Friday, April 27, 2012

All is Well

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fascinated with India and everything related to it, I have been lured by the charm of Bollywood films, one of which is 3 Idiots, a comedy-drama-musical directed by Rajkumar Hirani. When faced with dire circumstances, the movie’s ‘idiots’ repeat the words aal izz well (all is well), like a soulful mantra. Remembering the movie while writing this, I realize that those three words sum up my life right now. My life’s twists and turns were all recorded in this blog and--having written 935 posts in the last five years--it is good to know that, as I start another year of blogging, all is well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

hating my internet service provider

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I am so hating my internet service provider right now. It’s been two weeks since I lost connection at home. I’ve called their customer service four times since then yet my calls were all in vain. They gave different reasons for the interruption: some problem with the tower, problem with the server’s satellite signal, the antenna has to be remotely reconfigured and so on.  I don’t really care what’s causing the problem; I just need my connection back.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.

 ~ Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 2006

Monday, April 23, 2012

if the knees and lungs allow

Monday, April 23, 2012

With still six months to go before the trip I find myself already preoccupied with travel preparations.  There are just so many things to put in order for a two-country, three-week itinerary – financial considerations, places to visit, accommodation and train and bus schedules. The plan includes staying in far-flung Himachal Pradesh, the high-altitude ranges that shelter the northern reaches of India followed by the snowy peaks of Annapurna.  And I am totally agog over everything.  I just hope the powers that be grant me a visa to India. If they don’t, going straight to Nepal doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. It will even give us time to do the entire Circuit, if the knees and lungs allow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The decision to have children is an economic problem

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A faded bluebook fell from the pages of a magazine as I was flipping through it last night. Dated 19 January 1997, it was for a long exam in Economics 191. What’s written on the first page caught my attention:

The decision to have children is an economic problem.
 
Childbearing can be viewed as an economic decision wherein children are considered like any other good subjected to income and substitution effects. Based on the microeconomic household theory of fertility, household demand for children is determined by the couple’s preference for a target number of surviving children.

The demand for children varies directly with income and prices of alternative goods and varies inversely with the price of and taste for children.  The higher the household income, the higher the demand for children; but the higher the net price (money, time, opportunity costs) of children, the lower the quantity demanded. If prices of alternative goods increase, couples will decide to have more children; but if they have a stronger preference for other goods compared to children, a lower demand for children will result. The combined effects of income, prices and tastes, therefore, determine the quantity of children demanded by a particular household.

Furthermore, couples choose the combination of goods and children that will give them maximum satisfaction and yield more benefits than costs.  It follows, therefore, that parents and would-be parents are influenced by the benefits and costs accompanying childrearing. Benefits can be either psychic, i.e. emotional aspects, or economic, i.e. expected income from child labor and financial support for elderly parents. Costs can also be classified as economic and psychic.  Economic costs include monetary costs like money spent on food and education as well as opportunity costs. One opportunity cost of raising children is the opportunity cost of parents’ time, especially that of mothers’, which can take the form of additional income they could have earned if not taking care of their children.

I can’t help but laugh at how sober I sounded then.  Did I really answer exams like this? What utter nonsense, I thought.  But as I continue to ponder on what I wrote fifteen years ago, I realize that it does make a lot of sense. Economic realities influence the decision to have children.

Monday, April 16, 2012

esprit d’escalier

Monday, April 16, 2012

The French have had the wit to pack into the words esprit d’escalier the common experience that one’s happiest retorts occur to one only when the chance of uttering them is gone, the door is closed, and one’s feet are on the staircase. (H.W. and F.G. Fowler, The King’s English, 1922) 


It’s not every day that I come face-to-face with people whose sense of entitlement is so warped that I was nearly at a loss for words. ‘It’s like being given this much yet still wanting to have everything else, which we all know you do not deserve,’ was the only retort that I could muster. My seeming lack of diffidence proved ineffectual in preventing the encounter from turning into an exercise in esprit d’escalier

Encountering greed, ostensible and undisguised, is quite unsettling. It has made me reconsider the life choices I adhere to with such tenacity. Always with pride that I say, I have no business sense whatsoever and I do not believe in doing things entirely for lucre. But when I look at the other side and see how unbridled ambition and self-interest have propelled others’ lives, the desire for something more, something bigger, something beyond what is necessary becomes necessary. But is it necessary to always ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ or to look at everything with profit in mind? How has greed become a standard practice, even a guiding principle in life?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you live in the dark a long time

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There's an initial uprush of relief at first, then--for me, anyway--a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren't yet operational.There's been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible.

~ Mary Karr, Lit, 2009

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Torschlusspanik

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Torschlusspanik is the horror of being left out. It also refers to “the growing panic of a childless woman as she approaches middle age, knowing that she must soon get pregnant or lose the opportunity to conceive.” (Wikipedia) 

Most of my peers are well into their family lives, and I, well in the middle of my fourth decade in life, can scarcely say that I feel the need to join the race against the biological clock. Shouldn’t I be suffering from childlessness induced torschlusspanik by now? The feeling simply feels foreign to irredeemable souls like me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Aestivation

Monday, April 9, 2012

I haven't spoken to anyone since Wednesday. Like animals that aestivate during the summer months, I spent the entire Lent in torpor, away from the babble of people and the swelter of the city.  Keeping myself company for six straight days is more fun than I expected.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Baja!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Life could not get more blissful than this, I thought.  The brilliance of the sun, the headiness of the cool mountain air, Urubamba’s town square enveloped in tranquil idleness - they restore souls too mired in the bustling back and forth of every day.   Like the inactive fountain at the center of the square, the people that surrounded it looked as though they saunter through life, making quiet moments special and necessary. I inhaled the soothing air, the foreign yet familiar air of the Sacred Valley, and I fitted right in.

We left the town still exhilarated by its quiet beauty.


The ride back proved to be even more invigorating.  The bus was filled to the brim, and we were enclosed in the musty smell of woolies and the indecipherable sounds of the Quechan language.  It sped off, leaving us with an indistinct view of the empty roads and the mountainous countryside from the window.  Enthralled by entire experience, we missed our stop.  Several minutes have gone when we realized that we’ve already passed the sign to our inn.  We pushed our way to the front while murmuring perdoneme and hollering para aqui!  The other passengers realizing that we are scrambling to get off the bus tried to help us. It took some minutes for the driver to hear them telling him to stop and several more minutes for him to finally grind to a halt.

We had to walk back three kilometers to reach the inn.  And we couldn’t stop laughing the entire time.

Back at the inn we relayed our adventure to Brian and Gabriel, the inn owners. That’s when we found out that for a bus to stop in that part of Latin America we had to yell baja and not para, as guide books suggest.   

Learning how to say "stop the bus" the local way was simply the perfect way to end that wonderful day.

 
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