorrow evening to get me the computer? I tell him that I was fine with that but for every day he delays, I’m going to deduct Rs. 500 from the price. He seems to be fine with that and says that he’ll even throw in a USB thumb-drive to make up for the delay. That is where we are now 🙂

For the longest time, Sri Lankan businesses have not had any sense of customer service. I personally believe that this is because in the old days, you had one shop to an area and you had to deal with them or do without. So, the whole attitude of "it’s my shop and you can buy from me at my terms or walk out" was born and it has become so inculcated into society that people are finding it difficult to wean themselves away from that mentality. However, things are changing, albeit a bit slowly, here in Sri Lanka. I am not, overall, displeased with my dealings with the computer vendor so far – they do seem to have managed to get the notebook into the country within 10 days of the order being placed and are trying to make amends for the delay. That is a major improvement for Sri Lanka 🙂 The only thing I have a problem is that I have to keep at them to get them to actually deliver on time :p

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Posted by Fahim at 6:26 am  |  1 Comment

April 22, 2006

The Farooks go to The Agency

Every once in a while, I do come out of my shell and the two of us manage to sneak out somewhere outside the confines of our castle …err … I mean our home :p Yesterday was one such day. Laurie and I were to go out for dinner at a new restaurant, The Agency.

Lest you fall into the misapprehension that I am in the habit of taking my wife out for dinner every once in a while, let me disabuse you immediately – this was a freebie :p Laurie does restaurant reviews for a Sri Lankan travel magazine and tonight was our night to review the cuisine at The Agency. We left home around 7 o’clock and go there just around opening time – we like to eat early 🙂 The place is situated in one of the busier parts of Colombo and usually in Colombo, restaurants tend to be tiny and crowded, even where space isn’t at a premium. This place as huge and it had a huge parking lot as well – an added advantage 🙂 I was really surprised to find such an abundance of space in an area which has so many businesses and offices and whatnot crammed together like a bunch of unruly kids at a lunch counter :p

But I won’t go into too many details since Laurie does have to write a review about this and I don’t want to come out with a long review of my own. Suffice it to say that I was really impressed. The food was fabulous! The decor was quite and unobtrusive. The food was great. The atmosphere was nice and they had a live band playing. Did I mention that the food was brilliant? :p

What was unusual about the food was the presentation. Here in Sri Lanka, people usually tend to just slap the food on the plate and serve it. There is no thought about the presentation. At The Agency, every dish was a work of art 🙂 Everything we ate was arranged to be eye pleasing as well as to be appetizing. Heck, as I told Laurie, the meal was worth it for the bread alone – it was so fresh, so fragrant, so yummy! Yes, I wax poetic :p I guess I could go on at length about the cuisine and how good it was and what a great chef they have but that would again be treading into review territory. So I guess I’ll simply say that if you are ever in Colombo, you’ve got to give The Agency a try 🙂

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Posted by Fahim at 7:31 am  |  No Comments

April 20, 2006

Two Roads

There’s this TV series named "Just Cause" which has a theme song named "Two Trains" which is about somebody faced with two different options but can take only one. Like that, the journey of life seems to be full of branches in the road where you can take the easy road or the hard road.

When I was younger, I used to take the easy road. I would lie, I would steal (or borrow), I would do whatever it took so that life would be easy. As I grew older and began to look at the world around me and to understand things and to really learn about God, I came to realize that this really wasn’t the way to live life. That above all, you had to be true to yourself and deal with others as you would want to be dealt with in turn. I changed myself and began taking the harder road.

And often it turns out, that it indeed is a hard road to travel. You would think that telling the truth and dealing honestly with people is the easy thing to to do. There are no stories to keep straight, there are no lies to remember, there are no people to avoid. But boy, the problem is people. They just don’t want to seem to hear the truth. Or to deal with it. In fact, it looks as if most people are content to just deal in lies (or at least not be totally honest) because it makes life easier.

Today, we reward people for taking the easy road. You get a politician lying about his past, we dismiss it as "Oh, that’s natural in politics" and elect him to office. If they lie about their opponent, we just call it "mud slinging" and move on. If they take a bribe, we just nod sagely and say "This is what politics has come to" but we keep voting for them anyway.

But politics is not the only place this happens. In our own lives (at leave over here), we don’t tell others if something they did bothers us. We keep it bottled up and pretend everything is fine but show our irritation through little actions. The other person doesn’t know what is going on, misunderstands our actions and gets angry at you but they doesn’t say what is bothering them either because there is nothing concrete to point to – it’s all innuendo and suspicions. If you try to burst the bubble of mistrust and hatred by speaking out, you get shushed to silence because nobody wants the status quo disrupted.

How exactly have we arrived at this point in time? When did we decide that it was easier to go with the flow than to stand up for what is right? All of the religions in the world say that lying is wrong and that you should be honest in your dealing with others. But that is probably the commandment that we break the most often. We lie outright, for no reason or just to win an argument or to win a competition or to discredit somebody else or to … you pick the reason. But why do we have to be that way? Why can’t we take the harder road?

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Posted by Fahim at 6:21 am  |  No Comments

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