December 2007 Archives

A cruel trick

(written December 19th, 2006. Forgot to publish until December 31st, 2007)

My thoughts as I ride a taxi out of Delhi towards the domestic airport on my way to Bangalore, turn to the chaos, the disorder, the disarray, disrepair, destitute and abject poverty evident everywhere I looked in this city.

The saying is that "time is money", but this is a cruel trick; a slight of hand to keep one from seeing that when one has no money, time means little. Yes, even the poorest strive every moment for any rupee they can get, but it is out of purest survival and not the for the maintenance of the many layers of abstractions many of us, in the so-called "civilized" west, live in, removed from that most frightening point--the point where survival runs out.

I came here with an enormous sense of anxiety, the source of which I was not entirely clear on. I knew it was not work related, and though I thought I could chalk it up to apprehension towards the unknown elements of my travel plans, I knew it couldn't be that. I work well in adversity, I can flow with the moment.

"Please sir, two rupees," she said as she weakly presented some daily newspaper to me and mimed putting food in her mouth. Her eyes were dull. Almost dead. She was under ten years of age and perched here on the side of an overcrowded roadway, peddling whatever she could for survival.

I, on the other side of the open window, was in a taxi that was going to cost me 350 rupees. I rather not even think for one second how many rupees I just credited the last 3 nights in a 5 star hotel to without going flush, with a weight in my chest.

The taxi began to move again, but I was paralyzed.

(I have no illusions of the many faces of this coin: a few moments later, at the next intersection, two children came and begged and after another tortuous refusal, they both cracked huge mischievous smiles, the younger boy smacking me on the knee as they ran away laughing... It was not malicious, and I am not callous or over sympathetic; I laughed then too.)

The anxiety I had been feeling came from weeks of preparation for this horrible moment. Weeks of dulling my emotions, killing my heart and steeling up for the moment when another sentient human being came to me and asked for help that I could so ... SO easily and fluidly provide... and have to refuse.

Why refuse? I don't know. But the shock is tremendous.

As I pondered this, a scooter zipped by with the following admonition advertised on it's spare wheel cover:

"If your neighbor is suffering injustice and you can sleep, then just wait your turn."

2007 in quick review

Started the year in Tokyo, after having travelled from Delhi, Bangalore, Singapore and Bangkok.
Ended it in Tokyo, after travelling to London and Paris.

Spent a week in Hong Kong setting up a blogging platform for the HKU Journalism department (JMSC)

Got offered a job in Hong Kong as Interaction Designer. Failed to follow up.

Consulted The Japan Times, informally, on matters of business models for journalism.

Consulted Reuters, for GlobalVoices, on web technologies and interaction therewith.

Launched a full redesign/restructure of

Launched the Global Voices "Lingua" translation project.

Started, produced and hosted Pecha Kucha Montreal, 3 times by year's end.

Visited Tokyo, twice.
Visited Paris, France, twice.
Visited London, England, twice.
Visited New York City, once (and stayed in a former Greatful Dead's apartment on the border of ChinaTwon and Little Italy)

I travelled to far away places, mostly to see people who are important to me.

Joined as Lead Web UI Designer
(or something like that... titles, pshaw!)
Moved to London, UK for 6 weeks to work on

Biked, a lot.
Drove, a lot less.

Ate a lot of fruits and veggies.
Ate a lot less meats and dairy.

Met a lot of truly great people,
and made a lot of new friends.
Lost a few too, I always do,
and met a few wankers as well.

I loved, was loved, and lost. I am loved, and love, once more.
Let us not dare to hope, lest we lose again.

I had one thousand conversations that had deep impacts on me; I can only hope some of those had an impact on you too.

Thanks to all of you, one way or another.
Without you I am no one, no where.