0297 – The Part of Life We Didn’t Choose

I’m writing to you from the backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala, India. And by that, I mean from this:

It was one of the rare opportunities that I had to escape the chaos of the overpopulated, crowded India. Small wooden boats, traditional homes, coconut trees, and the low rumbling sound of the motor undisturbed by the honking and vrooming combine to provide a very very welcome relief. I was writing this post with a pen and a notepad, with pistachio nuts in my other hand. As I transcribe my posts onto here, I’m wondering why I haven’t done this before. It’s kinda nice to disconnect sometimes.

I haven’t been blogging for a while; I was sucked into the chaos of this country. With my internship, planning my weekend trips, the traffic, the wait and whatnot, I barely have time to  breath. And the air that I breath isn’t that particularly pleasant either. I was thinking about titling this post something like “From India with Love,” but I’d be lying if I say that right now. There’s no love yet. I’m still in culture shock mode I guess. I’ve met some really cool people here, but overall, it’s not been fun with the traffic, the honks, and the people trying to rip you off. It’s just… chaotic all the time. I keep thinking that I can’t live here.

You know… you’re born into an environment that shapes your character–kind of without a choice. But perhaps there is a reason for that. Perhaps there’s a reason for it all. The location/environment at which you’re born into is the part of life you did not really choose, but not long thereafter, we choose our life.

Why was I born in Thailand? Why’re so many people born in India? And why am I here to see this place?

India is such a culturally rich and diverse country that I can’t really do it justice with one blog post. I’m going to try to explore as much as I can, but you can’t really see all that India offers in eight weekends. One thing that’s really nice about India is that diversity is generally well-accepted. Well, they kinda have to; there’s so many of everyone everywhere. I was talking to my taxi driver last week, and he was telling me how he was Hindu, but he loved hearing from the Dalai Lama. “Very good man,” he said. You don’t really find that too often, not in the US.

The trajectory of this country will be interesting to see in the coming years. It can become homogenized as it continues to usher in the Western ways, but if it finds a way to retain its identity and cultural diversity, it can be very fascinating to see how globalization affects this giant.

Simplicity.

I wish scenes like this will be captured over and over.

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0296 – Me, Myself, My Box… and My Computer

I had a good conversation with two other employees in the Green Initiatives team at Infosys yesterday. It turns out that there are other people who also feel trapped in this  “system” that renders so many of us outside-the-box dreamers hushed. You know, I sometimes find it ironic that I am working on sustainability at an IT company, because the technological revolution hasn’t been exactly the most environmentally friendly change in our society. We ended up talking about how sustainability really hasn’t gotten into the minds of many people yet. I feel this at my college too; These days, too many us are about me, myself, my box… and my computer.

Both in Thailand and India (in Asia in general really), there’s a way that we’re so used to operating – emulating the US and the Western world. We all know that there’s something wrong with that, because, liberty and all, the one cannot claim that the US is advancing in the most sustainable way. Yet, many in Asia still view US as the model, and put themselves in the same “box” that has led us to our perils today.

Then comes the age of the computer. The IT industry is booming hard. And there’s no sign of stopping. Arguably, it’s one of the causes of the apparent disconnect between human beings with one another, and with nature. Computers have largely moved us indoors, and made us stationary–most likely at a small cubicle with tall walls so you can’t see the guy opposite you. This feels ironic since I am using a computer to complain about computers, but the issue is huge. We’re at a computer all. the. time, especially in IT offices. The office life ain’t the most fun I’ve had. That’s too bad, because it should be.

Long gone are the days when we roam freely. Long gone are the days when we live in harmony with nature, when  the artificial doesn’t displace the natural.

Our challenges today are so tough not only because we live in a box, but also because we’re content in it with the computer. To get everyone out would require an extraordinary coalition of passionate, charismatic and forward-thinking change agents that have “A Healthy Disregard For The Impossible.” Shoutout to LeaderShape for nurturing these change agents.