The Sapient Ape

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

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Babies are the new speed.

baby arnold

Watchoo Talkin' 'Bout Willis?

For men, babies suck.  They make shit loads of noise and crave attention from women, which they get without even trying by just making a stupid face or gurgling.

Kids somehow, I can deal with more, coz at least the relationship’s somewhat multidirectional.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a baby-hater  — I’m just jealous coz I want all that attention myself, dammit!  But seriously its more like I’m not drawn to them by the cute factor — not a single bit — and other than that they just make incoherent noises.  Kids a bit older, you can fuck with their heads a bit (I’m sick), but babies don’t know wtf is going on.

I need my children like my video games — interactive.  With lots of shit flying around and blurry lights and stuff.  Not some goo-goo gaa-gaa thing lying on its back like an overturned tortoise, flailing its arms and legs wildly.  Laaaaaaame.

But its interesting that most men probably feel like I do, until they are fathers, or when their own genetic heritage is at play.  At that point, their previous disgust and general eww-ness towards babies turns to a rapturous love affair with the-now-object-of-their-love-and-affection for a good two or three years, at which point the normal dad reverts to not caring and or engaging the child till he’s a teenager and the angst…

Well lets just leave it at that.

But yeah, men and babies.  Its quite simple, really.  Its all biology, isn’t it?  From a biological standpoint, men exist at the basest level SOLELY to pass on their genes.  However, over the millennia, male humans (and probably other animals as well, mammals particularly) have, through natural selection, evolved a genetic predisposition to care for their young as soon as they are born.  Too protect the young and not stray from the mother.

Why?  Coz if you believe in natural selection, males who had this trait were more likely to care for their young.  That trait got passed on to the little ones.  Those offspring were more likely to survive due to better parental care, and that trait was passed on.

If you think about it, its quite amazing how much we are still ruled by our biology.  Granted, perhaps some of us more than others.  But for me personally, I think that my ultimate reason for being is to pass on my genes.  Shallow?  Perhaps.  Untrue in today’s world?  Perhaps.  But to this day, genetic heritage is the closest we as human beings have come to immortality.  And I guess I’m afraid of dying.

Right here, I’ve really intellectualized my reason for wanting to pass on my genetic code by blaming it on my fear of death.  But perhaps, at a baser level, the chemical reactions driving my need is much… well… baser.  Its just my biological clock telling me.

“Hey, psssst.  You’re gonna die soon.  Better get on with it and make a baby or something.”

Which I guess is the same thing, ‘cept in version A I’m in control of my decision-making, and in version B its all predetermined by biology.

I don’t want anyone to worry too much tho — I’m not gonna have any babies any time soon — I have to screw up my sister’s kid first — I mean fix him, fix him… THAT’s what I meant.

And oh yeah — babies are the new speed.

They keep you up all night, make you mumble incoherently, and something else I forgot.

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

Is the Recession Killing My Drive?

Settling.

I once had a friend say, “Misha, never settle.”  Whether in relationships or in life in general, I have always taken his words to heart.

But now, I find myself wondering.  At almost 33, unemployed and in debt, with only an education and some good experience to show for it, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for me to take the easy road.

If this last year has taught me one thing, its that I am definitely ready for some stability.  So much so, that I might give up lofty dreams and perhaps even ideals for it.  Its been tough being homeless (even tho my family has totally been there for me), and not having the freedom of an income.  I never appreciated it so much, and for some independence, I’m willing to give up more than I was before.

I’ve had to significantly re-adjust my expectations during this time, going from expecting a 6-figure plus salary and bein’ a success in my own eyes to just wanting to make enough to get a place of my own.  Pretty serious change, eh?

Going through a psychological readjustment of such a degree has to have some form of adverse affect on one.  So why am I not feeling the pressure that much?  Is it my not caring syndrome that is letting me live with myself?

But there has been an adverse effect.  I think for me, that has become the need for stability in one facet of my life, whether my career, my relationship (or lack thereof), or my psyche.  I seem to think (and perhaps rightly so) that if I can find one of those, the others will follow.

I have always seen myself as a risk-taker, and in some ways its one of my greatest strengths — to try, fail, and then go on as if nothing has happened.  I am somewhat scared of losing that at this moment.  That the instability in my own life created by this recession and my subsequent unemployment has made me more risk-averse, and willing to well…

Settle.

Ouch that kinda hurts.

I still can’t let go of the dreams of world domination.  I just want too much still from this life.

But how little a thing can change that forever?  Perhaps my new nephew already has.

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

I love…

everybody and everything… for another few hours.

No drugs just booze.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Masturbation, Self-promotion, or Flagellation?

flagella

Flagellation

Here it is — my “Why did I start a blog?” post.  Or did I do that one already?  Today, since  I hit 145 hits on this blog in a single day, I’ve decided its time to try and answer that question.

So, why is it that I started this blog?  Was it a desperate cry for attention?  A thinly veiled attempt to garner some sympathy from my peers for my current predicament (which actually ain’t so bad!)?  Am I trying to get a job?  Or do I just have a big ego?

All of these could be true.  And probably are, to varying degrees.

A couple of months ago, my sister, mom and I were having our usual daily family spat, when my sis said to me, “You know you really have a problem with showing us that you care about anything.”  That very poignant truth caused in me a lot of self-reflection.

To many of you, what she said may sound like the opposite of what you know about me.  I seem so emotionally colorful, always smiling and shit.  Good ol’ “Mr. Party!”  Always down for a drink and a laugh, right?  “Hey we want to do something totally banal and surface-level?  Lets go out and get wasted with #####.”  But thats just the superficial side of me.  My public persona.

In reality, I am extremely bad at displaying emotions that really matter to me.  Showing vulnerability is my ultimate vulnerability.  One of the negative aspects of being an emotionally empathetic person is that you leave yourself open to pain.  That’s why nowadays I’m more emotionally apathetic than empathetic.  I may act emotionally in the moment, either in happiness or sadness, rage or anger, but it has become hard for me to really let myself feel deep emotions — especially if they impact me negatively in the long-term.  I just end up… not caring.  Whether its a family fight, a girlfriend, or a job — if its gonna hurt me, I turn the dial straight to the “don’t give a shit” channel.  Making snide comments?  Don’t give a shit.  Screw me over for someone else?  Don’t give a shit… and never did.  Don’t wanna hire me?  Well fuck, I never wanted to work for you anyway.

Does that make me sound superficial?  Hmm, well should I really get into this here?  Nah lets leave the psychological self-diagnoses for another post — it’ll be more interesting that way anyway (and I can milk it — you don’t know how tough it is to keep thinking of “interesting” topics).  The point here is that I’ve developed a self-defense mechanism, where something that really mattered to me before, ceases to do so as soon as it has the potential to hurt me.  Which, although it has its advantages, has taken the passion out of my life somewhat — and I want that passion back.

I’ve realized that caring about stuff, or even hurting about stuff, is what gives it value (“Stuff” Valuation 101, people — we all took it!).  I feel like I’m walking around these days literally an emotional shell, not feeling anything — and although that may save me from pain and other negative emotions, thats not necessarily the best way to go for me, personally.  I need that passion back to feed the fire that drives.

So here it is, my blog!  My semi-lame attempt to give people some insight into what actually is feeding my fire — insight into what I give a shit about — or the fact that I give a shit at all.  Of course, actually vocalizing these emotions to real human beings would probably be the best way to go.  But shit, you gotta learn to take baby steps before you can [finish this cliche].

Speaking of baby steps, my sister just had one (a baby), and I gotta say his eyebrow arches are mine.  I see my furrowed brow in his.

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

Lifer’s Block

Since the introduction of CNG tech, air quality in the city has improved noticeably

Since the introduction of CNG tech, air quality in the city has improved noticeably

Lifer’s Block.

As in writer’s block, but relating to your whole life.  That’s what I’ve felt about coming to Dhaka in the past.  A black hole from which escape is very difficult.

I guess that’s why, since high school, I’ve been coming back less and less.  I see Dhaka as what my life could become, should I let it — the dark side of my personality finally taking over for good.

In many ways, I’m being unfair to Bangladesh.  The changes here have rolled through almost overnight (if you count almost 20 years as overnight).  There used to be a time, when I visited my family in the 70s and 80s, when the roads used to be clear of any cars after 8pm, where convenience  stores were few and far between, where even picking up a toothbrush involved planning and a 20 minute drive.  The 70s and 80s didn’t see much economic development, and change was slow.  Enter globalization, in the 90s, and a rapid period of development, both economic and social.  Today, city-wide all-day traffic jams make a half mile trip take half an hour.  Commerce abounds, and restaurants are everywhere.  Crate and Barrel quality imports enter the local market straight from the Chinese manufacturers as private label goods.  Here, at least, one can see the benefits that globalization has had on Asia — at least the middle and upper class of Asia.  Their lives have definitely improved.

I stopped playing this game once I got to high school.

I stopped playing this game once I got to high school.

But for me, Dhaka represents stagnation — my last two years of high school were here, and were filled with long periods of boredom and frustration.  Escaping back to the US was the beginning of my freedom, not only from my parents, but from a society that is often small-minded, judgmental, and ultra-materialistic.  Wealth, and the accumulation thereof, is seen as primary measure of success and power.  I realize this can be said about almost anywhere in the world, but it seems to me that due to the extreme poverty that is prevalent here, the materialism is more pronounced.  And I find myself easily falling into that mindset, or being a victim of its consequences.

But I’m generalizing.  Things aren’t all bad here — people aren’t ALL evil.  My dilemma is, that as an unemployed broke-ass, I could probably get a job here relatively easily, either with an NGO, or with a local multinational — the salary would be pitiable by Western standards, but I could actually live relatively comfortably here.

Ahh Dhaka... the idylic crow by the putrid lake...

Ahh Dhaka... the idylic crow by the putrid lake...

This would also (hopefully) give me an opportunity to work on my own business projects which so far, I’ve been stagnating with.  If I were here, I could find other individuals who could help me launch my ideas and make them a reality.  I could even work on products for the export market.  Even China, which remains one of the countries that I would like to maintain a connection with, is a closer flight from here, and business with China is booming in Bangladesh (as it is everywhere).

So I’m actually considering it as a real possibility, especially after June — once I take my Foreign Service Exam.

Like I’ve mentioned before, I have trouble making decisions.  Every time I come here, I am able to convince myself that I can give up my dreams of world domination and settle down to make babies with some hot young thing.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , ,

Check back on Wednesday March 4, at 5pm GMT (Noon Eastern) for my next autopost…

Filed under: Uncategorized