How Much Do You Need It

How Much Do You Need It: It is no surprise what a person needs and what a person gets are completely different things. This is why everyone learns to do expectation management. And also learn to grin and accept it when expectations are not met. One is also reminded that some expectations are not correct - sometimes those become entitlements and people seem to take the expectations as granted and consider them to be the norm. A bondhu recently said about life - "reprioritize and move on." Indeed that often is the way things work, jobs change, places change and if one expected to live the rest of their lives in a certain way, all of a sudden something would happen, and all the "needs" need to be rethought. Global moments from the Second World War to the recent earthquake in Turkey constantly remind us that what we need from the World, we will not only not get, but we will be reminded, sometimes even rudely, that what we thought we needed, we should not have needed at

That is awesomely shocking

That is awesomely shocking: Today, my dear bondhu and respected colleague visited my class. An internationally renowned researcher, winner of many awards, Professor Michael Hyde, wanted to collect data from my students. Data on the notion of "awe." I have spent many a spirited hour with Michael learning from him about the notion of "awe." Yet, every time I listen to him, I am inspired, and thus again I pondered. We have all had the moments of awe, but as I break it down I am tempted to ask, what are the sources of awe? For instance, some would claim that one is awed by a place. But, I wonder. When I have walked through the edifices of Manhattan, or taken a train through the rice fields of Bengal, or recently viewed the sunset on the Pacific - right off Highway 1 that runs from Los Angeles to San Francisco - I was impressed; I was amazed by the work of nature and how we have harnessed technology, but I was not awe struck, impressed, yes. Standing at Observatory Point

And you are dead

And you are dead. When do you die? The medical answer is banal, "DOA" Dead on Arrival. There comes a moment when the cells in the body, deprived of nutrients, fail to perform the tasks that we call "life." And at that moment, it is safe to burn off the remaining cells, or put it six feet under ground and call it a day. After the ceremonies and some real and false tears, life goes on, except for the cells six feet under or those reduced to ashes and polluting some water body. But this death is banal. It has no importance to the one who died. That person doesn’t really give a rat's behind about the death. Once the person is dead. Till that point it can be an excruciating life of pain or a happy life of being in an airplane hit by a missile and you are dead before you hit the ground. And splatter. But the real death happens when you are alive. And I see the dying around me. Death is the end of memories. When you decide that there is nothing more to remember. Rememb

Of Tall Tales

Of Tall Tales and Stupid People. Be warned everything you hear is a story. I have spent the better part of my career working with stories. We academics call it "narratives." And the more I look at the World around me I realize that I have lost the ability to enjoy a story. Because it is always, oh so predictable, and always, oh so false. You see the tall tales and you see the stupid people who believe the stories they are told and walk around in blissful ignorance of the fact that they have just been taken for a ride. It is easy to find the holes in a story - it is just that you have to look for them. And you only look for them when you accept that everything you are hearing is a manufactured tale with some bits of reality and truth to lull you into comfort and the rest is just fabricated. One then asks why? Why do people pepper their stories with the fictional and the fabrication. The unfortunate truth is that people have things to hide. People are in places of vulnerability

And You I Trust

And You I Trust. Really? After about five years of focused research on surveillance and the resulting book, I am doubtful. Trust is a disappearing element in a World that has become self-centered and willing to risk a lot for the thing we want to do that others want to deny us. Trust rests on the assurance that you will not be judged. Trust assumes that you are accepted as you are. That it requires no pretense, it requires no secrets. But we know that is a myth. In reality, the reverse of trust - suspicion - is what often runs our lives. Every action is worthy of doubt. And sometimes rightfully - because things may not be as they appear. The apparent innocence is only the "public face" that the thinker Goffman taught us about. We present the public face. We lie. Blatantly. Because it suits our purpose. Because we hope we will not be found out. Because we know that we are trusted. And we abuse that trust. In our circles of trust we find the comfort of knowing that we can lie,

Money for nothing

Money for nothing and the chicks for free. Remember that song from Dire Straits. They were talking about work, if you follow along with the lyrics, it also says, "That ain't workin', that's the way you do it." And indeed, what is work? I am on my first research leave of my academic career this semester. For those who do not know, academics are offered a few breaks from teaching which are called "sabbaticals." Derived from the old Hebrew word, " shabbāth" the term refers to a point of rest when you rejuvenate and return to work with renewed energy. In the American academic system, a faculty member can become eligible for the sabbatical every 6 to 7 years. In my career, I never asked for rest and finally, it felt it was time. But it is not really rest, it is a time to explore work options that are connected with your profession, and you spend the break from classroom teaching to do work that might have some value outside of the classroom work. Bu

Make Your Own Trip, Please!

Make Your Own Trip. This matter came to my mind after a brief correspondence with a bondhu, and I started to think about my travels and how radically different it has been compared to how many people choose to travel. I have always made my travel arrangements, from the initial research to the final return home. On the other hand, many seem to relinquish the joy of preparing for the travel and submit to companies who do the enjoyable work for them. There are companies that now cater to people who have given up their ability to create their own travels. People who are more interested in the risk-free banality of a controlled existence - where the thrill of getting lost has been traded for the boredom of always being found. This the World of organized vacations. With the return of travel, now that the World has realized that COVID-19 will not be beaten but things will go on as they did, people are starting to travel. This is when companies with names that are variations of the title of th