Cost of working Saturday

A friend of mine was offered a job offer, where the total annual compensation remained the same, but the working hours were reduced drastically (from 60 to 40 hours a week). Normally such an offer is attractive only for someone is on the threshold of being burned-out, or as a last ditch attempt to save the marriage or a female/male who is guilt ridden for not being able to meet social/family commitments/obligations. Unfortunately he is neither of the three, yet should he seriously consider the offer. What is more important your annual salary or what you make per hour?

On the face of it seems like a career suicide. Being busy, frequent international travel and long distance telephonic meeting are considered as telltale signs of a power executive. Power executives are destined to stock-options, early promotions and insane salaries that we read only in the papers. In today’s world where even colleagues don’t understand what the other team does, working longer hours is the only conclusive quantitative metric to evaluate the most valuable employee. So trading all this for a quieter life, means giving up on the race to success.

Tele-commuters or part time employees often are last to get promoted, first to be fired and receive the smallest increments in the team. Many employees work long hours to get job security, a signal that it will take two guys to replace them and so rather than replacing them with a younger and cheaper talent the management will have to shell out two salaries. No wonder so many people sacrifice their evenings & weekends to professional life even though they get no overtime or incentives.

My friend understands that any job switch comes with a transition cost. Inflation correction/annual increment clock is rest (loss of ~5%), plus another 10-15% of the loss in bonus/performance (existing employer often does not pay up for the existing part of the financial year and new employer will pay pro-rata/reduced pay out), add to it the relocation and other transition related expenses. So even with a matching pay, for this financial year, savings will take a major hit.

Most people still will look at annual salary rather than how much they are compensated for every hour they work. There is no doubt that Indians, Chinese & Asians in general work longer hours than their counterparts in Europe, America & rest of the developed worlds. Add to it the longer commute time due to congestion, meetings at odd hours and travel, the work-life balance is heavily skewed towards work. WHY is it we attach no value to our weekends, spending time with our family, pursuit of hobbies?

Germany & Euro | Cull the strongest

Today the age old: Happy go merry grasshopper & hardworking ant story has a different ending. The grasshopper is no longer considered as a fool who did not save for the winter. Instead it is projected as a smart shrewd businessman who made the most of the summer and when the winter came got some bail-out funds, long term soft loans and sympathy for its cause. Instead the hard working ant is projected as a monster that has everything and is not willing to share. The question is; how long will ant tolerate being taken advantage of?

Today the question in the street is “Will Greece still be part of Euro Zone?” However, my boss asked me a different question “Will Germany continue to be part of the Euro Zone?” His rationale is simple: There is a limit of how much the strong can sacrifice for the sake of his friends and family? After a while they will be forced to pack their bags and go elsewhere. When the companies decide to downsize it is usually the strongest who take the first leap. The weak and incompetent understand that status quo is good for them. Hence they will put up unions, trade barriers, contract clauses and what not.

No doubt every member of the euro zone benefits from the integration. Common currency & free movement of people and trade has greatly benefited Europe as a whole. Since the great depression, Germans have been strongest advocates of common currency & free trade across continental Europe. However in any partnership there are some who get more than they invest and some who don’t. Most of the times, we accept that thinking we are better off through a partnership. However for how long?

Greece, Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal all seek assistance from the Europe central bank. Shutting down the banks & ATM is Greece is a good negotiating tactic. By showing weakness, they are able to get huge public sympathy. It is hard to negotiate or dictate terms on someone on the verge of starvation after all. The current level of debt will take two generations or more to repay. Hence restructuring & extension in the principal payment timelines is only procrastinates the problem and not solving it. Write-off is a more permanent solution. However it comes at a considerable expense to the rest of the group. Can countries perpetually continue to sacrifice their self-interest in the name of cohesion? Rewarding bad behavior and fiducially over-indulgent spending will only encourage it more?

I find Euro as an interesting experiment as it allows me to observe India closely. At the time of Independence India had over 300 different princely states, over 3 dozen of different languages and scripts, countless dialects and religions and cultures. Through an iron fist the country was forced to be united under a single umbrella currency & government. Euro unification is happening slower & with consent and this experiment is giving some unique insights. India too has states that are mismanaged and in perpetual debt. GDP deficit at the state level is in double % digits and many states are a perpetual drain to the exchequer. Whatever happens to Euro might as well happen to India. Interestingly Euro, like India does not have an exit policy.

Abusive relationship

Most people are looking for a loving and caring equal. Someone who not only understands them but complements them and make them feel whole. While an abuser is dreaming of having a woman that meets all of his needs, is beautiful at all times of day and night, has no needs of her own and is in awe of his brilliance and charm. He desires a woman who will cater to him and never complain about anything he does or darken his day with frustrations or unhappiness about her own life. Although abuse of a woman is not the goal, control certainly is. He then finds himself using abuse to gain the control he feels he has the right to. In short the need is there to have a doormat, a fixture in the wall, a trophy wife, the needs, desires and sometimes even the life of the person is of no consequence.

Abuser is not a monster; they are dark individuals that take pleasure in manipulating others often for no reason whatsoever. Some even hide behind religion, cultural notions of male role model, breadwinner or guilt of their spouses to feed their dark fantasies. Many of them were bullied or made feel inadequate repeatedly during their early development and oppressing is their way of coming back. By the time they grow up, the boiling unmet needs and wrong role models send them into an automatic mode. No wonder such men are usually very possessive and jealous. You are not treated as a fellow human but as a collectable, a property that they own. I am OK with pain, hardship or not getting what one deserves, but being subjected to ridicule and cruelty for no reason confuses me.

Many of them will pamper you, shower with gifts and generosities to the extent that it will make you feel uncomfortable. Just like a lamb is fattened before slaughter, you are being made to feel obliged to comply in whatever unreasonable demands that follows. Some will encourage you to share their past, any mistakes ones has done or things you are ashamed of. They give you a false sense of comfort to share, but unlike a life-partner they will use it against you. They will feed off your vulnerability, manipulate you and sometimes even force you to do things that cause you to lose any iota of self-respect and dignity you have left. A sense of obligation & guilt trap are two tools whose net you will never be able to break free from. You would be made aware and conscious of any defects in your hair, body, breasts, height or any other deficiencies that they find to kill your self-confidence away. There is a lot of damage a partner can do without ever getting verbal or physical and they will exploit every trick in the book.

Nothing will ever be their fault. They might have a string of past relationship, but all of them only would leave them bitterer than before. They have not learned anything from them, and yet demand you to worship them as god’s gift to mankind. You will be repeatedly reminded of your deficiencies or aging, but the same rule does not apply to them. Sometimes when valid reasons or pretext are exhausted, you would be made accountable for their failings in professional life and in the society. Most abusers are jealous, insecure and possessive. They will try to limit your contact with the outside word and might hit you if someone else even smiles at you.

Forget the sweet stuff that was said during the courtship, the only escape to the harsh realities of the day would be when visiting guest. He will be sweetest and most caring person in the world. This is done only to discredit you if you ever complained. All the people will think see how caring, rich & successful he is. Look at the expensive jewelry, gifts, exotic vacations he has showered you with. Nobody will believe that you are used as a mere sex doll. Required, forced or even raped into giving a fellatio and analingus at the snap of his fingertips. After the act, you are expected to curl up into a ball and disappear in a closet of something. A lot of mental conditioning

Forget the words like consensual or willingly. In a relationship we often give a lot of power and control to our partners. Some can misuse this power to harm you or even brainwash you into losing your self-respect. The question one needs to ask is: “Are you better off without him?” A healthy relationship allows the partners to share their thoughts and desires freely without the fear of being judged or ridiculed publicly. They prosper mentally, emotionally and physically during their partnership rather than taking pleasure on degrading, ridiculing, manipulating & controlling their partners. You will never develop the same level of trust with a self-centered pompous ass.

It is very hard to walk away from an abusive relationship. Some people equate walking away as writing off all the years they have invested in the relationship. They don’t realize that that time is past and will only give him more ammunition to tighten his fist around your throat. The fear of what friends, family and society will say only makes you more committed in hoping that he will see err in his means and turn into a new leaf. Such miraculous transformations happen more often in fiction. Things are worse if you have kids, joint property or social/family obligations to consider before you take a decision. However as Lord Shiva says, we need to unshackle ourselves from the legacy, the waste and corruption before we can take rebirth as new.

Coping with Guilt

It is easy to be guilt ridden and get into a self-destructive path. Even the idea & thought is as dangerous as the action itself. All I can say is that it is important for you to let go of the past. Our mind has a unique good & evil counter to ensure a balance. After every incident of evil or action that we are ashamed of, we try to commit a good to balance it out. Similarly after every good achievement, we like to treat our senses with an indulgence.

Most people go for the amnesia pill/drugs/alcohol; they remove all traces and forget it ever happened. Guilt is a monster that one can sweep below the rug but its ugly head will sabotage you in the future. Denying the existence only makes the demon stronger. Some people become religious & penance to cleanse themselves. In fact the purpose of religion is to give us mere mortal a tool to get rid of the clutter in our conscience and justify/rationalize some of our actions. Some people look for a distraction to keep them occupied and prevent their minds going astray. Some go for confession to come clean. I have known people going for kids and bury themselves with additional responsibilities so that there is no free time to morn. Others make sacrifices or give generous donations to cleanse their souls.

One is free to choose the coping mechanism that works for them as long they have been able to let go. I have seen relationships actually strengthen after an incident. People become more mature, take responsibility for their action. You can become more focused and if channelized properly you can use that past incident to get rid of whatever baggage you want to shed.

One unhealthy way is to rationalize their actions. It could be as simple as saying, “yeh to sab karte hai!” (everybody does that), or cite the celebrity/much revered person. Sometimes we rationalize our situation, often creating semi-fictitious restriction/problems/situations/dilemma which over-exaggerates the pros-cons of the options we had and try to get a moral sympathy. It is equivalent to create an external locus of control, where we are trying to justify our existence as mere puppets whose hands were tied. The worst kind of rationalization is to deny the victim claim to be human and finding flaws in the victims. Slave owners could preach religion & morality while beating & burning their slaves because they felt the blacks were nothing more than livestock. Terrorist believe their victims are infidels and hence cannot be judged with the same sense of morality.

The problem with these methods is that they tend to change one’s perception of the world, and hence alter the character towards the dark side. Many of these rationalizations are irreversible and they lower our standards for morality. A girl might think a thousand times before her first time, but after that the next thousand times happen without batting an eye lid. Anybody can brainwash themselves or find a book/leader that could do it for you. The question is it what you want?

The way I see it, everyone has three choices, a) they can continue to be tormented by the demons of their past; b) accept them and work towards making amends and moving on; or c) drift towards the dark side by rationalize the past and making friends with these demons.

Starbucks vs Maggi

The media is ready to lynch Maggi & Nestle for selling contaminated/adulterated food. Few years back it was against Pepsi for selling pesticides, and before that for Cadbury’s dairy milk for worm infestation in the chocolates. What really surprises me is that all of these brands have recovered. They are still doing great amount of business and are part of a typical shopping cart.

All makes me wonder if the customer’s don’t care, should the manufacturers give a hoot about following quality standards? It is not a case of corruption or misinformation, because nobody is forcing citizens to buy these products and several alternatives do exist, it is a simple case of people valuing the long term implications of their dietary choices. Brand to me is a seal of trust, once broken cannot be restored.

Interestingly I could find a huge number of reputed brands in the list of products rejected by FSSAI.

http://www.fssai.gov.in/Portals/0/Pdf/Rejected_Files_Lists.pdf Tata Star bucks probably leads the pack with over two dozen products that were found unsafe. Even Kelloggs, Amway, Ranbaxy, Venky’s and several health supplements can be found in this list.

BDSM: I don’t get it

The raw and visual depiction in movies like 50 shades of grey or Secretary does celebrate and promote the strange lifestyle of BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism), but do they hold any merits?

Is BDSM a deviant or kink that occurs with a section of the society or is it a mental disorder? Is it a threat to the society? The difference being one is some idiosyncrasies that others (esp. your partner) can accommodate while some are illness that needs to be cured before they go out of hand.

Let me ask you a couple of questions:

  1. Psyche of aBDSM practitioner
    1. Would you like to be friends with anybody who likes to humiliate abuse or even torture fellow human beings for no grudge but pleasure?
    2. Will you trust a submissive that enjoys being kicked, verbally assaulted or worse on a regular basis?
    3. If your kid shows traits of being a Dom or Sub, will you not seek professional counsel?
  2. Safe and consensual
    1. Personal bias aside, there is a thin line between being brainwashed and consensual. Several charismatic cult leaders have steers their followers into mass suicide inside churches/synagogue. Many of them have steered into heinous crimes. Do you think BDSM is a safe haven for them to hone their skills?
    2. As a medical professional, law enforcer or a healthcare worker you discover spousal abuse, domestic violence or any odd behavior. Will your conscious allow the perpetuator to hide behind consensual cover?
    3. Take a reverse case, how will you prove the innocence of a dom whose sub (for vengeance or foolishness or simple play) recants on the consensual BDSM statement? How will you investigate the fact of the matter?
  3. Behind closed doors
    1. Voyeurism, exhibitionism, role play are favorite terms of a BDSM scene. This means that unwitting passerby often gets involved into the act. Are adequate precautions taken to protect a young mind in impressionable age?
    2. Wearing skimpy clothes, being treated as a pet/slave in public, open display of ownership marks (branding, tattoo, chains, collars etc.) is often not behind closed doors
    3. One of the leading banks in Amsterdam bank did fire a bank audit officer who moonshined as a Dominatrix. Their rationale was that leading a secret double life will expose the lady officer to blackmail or actions that compromises the integrality of her desk.
  4. Social cost
    1. Do you think government/NGO should cover the cost of treatment of medical injuries sustained during a session?
    2. Who should pay for the cost of rehabitation of someone who wants to move away from an abusive relationship?
    3. Should insurance cover the cost of treatment of a fire/amputation/mishap
  5. Sub rights
    1. Being pierced, forced into unsanitary actions, branded, tattooed and various other BDSM activities have a potential medical risk. The sub can be permanently scarred due to this.
    2. What is your recourse to a dominant who does not honor the safeword or pushes you too much?
    3. Who is responsible for the irrepairable damage due to food/water deprevation, confinement, no flow circulation due to prolonged bondage, not setting the voltage in electrical wand, tearing of tissues/genitialias
    4. No equation remains the same forever. Is the sub able to cope up with the separation/demise of the dom or power center of the relationship

A little bit of control, power games, fantasy is needed to spice up the relationship but excess of anything

The government has no business what happens behind closed doors between two consenting adults, but is the BDSM practice really compartmentalized that well?

weird vegetarian foods

The list of seafish being cooked alive, Kobe beef that lives a life comparable to a prince (before slaughter) or a fish so poisonous that only the chef that has been trained for 2 years is endless. but even veg foods are really weird. I am only listed ones that are considered as a delicacy in the developed world. If I add the African/tribal culture then the list is endless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durian (sister of Jackfruit) whose smell is compared to rotten onions, vomit, raw sewage, and sweaty gym socks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_sinensis (mushrooms that grow on caterpillars)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagotto_Romagnolo you have a dog breed that specializes in hunting truffle (a plant)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casu_marzu maggot cheese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak also called as cat poop coffee

I have known children who can go on and on about the Hotlix candy with a scorpion inside or Beanboozled vomit flavored jelly beans. Maybe these items are marked as delicacies and not food items that expired last yeear because each and every one comes with a unique story. I guess it is true: Men never group up. They are the same old weird boys but now with money to burn.