Month: June 2008

A Long Way Gone

I just finished reading A long way goneย by Ishmael Beah. It’s the true memoir of a boy from Sierra Leone, who witnessed a war in West Africa when he was only twelve, and was forced to become a child soldier. It’s sad, touching and disturbing, and so honestly written that I could picture every scene in my head. It’s a reminder of the insanity of war and the innocence of those involved, both simultaneously. It makes me wonder how somebody could go through such tragedy and have the courage to relive it to tell the world about it. Maybe that’s how bravery is defined. It reminds me, on some very superficial level, of a trip our creative writing class made to the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore. For most of us, who haven’t ever been touched by war, it is so easy to feel detached from the suffering that comes with it. Hearing of people fight and die has become so common place, that we have all beenย desensitized. And yet, people are indeed fighting and …

The days of yore

I don’t know what it is about our childhood that we can’t stop reminiscing. Maybe the innocence, maybe the ignorance. At some point, we lost track of time and grew up. Those days seem so long ago, but we’ll always carry a part of them within us. Sometimes in the form of playful memories, sometimes as cherished dreams. When you’re twenty and it hits you that you can’t control time, it begins to sting inside. What wouldn’t you give to live one of those days again, just a little bit differently? I know that the only people who can bring us anywhere close to our long-gone childhood are our parents. Maybe it’s the unconditional affection, maybe the faith they have in us. Sometimes, I wonder how they do it, and so universally. I was allowed to be a child these last ten days. Today, they get back to India and I get back to reality. I hate goodbyes.

A reality check

We had our interns’ orientation at work today. I’m not one for making too much small talk, but the other interns seemed pretty nice. There are some 20 of us in total. We were being pitched the MA program, and while HR talked about all the values, training and development stuff, I was almost enticed. I know by now that I like the kind of people that come to work there, friendly, intellectual and hardworking. But post HR’s intro, three people talked to us about their lives in the bank. The first was a guy whose been with them for 9 years. He looked like a misplaced designer / advertising guy (if you know what I mean), but with a more pleasing personality. I thought heย  showed just the right degree of “passion” and “enthusiasm” for the stuff that he did. The second was a recently hired MA, an SMU alum, who sounded like she was still trying to convince herself that she had chosen the right place to find the ‘work-life balance’. The third …

Facebook for dummies

At a team lunch at work last week, Facebook poked its way into our conversation. Only 2 of my 30-something team-mates have ventured into the “happening” world of social networking. I don’t intend to mock, but it was more than amusing to hear someone talk about Facebook in such naive terms! It struck me then that we are really a generation apart. While we were busy building our lives on Facebook, there were some totally oblivious to that part of the world, the way Europeans were to the Americas until Christopher Columbus came along. Who would have thought that the super wall could indeed divide our generation from theirs?

Mid-year resolutions

New year resolutions have never been my thing. The maximum they’ve lasted is a month, but it has always been a good month. So I’ve decided to renew this year’s resolutions. It’s June, and I’m calling them mid-year resolutions. There are lots of things I should be resolving, but for now, I’ll just stick to the most important of them – Optimism! I am not a hard-core pessimist, but my realism is definitely inclined away from optimism. I reached quite a low this semester with respect to my academic / professional life. I started to believe that I’m not destined for great things, that being ordinary is enough. Maybe it is, but I can’t not try. Lately, my entrepreneurial dream has started to surface again, and this time, I won’t let it die. It may take a while for me to get there, but I am prepared to wait and learn things along the way. And so, when I start my job hunt this coming semester, I’m going to know what exactly it is that …

Working in a bank

For a long time, I thought banks were plain evil. I guess it started with how everyone (almost everyone) in college wants to get a job in a bank, some bank, any bank. To me, it came as a stark reminder of how people are all rowing their boats towards the same lighthouse, and how they’d probably crash on the same rock. It isn’t for the love of the work. Only money. A series of poor judgments and a phase of desperation later, I find myself working in, well, a bank! It puts my ‘principles’ on dubious grounds. It makes me a two-faced hypocrite. It took nothing less than courage to walk into that office, stamping over everything I had quite believed in. A week and a half into it, I’m almost proud to say I’ve survived. I must admit how baseless my “logic” was. At least as far as Marketing is concerned, a consumer bank is extremely similar to any other consumer goods company. They merely sell financial plans, like a telecom company would …

Yarets’ World Trip

On Friday night, I met a guy called Vladimir Yarets. He was standing next to a motorbike when I saw him, with a widespread display of pictures on the ground. These were pictures from around the world, from Yarets’ journey which started in May 2000 in his hometown in Russia. For 8 years, he has been traveling everywhere he can go, on his motorbike. He’s done all of Europe, Australia and parts of Asia so far, more than 40 countries in all. Unlike most globetrotters, Yarets is deaf and mute. At sixty-something (I guess), he wasn’t at all disappointing for a man living out his dream, everyday. He looked excited as lots of people stopped by to look at his display and dropped money into his helmet. There was this look about him which I can’t seem to put down in words. It was somewhat a mixture of pride, enthusiasm, tranquility, even happiness. It’s not everyday that you meet someone so daring, so brave and so inspiring. It makes you evaluate your own dreams, your …