Wednesday, January 23, 2013

King of the barber’s shop

As he entered the salon for a shave, Pyarelal*, Bholenath*, and Sukharam* wished him, ‘Good morning sir’, ‘Good morning sir’, and ‘Good morning sir’. I couldn’t turn to see who is entering as I was having a haircut. All he uttered in reply to the barbers’ rapid fire Good mornings were, ‘mmmm’, ‘mmmm’, and ‘mmmm’.  He had a commanding, bass voice. After a quick shave, he offered to pay with another 'mmmm' but the barbers refused to accept the money. He said, ‘Hojaiga?’ and left. While paying for my haircut, I asked my barber, ‘who was he?’. By then, I was already thinking of writing this post. He asked his colleagues but none of them could give me any detail. I don't know if he was an important man or a munnabhai. he had a sidekick too. He was at least a very important man to the barbers. He was king of the barber’s shop this morning. 

*I don’t know any of their names.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Go to Oprah

If you have any dark secret and you want to let it out. If the world has misunderstood you and you want to clear things up. If you want a shoulder to cry on because your ex-gay partner turned out to be bisexual. If you are so happy and want to jump on the couch. Go to Oprah

Sunday, January 13, 2013

BMI machine

I have for long thought of constructing a Body Mass Index (BMI) machine and donating it to my former school. It’s no surprise that other people already have built it. There are coin-operated BMI machines (see photo). What I had envisaged is not an electronically operated machine. I was thinking more in the line of wood carpentry. There will be a weighing machine fitted to a stand to measure height. By the side will be an information board which will display the mathematical formula for calculating BMI and also information on what to do if BMI is not within normal limit. That’s it. Sadly, I am bad at drawing and can’t even post a picture of the concept. 
BMI is basically a measure to test if you are normal, too fat, or too thin for your height. It is calculated as weight (in kg) divided by square of height (in metres)
Simply put, BMI = kg/m2

Let’s not complicate things further. Simply use this online BMI calculator (click here). Insert the required information and click Calculate. The result will be automatically displayed. For example, if you are obese, it will give instructions on what you should do to lose weight. There are many BMI calculators online but I find this one to be good because you can insert your ethnicity, put in weight in kilogram instead of pound, and height in feet and inches instead of centimetre/metre (more suitable for Indian users).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Generous people are often not the rich

It was late Wednesday afternoon when I was returning to Kohima with sister after dropping my brother in college at Zubza. I was driving and I didn’t see them. I hardly see anything other than the road when driving. My sister saw them, two women who looked liked they need a ride home. We drove passed them by about 200 metres when we decided to turn back and ask if they need a ride. We picked them. They had gone to the field and were waiting for any bus or truck. They weren’t expecting smaller vehicles to stop for them. They are from Jotsoma village which may be about 15 kms from where we saw them. We couldn’t reach their village but they were very grateful that we could drop them at the check gate. From their bags, they gave us a huge bunch of bananas and a pumpkin. We refused. They insisted. There was a friendly physical fight. We didn’t want to take as they’d gone so far from the village and shouldn’t give away that much. But they pushed the car door and didn’t let me open it. Instead of helping them, we wondered if we’ve taken too much from them. After expressing gratitude and farewell to each other, we parted our ways. I have been worrying since then and wondering, ‘did they have any banana left for their families?’ I fear that they have given us everything. They had lots of pumpkins, but I didn’t see any other bananas than the big bunch they gave us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Don't Cry I Will Be Back

Have you ever dropped a loved one who is going on a long journey and felt like crying? You see him/her wave from the window and you already start to miss him/her. You feel the tears coming up your chest but you control yourself knowing you are an adult now. Then the bus leaves and you see the sign: 'DON'T CRY I WILL BE BACK'. kakakakaka. And a small baloon blows and explodes in your nose.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Handling social media

Sharing at Annual Youth Day, Chakhesang Mission Centre Church, Pfutsero, 29th December, 2012

Not for those who have been following this blog or reading my newspaper column. It is repetition......except that each time we speak on the same topic, it comes out a little different every time.

Many people have a love and hate relationship with facebook. But hate it or love it, or both, it has changed the way humans interact with humans. It has redefined the meaning of human relationship to a large extent. You can know so much about another person without having to meet face to face. You can know how she’s feeling today, what curry she had this morning, or what makes her angry, without having to ask. You may also project yourself to be a person who is very different from who you really are. You can manage what you want people to know about you and what you don’t want to show.

Here’s a song called ‘Online’ by Brad Paisley, a country singer


I work down at the pizza pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I'm 5'3 and overweight

I'm a Sci-Fi fanatic
Mild asthmatic
Never been to 2nd base
But there's a whole another me
That you need to see
Go check out MySpace

'cause online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6'5 and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I'm a black belt in Karate
And I love a good glass of wine

It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell 'em I don't want nothing serious
'cause even on a slow day I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

I get home, I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack
I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up my Mac

In real life the only time I
Ever even been to L.A.
Was when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade.

Online I live in Malibu
I posed for Calvin Kline, I've been in GQ
I'm single and I'm rich
And I got a set of six pack abs that'll blow your mind

It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell 'em I don't want nothing serious
'cause even on a slow day I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online

When you got my kinda stats, it's hard to get a date
Let alone a real girlfriend
But I grow another foot
And I lose a bunch of weight everytime I log in

Online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6'5 and I look damn good
Even on a slow day, I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online

So, what you project to be you, online; or what you see in other people, online; may be very different from reality. Even if you say you have made a lot of friends in facebook, such online friends can be truly called ‘friends’ only if the meaning of friendship is reduced. Because real friendship involves all the complexities and weirdness that we experience in each other through genuine human interactions. The idea of friendship gets reduced if interaction is all through database-filtered social networks.

Facebook is not a substitute for genuine human relationships. But keeping this in mind, online social network is a wonderful tool to stay connected with old friends and potential to build new ones. It is a store house of information where you can learn so much about people and the world. It is a supersonic superhighway of information travel that makes newspapers and telephones look ancient. The amount of information that is passed everyday is mind boggling. Online social media provides a wonderful platform for discussion and debate on all issues and to build social awareness. It has the potential to spark a social revolution and change the society positively.

Like any other technology, you can either use online social networking for your good or let it spoil your lives. The Television was considered as an evil technology. It was also called the idiot box. Children get exposed to stuffs that are fit only for adults. Family time gets disturbed as everyone sit fixated towards the TV screen during dinner time. But if rightly used, it is a very useful source of information and entertainment. Mobile phone has become an indispensable extension of the human body. But it can also be a real nuisance and disturbance if you do not know how to use it in a civilized manner. And so is facebook. You can either use it for your good, or like a train going off-track, it can derail your life.

Let me flag some concerns; sound some alerts; and suggest how we should handle social networking site like facebook. It is not be exclusively for facebook, but will be relevant for the internet in the broader sense.

Self-respect, dignity, and self-worth

We should not derive our sense of worth, value, respect, or identity from the information we post in our facebook profiles and status updates. As a human being created in the image of the almighty God, we are so much more than what our profile information says. Life is so much more than facebook.

Everybody wants to be liked and poked (to use facebook lingo). It is a genuine human feeling to want to be loved. But in celebrity culture that has saturated our world; everybody wants to be stars and celebrities. We do all it takes to become a celebrity that we are even willing to sacrifice our dignity and self respect. To become popular has become the ultimate goal. Although popularity in itself is not a bad thing, the popularity culture that we live in is making our lives cheap and superficial. The value system is turned upside down so that things which are of lasting value are pushed aside for the non-sensical and the meaningless. There is a story of some boys who broke into a shop, not to steal but to play a prank. The boys changed the price tags of all the items. Next morning, people found that the things that should cost a lot of money were priced a few pennies and cheap stuffs were tagged with heavy prices. That is what the devil has done to our society. The price tags are all changed when we were sleeping. Being popular is valued while maintaining personal integrity is not that valued.
Are we becoming addicted to nonsense? Let us ask ourselves.

Amount of time spent online

If we spend too much time online, we are going to get less time to read, sit quietly and reflect. I’m not a student anymore. I thank God that facebook was born after I finished college. But many of you are in college. How many of us know how to balance our time between studies and facebook? The appeal of facebook is that unlike other internet sites you get to see new things every time you log in. So, you can stay online the whole day and not be bored and not know how much time you’ve wasted. Only when you look back and count the hours will you remember and regret. We do not have a reading culture and we read only to pass exams and get a job. But the little time that we used to read comic books and magazines are now spent in facebook. We must make personal decisions and routines to balance our lives.

Security/privacy concern

Thirty years from now, you plan to contest in the general election in the 16th Pfutsero constituency. Within 24 hours, your opponent will dig out your history to find any loose statement that you made in your facebook status update and use it against you. That day may come. It wasn’t facebook but a similar thing occurred to Mitt Romney. A racist comment he made when he was 15 years old was dug out during the last presidential election. We post far too much very personal information online. We do not realize that we may be doing so at the danger of our own future and family. People fear that all the personal information we post online are being gathered for various reasons. One is for business reasons. Market research studies our likes and dislikes in order to design market products that will suit our tastes. But also there are thieves, stalkers, child molesters, etc. who can use information we post online.

Issue of reflective thinking

Google is a great help on almost any topic under the sun. There are whole libraries, books, documents, articles, and news online that we must learn how to explore the internet. But even though Google can provide you the information, it cannot do the thinking for you. Google is no substitute for thinking. We need to carefully study and analyse the information that we get online. Anyone can post anything online anonymously. So, not all that you get online is reliable. Facebook sometimes can be like a huge garbage dump of information. So, we should not switch off our minds but be critically alert of what to ignore and what to take in. Fun is good, but we should not be taken for a ride or made a fool of ourselves.

As the Bible says, Let us carefully examine how we live our lives, not as fools, but wisely because the days are evil. I don’t mean that we all become Ph. Ds or that we lead boring lives so afraid to make a mistake. Let us not live in yesterday’s regrets or in tomorrow’s worries, but let us enjoy living in the moment. And let us take time off to reflect on how we should live, learning how to lead a balanced life and not be carried away by times, like a leave blown by the wind.