The Sapient Ape

Life as an employed MBA grad during an economic recovery. DISCLAIMER: Everything written here is fiction.

South Asian Snow Day

This cab driver'll think twice before charging that kinda fare again.

There’s thing called a hartal today. Its kinda like a snow day but instead of traffic accidents due to icing, you get burnt cars due to mob rules. But the two are indistinguishable to me coz the outcome is the same. No work, late to work, or dangerous to go to work.  Snow, mobs — they all make the same noise when they beat on your car.

To those of you outside Bangladesh or totally ignorant, a hartal is a general strike called by a political party to protest something. They force everyone NOT to go to work. I know, right? AWESOME!!! Except it screws with the economy. Like think about it — 3 hartals a year and GDP (or at least productivity) is down by 1% for the year.

It makes you think — given the rampant energy crisis (-2% GDP), the infrastructure/transportation problems (-1% GDP), corruption (-2% GDP), and a whole whole host of other problems (-1% GDP), Bangladesh’s GDP growth rate of 6% could have been at least 10% easily.  Of course I’m no economist, so these numbers are just estimates or figures I’ve read, heard from others, or totally made up, but they make sense — I mean it takes half a day to go from one office to another, and electricity is gone for up to 12 hours a day during the peak season.

But back to the hartal.  This latest hartal was called to protest the fact that the opposition leader got kicked out her house in the army cantonment and then the Supreme Court wouldn’t hear the case again after the High Court heard it bla bla bla.  Yea, you heard right.   Its like a bunch of 5 year olds at recess.  “Well he said nya nya nya.”  “I know you are but what am I?”

A few days ago, my friend from the US facebooks me and is like “Dude, are you alright?  I heard about all the shit going down.”  I was basically like “Huh? Whaaaa?”, at which time, he pointed me to this very well-written article about the politics of hate in Bangladesh (but aren’t all Economist articles well written?).  Sadly, that subject has become so passe, that it didn’t even register as a potential tinderbox or cause of international concern, but just as another day in the life.

I'm not the only one who thinks that the two ladies who rule this country are a) a joke and b) scary

Really quick background on the political situation here.  Its kinda like the US.  Got two main parties — the liberal idiots (Awami League) and the conservative nasties (BNP).  The liberal idiots are in power right now, and enjoy quite a  comfortable margin in terms of the popular vote.  The conservatives kinda screwed themselves by allying with the religious nutsoes, as well as getting embroiled in inter-party rivalries which further weakened them.  I think thats the gist of it — I ain’t no expert nor do I wanna be.  Needless to say, the parties are more similar than different.  One just hates India and the other one hates Pakistan.

The current government’s (liberal idiots) greatest achievement during its current term has been to rename the airport.  It used to be named after the now-dead leader of the conservative party, but now the liberals came up with the genius idea of naming after a religious icon so that the other party couldn’t rename it again when they come to power.  The Awami League’s second greatest achievement this time around is to kick the widow of the dude-the-airport-was-named-after out of her house in the army cantonment.  Incidentally the widow is the leader of the BNP right now.  The Awami League is also led by a woman — Bangladesh’ current prime minister — who’s daddy (the founder the nation) was assassinated by the BNP in the 70s (although that may not be the most neutral version, its generally seen as the truth).

So basically its a case of revenge for my daddy vs. my hubby was the greatest.  This is what happens when you let women lead — all their political agendas boil down to the men in their lives.  Especially in conservative cultures, ‘coz they ain’t getting any, to boot.  It must be at least 30 years since either of these ladies have done the horizontal mambo (I’ll probably get arrested for that comment).

Its like my dad — he’s still trying to hold on to political realities from 40 years ago.  To him, these are the issues that matter.  My sister and I keep telling him — WE DON’T CARE.  He writes these articles about the liberation war in 1971 that no one can relate to except his senile friends — then they get drunk and discuss how contemporary their school of thought is.

And most politicians, unfortunately, think like him — coz they OLD!  Bangladesh is still a young country — we don’t have hundreds of years of a democratic agenda vs. a republican one.  Its all about who’s family did what to who’s family 20 years ago.

But to our generation, its issues like electricity, roads, the environment, and education that really matter.  Get things done so we can live more comfortably — so that we can make more money — so that our kids can have a future (my imaginary kids).  Or else we outta here.  I’m already planning a move to Bangkok — I just don’t see a way out of this never-ending political cycle of bullshit.

What we need is a benevolent dictator.  A leader educated in the West, who can get things done without red-tape and corruption.  A leader like… ME?

Until then — SNOW DAY!

Incidentally, I’m at work on a snow day.  Sucks to be me.

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Filed under: Economy, Politics, , , , ,

The Drug Dealer

The drugs I deal...

Just a sec… let me just dust this blog off…. pssshhhh, psssshhhh, psssshhhh.

There… all fresh, just like new.  Special plice… just fol you!

I come back here after three months and find, scarily, that my hits are still at around 70 a day.  Don’t you people have lives?

So I haven’t written in months — being in a secure job, with a secure non-existent girlfriend, and having no monetary security makes one too content to post one’s angst ridden diatribes on the internet.

Oh wait… I just realized I still have plenty of causes for angst.  On we go then!

So I got this job — I deal drugs to foreigners.  At least that’s what I say to my acquaintances.  In reality, I’m the international business manager at a large pharmaceutical in Bangladesh.  I mean in some ways its very ironic (in so many ways, I won’t even get into ’em all).  Pharma — my dad’s industry, and the industry which I rejected job offers from not too long ago in places like Belgium (but who wants to live there anyway — I actually much prefer Bangladesh, still), from companies like J&J.  But here I am.  Mainly coz of my CEO.  I report directly to him, and he’s pretty awesome.  I’ve never felt like I wanted to be a part of a company, and really work for it and take it as far as it (and I) can go before.  In my previous jobs, I felt like a faceless corporate tool, cogging the machine (and sometimes jamming it up).  Motivation was hard to come by.

Now I’m finally in my element — someone took a chance on me and put me in a leadership position, and I’m up to the challenge (at least I think so — I could get fired tomorrow, but that would be a surprise, from what I see of the quality of manager-level human resources here).  I love it — I love the risks associated with decision making, and I’m not scared to make them.  I’ve always been a risk taker, but usually its been in my private life.  Don’t get me wrong — the risks I took, even in my personal life, were measured ones.  But now I can actually shape long-term strategy by suggesting new (and sometimes risky) courses of action.  I can make things happen — with my CEO’s OK of course — after all, this is still Bangladesh, and every company is a one-man show — although I’d like to think that I make it a 1.25 man show.

That’s me — Mr. 0.25.  But what’s not to love about this job — not only do I report directly to the CEO of a $50 million dollar company, handling $1.2 million worth of business (I hope to increase that to over 2 million this year), but I get to travel and have people underestimate me because of my age and my lack of pharma experience.  I love being underestimated.  Watch that it doesn’t smack you in the ass later.  My dad said an interesting thing the other day.

“Misha you’ll do well here because you’re very easy going.”

“But, baba (dad in Bengali), I also don’t take no shit.”

“And that’s why you succeed — most people here either are too easy going or too demanding.  You are both.”

I walk the fine line of being nice, but being an asshole.  The nice asshole, that’s me.  You’ve all heard me say it before, or read it in between the lines of my blog, or been subject to it in the form of my caustic humor, after which I quickly say “Just kidding, ha ha ha, I didn’t really mean that.”   Even tho I did.  My psychologist friend once said that there’s no such thing as a joke. Fuckin’ shrinks.

...and the drugs I don't.

So yeah — I get a free hand (to some extent), to grow the department and my business as I see fit, and I’m not one to sit around — put me in a position where I can succeed, and I’ll take it as far as I can go.  And drag you all with me, whether you like it or not.  I’m gonna tear shit up and make shit happen.  That’s the American way.

In some ways, this recession was the best thing that could have happened to me — instead of being put into a mid-level managerial position where I would slog out another 3 years before I really made a difference to anyone, I was forced to come back to Bangladesh where the quality of the educated workforce was so low, that I look like a star!  Score!  Its strange — I’m really content to be here for some time — these days, in our fast-paced professional world, its often tough to find an opportunity like that.  The only complaint I have is that there aren’t enough women around here. But maybe that’s a good thing.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the ladies.

Filed under: Career, Personal, traveling, , , , , , ,

The Sickly-Sweet Smell of Success

I was gonna put a picture of rotting flesh with maggots in it to go along with the theme of my title for this post, but the pics I found were too sick even for me, so here's a sunflower.  Use ur imagination.

I was gonna put a picture of rotting flesh with maggots in it to go along with the theme of my title for this post, but the pics I found were too sick even for me, so here's a sunflower. Use ur imagination.

The measure of success is a fickle baking powder.

Only 4 scant weeks ago, I blindly sucked dirt at the bottom of Depression Ocean, not able to go out to family and outer-family functions without feeling like the leper I see every day on the road to Baridhara.  Today I walked in the hero returned from a glorious victory against the infidel hordes.

So what brought about this change in Bangladeshi “high”-society’s perception of me?  I got a job.

And I hate it.  Not the job, that’s pretty awesome.  But when I see those smiles from moms, aunts and great aunts, their giggles as they discuss me, I want to puke.  Not ‘coz I begrudge them their happiness, but it bothers me that my societal success is measured more by what multinational corporation I help to deface the planet than any intention I may have of doing something with my own initiative that may be better in the long run for my psychological well-being.

‘Coz that’s the measure of a man in Bangladesh — can he bring home the bacon?  Does he have those family values (ie., money, risk-averseness, and settling for less than he’s happy with for the sake of “family”).  But then again I guess that’s the measure of a man anywhere.  Oh society, why did u curse me with a penis?  Luckily for me, the alternative’s much worse.  Oh god (he-who-I-may-not-believe-in) thank you for making me a man.

Don’t get me wrong — my job’s great.  I think its a perfect fit for me, and I think I’ll be good at it.  Most of all, I like the peoplez I’m workin’ with, from the top level down.

But when I look at those moms’ and aunts’ beaming smiles I can’t help but wonder whether I preferred it the other way around. Whether I preferred the whispered jabs and darting looks.  I’m more comfortable in the role of the pariah, the underdog, the unwanted one, the undead, than otherwise.  I’m better off hated, thought of as a failure.  For “success”, or more accurately, comfort — begets complacency.  And I’m way too young to let myself get complacent (see “World Domination Plans — TOP SECRET“).

Nowadays, I find myself leaving family dinners even quicker, using my little nephew’s crying as an excuse to leave as early as possible.  Its an excuse that I’ve seen my sister and bro-in-law use more than once, and I’m a quick learner.  Staying a minute longer than dinner cloys the mouth.

But I’ll play their little game.  Let them try and set me up with their supposed “matches”, now that I am a viable candidate for marriage.  And then I’ll love ’em and leave ’em.  OK, I’ll probably just reject ’em before I even meet ’em.

I do have standards, you know.  All these girls are way too smart and educated for me.  Give me the equivalent of a Bangladeshi “dumb blonde”.  With a nice body.  Hopefully she never got past high school (gimmee an OLP — O-level pash (pass), as my sis says).  I’ve seen too many young Bangladeshi couple’s marriages totaled in a messy affair-ridden divorce to want the same for myself.  My relationships are tumultuous enough (not that I’d trade that — its the spice of wife).

Society here is too boring, hypocritical, and small-minded, and Bengali women are too controlling with just a too much of a splash of insanity for most new marriages to last (yes, the men are to blame as well, probably to a greater degree, but being a man myself, I choose to blind myself to their faults for the purposes of this piece).  I would complain about your upper-class bourgeois members of high society not being able to commit to one person for longer than a few years, but I see just as many divorces among the middle class, so I’m forced to admit that its something deeper.  It’s actually quite amazing how many divorced couples I know of.  If we were conservative Arabs we wouldn’t have this problem.

But shit, like I said.  I like mah women like I like my crazies — crazy.

Was this whole piece just one big contradiction?   Yesno.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , , ,

No rage against the Raj.

So I just came back from Kolkata today (Calcutta, to the colonially-inclined racists out there). It was my first time in India in like 25 years or something. Which is kinda weird considering I’m brown… but I was always bored by India — more into asian chicks. Ha ha — just kidding — brown chick renaissance goin’ on right here. Besides, I thought, what could be so damn different between Bangladesh and India? Between East Bengal and West? Between Kolkata and Dhaka? Both hot, stinky hellholes epitomizing human suffering, right? Typhoid, dysentery, malaria (do we got malaria?).

Boy was I wrong. Sure they’re both hot. They’re both stinky. Both cities share similar linguistic roots, and many of the men in both places sport thick virility-tickling mustaches. But that’s about where the similarities end.

Whether it’s the Airtel/Aircel ads that bring to mind Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni telling me to press my internet button, or the fresh and mountainy TATA Himalayan spring water bringing the slight taste of diesel fuel to my mind’s tongue, India (or INDIA!, as it prefers to be known) has seeped into West Bengali culture like arsenic into UNICEF tubewell water in Bangladesh.

Today, Hindi and English are two of the more prevalent languages spoken in Kolkata, a city that used to pride itself on having the “purest” language in all of South Asia (Bengali – as per its similarities to Sanskrit, the now-dead root of most South Asian languages). And no one seems to care about the cultural dilution. Coz everyone’s making bank (except those poor muslims living in those huts on the way to Kolkata airport sorting through filth). Immigrants, whether it be Biharis, Tibetans, or Punjabis, are taking all the shitty jobs that those intellectualized Bengalis think themselves too good for, like street vending, bell-boying and cab driving. Bengalis work 9-5, getting fat on ghee and counting money, as they have for hundreds of years. Except now they do it in multinational banks. And everybody’s happy (cept the muslims of course, but who cares about them).

But only upon walking the streets of this modern, cosmopolitan Kolkata( they have sidewalks and little shops, and people actually walk and talk, unlike in Dhaka), and checking out the cute girls of all races, shapes and sizes (I like the Orissans! Nah jk, I’m equal opportunity fucker) walking on the streets with no male guardian or protective SUV shell, did I get a sense of how great the divide really is between us Bangladeshis and our snooty neighbors who don’t wear deodorant.

On my first day, I got into a discussion with one of my travel companions about how he believed India is actually falling apart from the inside, coz they are all so culturally dissimilar, and how there’s an Maoist uprising in every state now, and how us Bangladeshis are actually lucky coz we’re a cohesive homogenous unit who all think a certain way, and we really don’t treat our minorities as badly. Ummmm… bullshit. My whole life I’ve seen what culturally dissimilar democracies bring to the global table. New York City, London, and Spain, to name a few. Probably the three pinnacles of human civilization in terms of open-mindedness, acceptance of different cultures, and kick-ass art and music. Immigration, emigration — the movement of people to new locations where they are isolated from those who think just like them — fosters social, cultural, and economic development. Sure, it may be a rocky road, but its one that ends in nougaty nutty goodness.

That to me, is the inherent problem that we face as Bangladeshis. There are a shitload of us — 140 million — but most of us worship the same god, speak the same language, eat the same food, and even wipe our asses the same way (although that last part’s changing, hopefully). We drink the same tea, spit on the same corners, squat to piss, like the same bad Chinese food and music that makes us weepy. How can 140 million be wrong? Well even if they aren’t wrong they sure are damn boring.

Shazia's book cover... I tried to snort this line several times to no avail.

Shazia's book cover... I tried to snort it several times.

The above individual also had a few words of wisdom to ad (nah he’s pretty smart and he’s gonna be reading this blog soon, so I gotta ease up on him). “A friend of mine once said Dhaka has all of the bad things about a big city with none of the good.” We have the insane traffic, we have the pollution, we’ve got the crime, and we’ve got the drug problem. But where is the cultural gemification? Where are the centers for cutting edge music and art? The great street food and the open minded people?

They’re in India, right across the border. Tickets start at about $90 bucks round trip on Kingfisher Airlines, and the stewardesses are hot (with their little red miniskirts)!

Now in case anyone thinks I’m hating on my country, no way. Bengalis have a lot of great democratic, open-minded qualities upon which this country was formed (they escape me right now, its been a while). I just don’t want us to forget those on the road to globalization. I’m just another self-loathing liberal who “wants us to be as good as I know we can.”

Lastly, I’d also like to give a shout out to mah gurl Shazia, who just published her first book with Penguin India, and who’s book launch was the reason I flew out to Kolkata. “Like a Diamond in the Sky.” Its about drugs and Bangladesh so you know its good or at least ironically sad. Read it. She’s gots talents, yo.

Filed under: Politics, traveling, , , , , , , , ,

The Road Taken

So I just read an article about how Professor Yunus just met with Hillary Clinton to discuss healthcare.

Huh?  When did Bangladesh ever make the news for non-cyclones, and what’s even more surprising… Bangladesh and “Green” and healthcare?  You would think that those would never be matched up in any article.  So I haven’t read the article yet, just a sec…

Eh, its just some boring shit about Grameen Bank’s new healthcare initiative and how Bangladeshis are going to be flooded out of a country in a hundred years, but who’s planning to live that long, anyway?

I guess about 250 million people will be.  So, either create the right conditions now, or be met by a quarter billion refugees somewhere around 2110.  And there is the crossroad in which Bangladesh, and to a lesser extent, the world, is at.

A "Dalal"

A "Dalal"

Do we start taking the correct measures — environmentally, politically, socially — starting right now, or do we see the eventual destruction of the country (or the world)?   A country that by sheer force of its population combined with said population’s penchant for dalali, is classified as belonging to the “Next Eleven” economies (although we come in on the bottom, granted).  Economies which have the potential to be the next largest in terms of GDP after the BRIC economies in the coming decades.

There is definitely a large economy here.  A potentially huge economy.  An economy which has only been lightly thumped by the global recession.  An economy, which is in many ways, more “free market” than most Western economies, due to the huge amount of business that is done without paperwork or under the table.  Anything goes, as long as it sells.

And that corruption is one of the quickest roads that could lead us to eventual destruction.  But I don’t think it will (it’ll be another road like rising sea-levels).  Today, a new form of corruption has risen:  “Take a cut, a big one… but try to do something good for the country as well.”  [sarcasm]It warms the heart.[/sarcasm]  These days, unlike during the last decade, it seems that initiatives are being taken which have the country’s long-term benefits in mind.

  • Incentivize industries such as agriculture and power, which will continue to be the engines that drive the economy.
  • Attempt to stomp rampant industrial environmental damage.
  • Plan for the growth of the city and country in 20 years.
  • Diversify the economy away from garments to other export-oriented industries (such as ship-building — who would have thought that Bangladesh would ever have built a ship for a European client?).

I find myself quite pleasantly surprised.  Someone up there holding the strings actually knows his policy shit.  Even if only 20% of what they’re planning comes true, its still quite impressive.  The plans all seem like something I would have heard coming out of the Obama administration if they were as cool as they used to be (or if they didn’t have to wade out of a recession in an international shit-storm).  Someone here who’s in charge has the long-term view in mind.  Coz they realize that without that long-term viewpoint we’re gonna be real f##ked real soon.  And we probably will be but at least we’re trying.

But this post isn’t supposed to be a rant on how great Bangladesh is, its supposed to be a rant about how great I am (DUUHHH)!  I managed to move here at the right time for doing what I want to do — starting a socially-responsible business in renewable energy.  I’ve been talkin’ about that ever since business school (just ask Rainer).  Now its up to me to take what’s mine.  The rightful key to the throne of the world.

As to how that’s going (the renewable energy thing, not the world domination thing), lets just say I’m meeting the right people, and happy with my momentum so far.  But I’ve always been a doer rather than a talker (really?), so lets leave it at that for now.

So here’s to Bangladesh… once “international basket case“, today, international manufacturer of baskets (I’m sure we do, in some tin shack, somewhere).

Filed under: Energy, Politics, Uncategorized, , ,

Here’s Johnny!

Wow.

Where to even begin?  I’ve been putting this off for some time, dreading looking at that graph of hits per day… but you know what?  I’ve been hovering around 10 — and shot up to 20-30 the last few days, so I guess its the right time for the Return of the Ape.

Reasons for not posting:

  • Lack of time, due to a couple of business plans I had hanging over my head, as well as the research and development of my own ideas, some of which I’ll get into shortly.
  • Lack of a motivation to write or of worthy subject material.  Thats a combination of life in the un-exciting city of Dhaka as well as my own inhibitions about putting some of my ideas on here — especially those of a sensitive commercial or for that matter, personal nature.
  • A general hatred for all mankind, in tune with the 5th phase of the planet Mercury, and the nexxus of Saturn and Uranus.  OK, just a general hatred for all mankind.

But I’m over all that now.  I broke through a brick wall today when I finished the second of my business plans for someone else and realized that now i can really follow my professional dream — build something that I own completely, that can not only make me bunchocasho, but also perhaps help… mankind?  Wait, didn’t I hate them a second ago?  Oh, the delicate balancing act that is the borderline personality disorder.

So the other day I spent pretty much the last of my money buying a ticket to Munich so that I can attend Intersolar 2009 — the largest solar power conference in the world.  Who says I’m not a risk taker anymore!  So that’s it — power generation.  Living here has made me realize that for Bangladesh, its going to be the next dotcom boom (although that didn’t happen here, really), the next telecom boom (which is already dying down)…

And I want in!  For the first time, I think I’m not only old enough to take on the responsibility of my own business but also find myself with the political connections to make my ideas happen.  Good job, dad, kissin’ up to your AL cronies.  Now its follow-through time.  Show Misha the money.  Between my relatives and friends, I’m somewhat well connected in Bangladesh all of a sudden.  I’m sure that balloon of hope will soon be popped, but allow me my moment of euphoria, as the jay I just toked on takes full effect.

And not only power generation — but renewable power generation.  As in solar, wind — but mainly solar.  Coz its frakkin’ hot here.  8.5 hours of sun as the yearly average.  4.5 kW per m2 per day.  That’s enough to make it work.  And its gettin’ hotter every year!  And I could swear the wind’s pickin’ up quite a bit, too, before those sudden monsoon storms.   But maybe that’s just the wind in my sails.

Har-dee-har-har.

So what the hell do I know about solar, you may ask?  Well, I’ve learned a lot recently.  Next step, real world tests — I’ve got lots of good practical ideas that I think could work, but they need to be tested for viability.  I’ll start off with the small, simple ideas, and build, until some day soon, I will no longer be Misha, the Unemployed, but will have morphed to my next life-cycle form, born again in a flash of flame from the ashes of this recession.

Wow, I’m really pilin’ it on with the corny similes/metaphors.  Well its been a while, so what did you expect.  So that’s it over here, I’ve found my life path.

‘Cept for that Citibank Interview on Sunday… and did I tell you about my lil’ software idea?

Up next, one of the above, or maybe something about my hiring policies.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Lockdown

What is true love… does it even exist?

I thought I had it once, long, long ago.  But then I lost it, because I was too immature to be able to hold on to it.  Coz I took it for granted.  Coz I treated it as a right instead of a gift.  Eh… my loss what do you care, right?

But if thats what it was, it was an amazing thing.  I often regret not having the balls to hold on to it when I had the chance.  But I was too young and stupid… keep your love locked down, like Kanye said.  You can tell he’s someone who’s gone through what I have — the loss of true love — I mean to be egotistical enough to put out a whole album about your past relationship you HAVE to be in a lot of pain.  Or maybe you just have to be Kanye.

I wonder if I’ll ever find it again.  I’ve come close, but at 32, I’m starting to really wonder. Coz you see, for real love, you need to trust someone completely.  You need that innocence, that willingness to share everything about yourself, and that willingness to give up everything that’s important to you, including your life, for the other person.   That’s what I had and that’s what I lost.  These days, trust is a difficult thing for me…

When I was younger, there was always a lot of love in my family, but also a lot of anger.  It was a roller-coaster on which we’d ride every day, my sister and I.  It made us very extreme when it came to our emotional reactions to people and things.  We’re quick to love and quick to anger.  And when we feel, we feel very, very deeply.  We care a lot, we hate a lot.  Everything is a lot.  There’s no “eh” with us.  Our blood flow is liquid passion.

Even now, I feel things so deeply, but I just don’t show them.  I pretend like I don’t care, like they don’t affect me.  Maybe I’ll even convince myself sometimes.  But I know they’re there, those emotions.   Deep down inside, they just linger.  The anger, the love.  Sometimes I can’t tell the difference.  Do I like angry sex or caring sex?  The answer is yes.

The trust is the toughest thing to recover.  We’ve been betrayed when it comes to parental relationships — we were promised that love would overcome all, but the divorce happened anyway.  So how could we ever trust that a relationship would last, when our parents fell apart before our eyes?  How could we ever believe in love, when love didn’t last?

But still, I’m not going to give up.  I still believe that she is out there… just waiting to be found by me.  Its tough, coz every time I meet someone, I put them up on a pedestal they do not belong on, or that they don’t deserve to be on.  And then they feel the pressure, and I get disappointed.

But one day, things’ll change.  I’ll find someone who’s up to the challenge.  There are 3.5 billion women on this planet — one of them has to be nuts enough to be able to handle me… and vice versa.  After all, if my crazy sister can do it, why not me?

Filed under: Uncategorized

World Domination Plans [TOP SECRET]

I like to tell myself (and now others), that if I lived to be a thousand years old, by the end of my life I’d be the King of the World (that’s a real title, people — just ask Genghis or Alexander).  Thats the watered-down old-man version.  When I was younger it was just “rule the world within one life-span.”  I’ve changed, man… I used to be cool.

Its quite amazing how much they remind me of Bush and Cheney now, naaaaarf.

Its quite amazing how much they remind me of Bush and Cheney now, naaaaarf.

Megalomaniacal?  Well I did watch a lot of Pinky and the Brain during college through a veil of acrid smoke, so maybe that warped me — although I’m sure we can look back and find some pre-5-year-old event that did most of the warping.  Lets not try to find out what that was right now though.

Is it even as complicated as that?   As omnivores, we humans have always walked (upright, most of the time) a fine line between our subhuman urge to hunt and kill, and our desire to settle down and lead a sedentary lifestyle (or “gather” even tho I’m aware that technically “gather” doesn’t involve cultivation).  Once we settled down more permanently and formed civilizations, that pent-up male frustration had to go somewhere, and it did.  It went into raping, killing and conquering each other.  I was going to point out a few historical examples, but there are so many that if I just say, “Remember __________?”, the blank is more than likely to refer to some violent event in human history.

By late in the 20th Century, our civilization as a whole had pretty much come to condemn and abhor violence (I am well aware of the inherent irony of what I’m saying here, but lets generalize for the sake of argument), especially on a geopolitical scale, so that it was no longer considered OK to kill millions just to get more stuff.  Our killer instinct had to be once more focused onto something other than the pursuit of blood.  And so it was, onto the pursuit of money.  And so here we are today.  And here I am.

I could point to a host of other supposed hypotheses on why I’m power-hungry, anything from having a pushy South-Asian know-it-all mom to feeling insecure about my family’s net worth next to so many of my peers.  But I tend to be  a complicated person ruled by simple needs.  And this one’s as simple as “Hulk, Smash!”

Why does this turn me on?  Or at least make my mouth water... hmm I'm getting confused.  More on food porn later.

Why does this turn me on? Or at least make my mouth water... hmm I'm getting confused. More on food porn later.

Of course, my thirst for world domination is somewhat tempered (more than somewhat) by the need for me to have my cake and eat it too — to live in the moment rather than think only about the future.  It is often difficult for me to sacrifice assured present pleasure for potential future gain.  I guess this is both my greatest barrier to success as well as the single personality trait I possess which is the most responsible for my well-being and happiness.  Without it I would probably wallow in misery and depression, rather than just pretending to wallow in it, as I do in this blog.

But as I get older, I get more conservative, and even wonder whether I shouldn’t have made more of these sacrifices than I did.   But then I just tell myself to shut up.  And adjust my world-domination schedule accordingly in Microsoft Project.  I”m not one for regrets… move on and plan accordingly.

That being said, part of my soul still lies on a secluded beach in the Balearic Isles, watching the sun loiter across the cloudless sky, drinking claras, and listening to the wind carrying the sounds of local DJs down the beach.  Maybe someday, the rest of me can be convinced to join it.

For now, must take stuff over.

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No Bones About Bonuses

So I noticed a recent divergence of viewpoints between a close friend of mine who’s been working in banking since 2008, and myself, who’s been working in, well…

Yeah.  That.

This difference came to my attention when I noticed his FB status retorting angrily on the fact that the media had scapegoated the AIG execs for taking their substantial bonuses after being bailed out.

cute? yes.  disturbing?  yes.  but also LOADED!

cute? yes. disturbing? yes. but also LOADED!

And here I am, thinkin’, “man I hate those damn rich fat cats who don’t care for us common folk,” bla bla bla.  “How dare they take that tax money that I haven’t been paying for the last 3 years — my hard-unearned tax money that I worked so unhard for.”

Good ol’ #####, stander-upper for the common man, the proletariate lover, good ol’ #####.

And then it struck me — I’m standing up for ’em coz I AM ONE OF THEM.  I AIN’T GOT NO CASH AND NO ASSETS.  I ain’t got shit on me but a half-decent brain, a good amount of heart, and even more debt.  Ladies?  Anyone?  Going twice…

I wonder if this is how my parents started off being hippies… oh noooz I’m reliving their lives!!!

This MBA is starting to look like a worse and worse idea.  I’m gonna be paying those damn loans off for a long, long time unless I kill myself.  Then my mom gets to pay coz she cosigned.  Hah!  Vengeance from beyond the grave!

I think a sigh is in order here.  Sigh.

K I’ve digressed into self-pity interspersed with moments of self-loathing, as well as a touch of general hatred (slowly seething) for all humanity.

So yea, if things had gone differently, would I be the one who would feel victimized for being blamed for hoarding taxpayer money?  Could I be that haughty millionaire, squinting at the rabble through my monocle, while checking the hour on my gold pocket watch, as the world came crashing down around my gold Rolls?  That’s an interesting question.  I always consider myself highly adaptable mentally — so maybe instead of adapting to my current low-brow everyman syndrome, my mental state of being would be adapted to that fantastical state of being where I might have been a New York banker, complete with bad attitude, loathing for everyone else, M5 and hot blonde girlfriend… ‘cept I prefer brunettes.  No gentleman is he, that sitteth here.

Is that really the measure of a man — a car and a girl?   Ummm, yeah pretty much.  Maybe what video game systems he has as well.

A visual representation of my worldly assets.

A visual representation of my worldly assets.

Off-topic once again — so yeah, I could probably see myself in my friend’s shoes, and even thinking along the same lines as my friend.  The old capitalistic “It’s mine and I worked hard for it” line was one that I professed to quite strongly way back when (only a freakin’ year ago?!?!  It feels like a serious eternity).  And still do.  I believe very much in the right of an individual to amass as much private wealth as he can.  Amass as much wealth as he can, yes.  But doesn’t that give one a responsibility to the rest of society to do something good and worthwhile — or at least to help others get the same opportunities?

I guess the table I now sit at is so much lower down than that of those AIG execs, that I’d like to think that had I been in their position, I might have actually felt guilty about taking that money, as the world came crashing down.  Or at least been scared of getting caught.

Or I’d like to think that I would feel the same way as I do now even if I sat at the big-papa table, because the values that my “hippy” parents have instilled in me aren’t socialist or capitalist, but… human.

I’d like to think that, anyway.

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lack of Energy Fuels Economic Cesspool.

Energy, energy, gas, gas, electricity, electricity, buzz buzz buzz…

It rules my daily life here, or it would, if I weren’t sitting in my sister’s cushy apartment feeding off the diesel generator that goes on every time the power goes out (luckily for me, the only thing I have to give up is Air Conditioning.  Sweet!  Doin’ my part for global warming!).

And it goes out a lot.  Like for hours a day every day like clockwork.  During peak hours.  The truth of the matter is that Bangladesh can’t produce enough electricity to keep up with demand.  It’s like a vicious cycle.  I remember when I was a kid, lets say 25 years ago, the power used to go out just as often — and no generators.  Favorite cartoons would get cut off, never to be seen again.

Oh Liono, how ever did you defeat Mummra that one time?  Did Snarf help?

But in the 1990s, power generation crept up, as more power stations were built, and the outages got a bit more bearable.

Today we’re back at unbearable.

The diesel generator that powers my internet during power outtages. Scoooore!

The diesel generator that powers my internet during power outtages. Scoooore!

Except every apartment building has diesel generators, which whir into action every time the power goes out, and spew diesel fumes into the air, to add to the city’s pollution problem.   But I hear diesel burns clean, so lets hope for the best.  Is it the right kinda diesel to burn clean?  Turns out, it isn’t.  Chalk one up for lung cancer.  Dhaka got out of one air pollution problem in the early 2000s to be on the brink of falling into another.

Not to mention the actual outages… I heard an estimate that power outages cost Bangladesh in 2% annual GDP.  Think about that — that’s just an exhorbitant amount of waste in a country where 45% of the population lives beneath the poverty level.  If energy shortages cost 2% imagine how much is lost to corruption…4%?  5%?  Were it not fucked up, Bangladesh’s economic growth rate would rival China’s.

Not to mention the increased petroleum imports into the country due to the additional need for diesel fuel — a country, that theoretically at least should be able to at least provide its own power generation needs through its ample natural gas reserves.

But even as new power plants are being built, often by incompetent idiots who have no previous experience in the energy sector, to the tune of long delays and wasted cash — EVEN as these plants are being built, we’re going through a natural gas shortage.  In other words, there’s nothing to power the plants.  A natural gas shortage that supposedly is “due to rising demand and the failure of past governments to find new sources, energy officials said on Sunday.”  It can’t be helping that natural gas prices, along with oil prices, have plummeted recently.

My bro-in-lawrs 2000 cc barrel burner.  Yowza!

My bro-in-lawrs 2.0 L bbl burner. Yowza!

Why should the oil companies break their backs looking for the shit now, when they can just wait it out until a higher price increases their profit margin.  Oil companies are probably the ONLY sector of the modern post-Bush global economy that haven’t been affected that much by our current recession.  They have been hedging their bets for a while, makin’ bank.  So they’re content to sit around and wait for the price to go up, and let us here in Dhaka sweat it out or use up the diesel that they’re selling us anyway.

Summer’s around the corner and its getting hotter every day.  The generator just went on.  Time to go for a ride in my 2000 cc AC car and burn some more gas.

Filed under: Energy, , , , , , , , , , , , ,