Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Some have it very easy in life: They are mostly attractive

This Halo effect

A century ago, Edward Lee Thorndike realized that “A single quality or characteristic (beauty, social stature, height…) produces a positive or negative impression that outshine everything else, and the overall effect is disproportionate”

Attractive people have it relatively easy in their professional life and even get better grades from teachers who are affected by the hallo.

Attractive people gets more frequent second chance in life and are believed more frequently than ordinary people.

They get away with many “disappointing” behaviors and performances.

One need not be racist, sexist, chauvinist… to feel victim of this subconscious unjust stereotype.

Otherwise, how can teenagers fall in love and marry quickly?

I have watched many documentaries on the matting processes among animals.

And it was not automatic that the male who danced better, had a louder booming voice, nicer feathers… that won over the females.

Apparently, female animals have additional finer senses to select the appropriate mate.

Have you ever wondered why CEO’s are mostly attractive, tall, with a full chuck of hairs?

Probably because the less attractive are not deemed appropriate for the media?

He said, what I heard, what he might have meant...

Another of those summary tables in communication between genders.

Do you have a similar table where the roles are reversed? She said, he heard…?

I doubt it: Males are Not into that kind of complicated interpretations. They prefer dealing with taxonomy tables related to anything but the emotional kinds.

Mouth mush intelligence?

I’ll give you some examples of this phenomenon in my life with a table.

What He Said

What I Heard

What He Meant

You didn’t even tell me you were graduating cum laude today; that’s great. Why wasn’t it summa cum laude?” my Dad Hehe. Summa cum. Latin is dirty. You should have worked harder. A stunning display of mediocre effort. That’s really going to impress someone considering you for a job. I’m proud of you, but I know you are smart enough to have graduated with highest honors.
Slap! (On the butt while I was picking up toys on Valentine’s Day, 5 months postpartum). “Your ass is getting smaller!” my husband I find you disgusting. Keep working on it. You are losing weight and I’m attracted to you right now. Let’s get naked.
You can’t be a slave to your kid’s schedule. They need to fit into your life.” my oldest brother You really let your niece down by not coming to her cheerleading competition. Your baby is no excuse. Don’t miss out on important events in your niece’s life because of a nap schedule.
When you wear your hair down, it makes you look 10 pounds lighter instantly.” my step-Dad The way you wear your hair every day makes you look fat. Your hair looks good down. Until it turns into a squirrel tail when it dries.
“When have you ever killed a spider in this house?” my husband You don’t read my blog much and I try not to get my feelings hurt about that because I understand, but when you do this random comment is the one you’re focused on, and you’re calling me a liar? I kill them when you aren’t here. Good enough? I’m joking about spiders. Yes, I hate them, but you don’t kill them for me while I stand on a table. Can I have my balls back?

I won’t go into much more detail, I think these examples are enough for you to relate to them, and hopefully add your own in the comments section.

 

The Orient Queen was capsized during Beirut port conflagration: My cruise experience

Note: I had posted my experience on the Orient Queen for 3 days cruise to Alanya (Turkey) last September 2019. I expected a good vacation for a dream since it was my first travel by sea.

Actually, the Orient Queen is the only sea ship from all Lebanon ports. If you want to catch a luxury cruise, you need to travel by air to where the cruise is launched. Sounds like a monopoly in this mafia plagued State.

This ship was parked by pier 9, very close to pier 12 where the conflagration originated, and it was Not the regular place to stay until the summer season.  Many crews dove into the sea  during the first explosion. Three crews died and many injured.

I read an ad for 2 cruises to Cyprus on the last week of September. Since I have never been to any sea cruise, I decided to try one, and experience a “5 star hotel on the sea” and check if I get seasick.

It turned out you need paperwork to submit to a visa that cost $60 for a 7-hour landing. It was Not my cup of tea, since I have already visited Cyprus before and I didn’t like it that much. (It was during Christmas and Larnaka seemed empty and the hotel to be desired)

Fortunately, the Orient Queen was also going to Turkey (Alanya city) for a 3-day cruise and No visa required, and that clenched the deal.

Sure, as I am single on that cruise I had to caught up $100 more for a room (a total of $450). And I was allocated a room on deck 6, instead of the underground deck 4, where many felt seasick. And with a western-side window that looks on just the vast sea.

The climbing on the cruise was facilitated by the security services and it was quick (should I be suspicious of any wrongdoing?)

Well, the cruise aligned half a dozen girls in Brazilian attire. I can’t remember that I saw them again or if they danced in an event that I failed to attend. In any case, here they were lined up with the Captain for the farewell of the port of Beirut.

The food service was done by Egyptian males (sofraji). The front desk was catered by Egyptian males. The casino was handled by a Russian girl and 2 Ukrainian girls. The bars were attended by Indonesians. My section for room service was allocated to a Ukrainian girl and an Indonesian male.

Our passports were hoarded, and when I read in my room that the passport will Not be returned until our room service was paid at the end of the cruise, I got furious.

I recalled all these facts and stories of foreign workers in the Gulf and Saudi Kingdom, and house maid in Lebanon for keeping passport.

And then someone offered me a convincing reason: it is all about Schengen procedure so that no customer will jump ship when landing in Turkey and getting lost.

Though this reason is very convincing, my gut feeling is that the higher echelons in management have a mean spirited streak of humiliating their clients, by anyway they possess. Apparently, a routine they “nailed down” since 2005.

And this gut feeling was supported by the many successive indignities we suffered throughout the experience, this feeling of trying to “milk the ant” for any profit margin that the management was ordered to cash in.

My first decision was to tour the facilities of the ship.

I located a miniature, a hole of (5 by 3 meter) swimming pool. I discarded this fact, wishing to find another larger swimming pool. That’s was it, and had to deal with, and all my expectations went downhill since then, and nothing elevated my spirit, no matter how I tried for positive attitudes.

There were 2 sizable Jacuzzi at the other end (tribor, babor, babour…), each welcoming 4 persons and pretty good.

At lunch, I was allocated a table for 5 persons, older people and none with wives on board, and for the entire duration. These persons spent their time in the casino, nothing else for them to waste time on. One of them who patronized this cruise 5 years ago claimed the food was much better. These guys can sense the onset of seasickness and take the appropriate pill.

I told them that I was allocated a cabin with a window on deck 6 because I was found funny. One of them tersely replied: “all cabins on deck 6 have windows”.

I cannot recollect having looked out the window more than twice for a few seconds, but the cabin was flooded with natural light in the afternoon, a great setting for leisurely reading in a cool place, though I was denied that luxury the last day, since we were ordered to vacate the cabin at 3 pm.

Once, as I made friends and they invited me to join them at their table, the server said: “Please, please“. Kind of not willing to serve an additional client.

Nevertheless, the Egyptians are fine waiters and quick funny. One of the elder on the table was dozing off, waiting for his desert, and the waiter said: “bjeblak battaniyeh?”

I realized that the liquor servers (serving anything liquid), allocated to particular set of tables, were meek and worried that any clients might get totally frustrated and brutal with them for “selling water“. Worst, tiny slices of breads were “counted” for each table: no way to demand more bread.

I distributed tips for these liquor servers without ordering anything, just to send them the message: “I feel with your predicament“. Actually, I learned to give tips before receiving the service: it works and performance follows.

In the afternoon, the nasty sound of the emergency alarm lasted for a long time. I told myself: “hopefully, they are Not going to make it a habit to test our readiness.” And then I heard persistent banging on my door. I was to get out and bring my life-jacket with me and join everybody in the restaurant of deck 6.

On the couch, a saw a scared beautiful young girl, her head all wrapped tight with several layers of veils, and looking at me as if I were a cruise pro. She asked me: “What is going on?”. I replied: “Probably, they are going to throw us overboard to test which safety jackets are still functional”. Her face turned grey and I resumed: “Maybe not now. They’ll go through the routine of describing the safety measures to take when the alarm sounds next time”. She was Not convinced.

Her roommate girl was pale and in a phased out attitude. She did bring her safety jacket but didn’t wear it. I said to her: “As for you, you failed the test. You didn’t wear the jacket. Probably, they’ll select you to throw overboard for punishment”. It turned out she was already feeling seasick.

Then followed a description of the various tours when we land on Alanya as taken from the photo on my mobile:

  1. Shopping tour, 4.5 hrs, at $15
  2.  Jeep Safari 4 hrs, at $35
  3. Shuttle to Cleopatra Beach, at $20
  4. paragliding experience 3 hrs at $90
  5. Diving experience 3 hrs at $70
  6. Turkish bath 3 hrs at $50
  7. Dolphin show 3 hrs at $40

Most of these activities I had in Sharm al Sheikh and the dolphin show I watched in Disneyland in Orlando. And I set my mind to subscribe to Cleopatra beach.

I asked the front desk for Internet connection on the ship. We had to pay $25 for our mere two days, another harsh let down from how this ship is run. It then that I met the seasick girl at front desk and she told me: “moush merta7a“.

The clerk brought her a piece of bread on a platter and said: “Since you vomited, you stomach is empty. eating this bread will improve your state”. I was doubtful because I surmised that eating is the nastiest activity for seasick people. I said: “On checking deck 8, I discovered a door marked “Hospital” and I may show her the way”. The clerk didn’t appreciate my joke.

I put to practice the navy gait, legs spread wide. I wondered “why they promote alcoholic drinks if people are unable to walk straight?”

In the evening I decided to do the best of what’s available and got dizzy swimming dozen of times, back and forth, the “lengths” of this miniature pool. People looked at me saying: “That’s a wonderful kid, enjoying himself by any means”

Once, I was smoking with a heavy smoker acquaintance on the deck of the pool and he said: “this is a nasty smell”. I said “you mean the smell of cigarette?” He replied: “No the burned smell of oil from the turbine exhaust of the ship”. It is then that I smelt it and from then on I spent my time on the other side of the ship, where everybody gathered as we were arriving to the port of Beirut.

Actually, it is on this side of the ship on the last hour that I attempted small chats with the gathered people and how they felt about this experience.

People pass-time was to set up arghili (hookah) around this swimming pool for $14.

The Orient Queen arranged for 5 buses to take the customers to various sites in Alanya, one of them to the “famous” Cleopatra beach where it is claimed that Cleopatra did swim long time ago. I have been told this beech stretches for a mile and the sand were imported from South Africa.

I thought of signing up for this trip, but the weather condition changed to rainy day, and I was happy I didn’t sign up (I would have lost my money, since there would be no refund).

I was also lucky Not to sign up on time for a meeting with the Captain on deck 7. One of my table companion told me that they take a group photo for $20 for the cruise promotion.

I was the last person to step out of the ship and had the lunch room all for myself.

An experienced woman attendant on front desk filled me with details: most of these sites can be reached cheaply by public transport, and most of them are actually at walking distance.

At 2 pm, I descended the ship and boarded a City Tour “train”, kind of a car remorking two children trains at 10 TL or less than $2.

This tour lasted 45 minutes and we passed the Cleopatra beech, the bazaar, the teleferic , and many adjacent main roads. Nothing to it. New ship acquaintances told me they borrowed bicycles and electric motto to tour the city.

Apparently, none of the groups were happy with their guides or the tours: they ended up taking taxis to return to the ship. And it poured cats and dogs for hours until 10 pm, and they arrived totally drenched.

Not only the “tourists” were drenched but the ship was “drenched and leaking” from everywhere.

The employees were exhausted collecting the leaks and disposing dozens of buckets. A few cabins were leaking too.

I had arrived at 4:30 and it was drizzling: I was tired of walking to the bazaar and buying unnecessary clothes to the female members of my clan: we have so many unworn clothes that are taking so much spaces in our closets and cannot get rid of them.

Suffice to say that I bought an “Alanya sherwal“, just because the lady was dynamic and wouldn’t desist from showing me what her shop held. And I laughing my heart out for her activities, she even shortened one of the 3abaya for mother.

That rainy day and night might have hurt the profit margin of the cruise, since no one could venture outside on the upper deck to “enjoy” an arghili or have a drink… Maybe this is one reason management forced on the customers an additional $10 for room service?

There were no outside exits to have a smoke, but I discovered an exit under a tiny shelter facing the pool. A good looking woman wearing one of the headgear, promoted by “Princess” Mozah of Qatar, wanted to displace the huge sound buffer from under the heavy rain, and the employees were afraid of being electrocuted if they touch the cable, but the cable was long enough to move the buffer under the shelter..

In hindsight, I observed 3 ladies wearing this kind of headgear, in white or black, and I conjectured that maybe a minority “Muslim” sect is using it overseas. Actually, one lady was very “classy” in her behavior, her attire and the soft way she eats and talk on her table. I conjectured that she might be a foreigner. And she turned out to be from Damascus and refused to talk but in “Arabic”, though she understood English and appreciated my compliment.

The day of our arrival to Beirut, we were ordered to vacate our cabins at 3 pm in order to prepare the room for the next trip on the same night.

Thus, we were left outside for 5 hours and we were denied swimming towels.

I met people at one of the Jacuzzi and they said it is “fresh water” (thus no need for me to take a shower afterward) and they told me to ask the front desk for towels. Not only the front desk does Not deliver anything, they don’t even carry small changes for tips.

But I hoarded a Jacuzzi all for myself for an hour and watched people sweating and totally bored.

I waited for the lines in front desk to dwindle, paying for their room service before getting their passport back.

The main sticky point was why charging $30 instead of $20 as stipulated in writing? One of the lady claimed that she has already paid upfront $30 for room service and she had to wait until this problem is resolved (the clerk said they had no direct commutation with headquarter in Beirut, and I assume the Captain is in charge of all decisions on board?)

I did my best in these long line to dissipate the accumulating anger and was trying to be calm and funny with Ibrahim. I even suggested to him whether I can bring him a sandwich for the long haul (as if this cruise has bread for sandwiches).

I met with my table companions around a table around 5 pm: the casino was closed and they had no idea what to do next. I ordered a large water bottle and a non-alcoholic beer. The barman said that I ordered the last beer and (may be the single such beer he received for his reserves). Actually, not a single bar on the ship ever admitted having beer sh3eer.

I will always be grateful for this barman for showing me the closest of WC, otherwise I would have been in big trouble, for the countless times I used it within 2 hours: beer and swimming keep me busy visiting WC.

Before leaving ship, I passed by the Free Market room to buy a few bottles. And it was closed: al jomrok came and closed it. Why we were Not warned of these khouza3balaat?

It was a mere 2 nights on the cruise and most of the “tourists” I talked to said they cannot count on them for a repeat.

I wonder how the “tourists” handled 7 days on this cruise, touring the Greek islands.

I conjecture that a few committed suicide at landing, out of total disgust: they quit Lebanon for an “honorable” vacation and they received the same kind of crap of indignities and humiliation as the Lebanese State extended to them in the last 3 decades.

Still I had my experiences being confined at sea and how people behave and spend their time, and what is available and what is delivered.

It is doubly satisfying since I executed my dream before the Covid pandemics set in, the total bankruptcy of the State of Lebanon, the scarcity of hard currencies, the inability/difficulties of travelling oversea,  and the instabilities we are experiencing.

Note 1: My note to Pamela , in my first reaction, was how I felt in this cruise:

Hola Pamela. I miss your smile. I wish you stayed in the cruise to observe and feel the indignities, frustration and humiliation of the clients and the service personnel.

I waited till the end of your last cruise to Cyprus to avoid you further exacerbation and headache from overseeing the last cruise.

I write reports of my experiences and impressions and post them on my blog adonis49@wordpress.com. If you care, I might send you a link, in due time.

Ya 3ammi, add upfront what it takes for standard room service charge (supposedly to repay the employees?), all you can drink water and eat bread, and swimming towels.

Ya 3ammi, add extra for non-alcoholic beverages, including non-alcoholic beer sha3eer and save the clients and the service personnel the hassle, the rebuke and humiliation in long waiting lines. And attach the appropriate bracelet around the wrist of clients.

What is the purpose of kicking us out of our cabin at 3 pm when the arrival time is estimated at 8 pm? And denying us swimming towels too? We pay for vacation and Not to submit to more frustration.

I will consider your explanations for my article, specifically what kinds of procedures you intend of “reforming” since 2005.

Note 2: My reply to the note of Hana Abu Mer3i, operating manager

Hi Hana: just quick few replies since I’ll be writing an exhaustive article on my experience on this cruise.

In the print it was said $20 service charge per person and not $30. A family of 4 had to caught up $40 additional charges.
I was practically kicked out of my cabin and was Not allowed to retake my swimming towel in order to spend a few hours waiting for arrival
The liquor service people meekly approach our tables at lunch and dinner, sort of worried that someone will pick up a tantrum for selling them water
I doubt that you ever reconsidered your procedures and  rules since 2005.
I was under the impression that there was an underlining mean spirited pleasure to humiliate these “ratesh” paying clients who do Not deserve an honorable and comfortable vacation
It was plainly a succession of various indignities and frustration that added up to a feeling of brutal behavior by the organizers.
In any case, the customer speaks louder: the dozen of clients I talked to were adamant that they will Not be repeat client to Abumer3i cruise.
At least the cabin was decent and plenty of hot water for showers

This myth that mystify: East vs. West?  Even Better, South vs. North

Depending on the context, depending on the outcome, choose your paradigm.

Both paradigms ( only one life or cyclical lives) are human constructions. 

They are cultural creations, not natural phenomena.

To understand the business of mythology and what a Chief Belief Officer is supposed to do, you have to hear a story of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god who is the scribe of storytellers, and his brother, the athletic warlord of the gods, Kartikeya.

The two brothers one day decided to go on a race, three times around the world. Kartikeya leapt on his peacock and flew around the continents and the mountains and the oceans. He went around once, he went around twice, he went around thrice.

But his brother, Ganesha, simply walked around his parents once, twice, thrice, and said, “I won.”

“How come?” said Kartikeya. And Ganesha said, “You went around ‘the world.’ I went around ‘my world.’”

What matters more?

Devdutt Pattanaik looks at business and modern life through the lens of mythology.
When he was Chief Belief Officer, he helped managers harness the power of myth to understand their employees, their companies and their customers.

He’s working to create a Retail Religion, to build deep, lasting ties between customers and brands.
 — the myths that mystify. ted.com|By Devdutt Pattanaik

If you understand the difference between ‘the world’ and ‘my world,’ you understand the difference between logos and mythos.

The world’ is objective, logical, universal, factual, scientific.  ‘The world’ tells us how the world functions, how the sun rises, how we are born.

My world’ is subjective. It’s emotional. It’s personal. It’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings, dreams. It is the belief system that we carry. It’s the myth that we live in. ‘My world’ tells us why the sun rises, why we were born. 

Every culture is trying to understand itself: Why do we exist?” And every culture comes up with its own understanding of life, its own customized version of mythology.

Culture is a reaction to nature, and this understanding of our ancestors is transmitted generation from generation in the form of stories, symbols and rituals, which are always indifferent to rationality.

When you study nature, you realize that different people of the world have a different understanding of the world. Different people see things differently — different viewpoints.

There is my world and there is your world, and my world is always better than your world, because my world, you see, is rational and yours is superstition. Yours is faith. Yours is illogical. This is the root of the clash of civilizations.

It took place in 326 B.C. on the banks of a river called the Indus, now in Pakistan. This river lends itself to India’s name. India. Indus.

Alexander, a young Macedonian, met there what he called a “gymnosophist,” which means “the naked, wise man.” We don’t know who he was. Perhaps he was a Jain monk, like Bahubali over here, the Gomateshwara Bahubali whose image is not far from Mysore. Or perhaps he was just a yogi who was sitting on a rock, staring at the sky and the sun and the moon.

Alexander asked, “What are you doing?” and the gymnosophist answered, “I’m experiencing nothingness.” Then the gymnosophist asked, “What are you doing?” and Alexander said, “I am conquering the world.”

And they both laughed. 

Each one thought that the other was a fool. The gymnosophist said, “Why is he conquering the world? It’s pointless.” And Alexander thought, “Why is he sitting around, doing nothing? What a waste of a life.”

To understand this difference in viewpoints, we have to understand the subjective truth of Alexander his myth, and the mythology that constructed it. 

Alexander’s mother, his parents, his teacher Aristotle told him the story of Homer’s “Iliad.” They told him of a great hero called Achilles, who, when he participated in battle, victory was assured, but when he withdrew from the battle, defeat was inevitable. 

“Achilles was a man who could shape history, a man of destiny, and this is what you should be, Alexander.” That’s what he heard.

 “What should you Not be? You should not be Sisyphus, who rolls a rock up a mountain all day only to find the boulder rolled down at night. Don’t live a life which is monotonous, mediocre, meaningless. Be spectacular! — like the Greek heroes, like Jason, who went across the sea with the Argonauts and fetched the Golden Fleece.

Be spectacular like Theseus, who entered the labyrinth and killed the bull-headed Minotaur. 

When you play in a race, win! — because when you win, the exhilaration of victory is the closest you will come to the ambrosia of the gods.”

The Greeks believed you live only once, and when you die, you have to cross the River Styx. And if you have lived an extraordinary life, you will be welcomed to Elysium, or what the French call “Champs-Élysées”, the heaven of the heroes.

But these are not the stories that the gymnosophist heard. He heard a very different story. 

He heard of a man called Bharat, after whom India is called Bhārata. Bharat also conquered the world. And then he went to the top-most peak of the greatest mountain of the center of the world called Meru. And he wanted to hoist his flag to say, I was here first.”

When he reached the mountain peak, he found the peak covered with countless flags of world-conquerors before him, each one claiming “‘I was here first’ … that’s what I thought until I came here.” And suddenly, in this canvas of infinity, Bharat felt insignificant. This was the mythology of the gymnosophist.

Bharat had heroes, like Ram — Raghupati Ram and Krishna, Govinda Hari. But they were not two characters on two different adventures. They were two lifetimes of the same hero.

When the Ramayana ends the Mahabharata begins. When Ram dies, Krishna is born. When Krishna dies, eventually he will be back as Ram.

The Indians also had a river that separates the land of the living from the land of the dead. But you don’t cross it once. You go to and fro endlessly. It was called the Vaitarani. You go again and again and again.

Nothing lasts forever in India, not even death. 

And so, you have these grand rituals where great images of mother goddesses are built and worshiped for 10 days … And what do you do at the end of 10 days? You dunk it in the river. Because it has to end. And next year, she will come back.

What goes around always comes around, and this rule applies not just to man, but also the gods. (But at a lesser energy and power? Like entropy?)

Even the gods have to come back again and again as Ram, as Krishna. Not only do they live infinite lives, but the same life is lived infinite times till you get to the point of it all. “Groundhog Day.” (Laughter)

Two different mythologies. Which is right? Two different mythologies, two different ways of looking at the world.

One linear, one cyclical. One believes this is the one and only life. The other believes this is one of many lives.

The denominator of Alexander’s life was one. So, the value of his life was the sum total of his achievements. 

The denominator of the gymnosophist life was infinity. So, no matter what he did, it was always zero. 

And I believe it is this mythological paradigm that inspired Indian mathematicians to discover the number zero. Who knows?

That brings us to the mythology of business.

If Alexander’s belief influenced his behavior, if the gymnosophist belief influences his behavior, then it was bound to influence the business they were in. 

What is business but the result of how the market behaves and how the organization behaves?

And if you look at cultures around the world, all you have to do is understand the mythology and you will see how they behave and how they do business.

Take a look. If you live only once, in one-life cultures around the world, you will see an obsession with binary logic, absolute truth, standardization, absoluteness, linear patterns in design.

But if you look at cultures which have cyclical and based on infinite lives, you will see a comfort with fuzzy logic, with opinion, with contextual thinking, with everything is relative, sort of mostly. (And what is the mythology of the Chinese? Are they bound to conquer the world as the US evangelists has been doing?)

You look at art. Look at the ballerina, how linear she is in her performance. And then look at the Indian classical dancer, the Kuchipudi dancer, the Bharatanatyam dancer, curvaceous. (Laughter)

And then look at business. Standard business model: vision, mission, values, processes. Sounds very much like the journey through the wilderness to the promised land, with the commandments held by the leader. And if you comply, you will go to heaven.

In India there is no “the promised land”. There are many promised lands, depending on your station in society, depending on your stage of life. You see, businesses are not run as institutions, by the idiosyncrasies of individuals. It’s always about taste. It’s always about my taste. (Is it still true in capitalist India?) 

Indian music, for example, does not have the concept of harmony. There is no orchestra conductor. There is one performer standing there, and everybody follows. 

And you can never replicate that performance twice. It is not about documentation and contract. It’s about conversation and faith. 

It’s not about compliance. It’s about setting, getting the job done, by bending or breaking the rules — just look at your Indian people around here, you’ll see them smile; they know what it is. (Laughter) And then look at people who have done business in India, you’ll see the exasperation on their faces.

This is what India is today.

The ground reality is based on a cyclical worldview. So, it’s rapidly changing, highly diverse, chaotic, ambiguous, unpredictable. And people are okay with it. 

And then globalization is taking place. The demands of modern institutional thinking is coming in. Which is rooted in one-life culture. And a clash is going to take place, like on the banks of the Indus. It is bound to happen.

I have personally experienced it.

I’m trained as a medical doctor. I did not want to study surgery. Don’t ask me why. I love mythology too much. I wanted to learn mythology. But there is nowhere you can study. So, I had to teach it to myself. And mythology does not pay, well, until now.

I had to take up a job. And I worked in the pharma industry. And I worked in the healthcare industry. And I worked as a marketing guy, and a sales guy, and a knowledge guy, and a content guy, and a training guy. 

I even was a business consultant, doing strategies and tactics. And I would see the exasperation between my American and European colleagues, when they were dealing with India.

Example: Please tell us the process to invoice hospitals. Step A. Step B. Step C. Mostly. (Laughter) How do you parameterize “mostly”? How do you put it in a nice little software? You can’t.

I would give my viewpoints to people. But nobody was interested in listening to it, you see, until I met Kishore Biyani of the Future group. he has established the largest retail chain, called Big Bazaar.

And there are more than 200 formats, across 50 cities and towns of India. 

And he was dealing with diverse and dynamic markets. And he knew very intuitively, that best practices, developed in Japan and China and Europe and America will not work in India.

 He knew that institutional thinking doesn’t work in India. Individual thinking does. He had an intuitive understanding of the mythic structure of India.

So, he had asked me to be the Chief Belief Officer, and said, “All I want to do is align belief.” 

Sounds so simple. But belief is not measurable. You can’t measure it. You can’t manage it. So, how do you construct belief? How do you enhance the sensitivity of people to Indian-ness. Even if you are Indian, it is not very explicit, it is not very obvious.

I tried to work on the standard model of culture, which is, develop stories, symbols and rituals. And I will share one of the rituals with you.  it is based on the Hindu ritual of Darshan.

Hindus don’t have the concept of commandments. 

So, there is nothing right or wrong in what you do in life. (And the judicial system?)

So, you’re not really sure how you stand in front of God. when you go to the temple, all you seek is an audience with God. You want to see God. And you want God to see you, and hence the gods have very large eyes, large unblinking eyes, sometimes made of silver, so they look at you.

Because you don’t know whether you’re right or wrong, and so all you seek is divine empathy. “Just know where I came from, why I did the Jugaad.” (Laughter) “Why did I do the setting, why I don’t care for the processes. Just understand me, please.”

Based on this, we created a ritual for leaders. 

After a leader completes his training and is about to take over the store, we blindfold him, we surround him with the stakeholders, the customer, his family, his team, his boss. You read out his KRA, his KPI, you give him the keys, and then you remove the blindfold.

And invariably, you see a tear, because the penny has dropped. He realizes that to succeed, he does not have to be a “professional,” he does not have to cut out his emotions, he has to include all these people in his world to succeed, to make them happy, to make the boss happy, to make everyone happy.

The customer is happy, because the customer is God.

That sensitivity is what we need. Once this belief enters, behavior will happen, business will happen. And it has. 

So, then we come back to Alexander and to the gymnosophist. And everybody asks me, “Which is the better way, this way or that way?”

And it’s a very dangerous question, because it leads you to the path of fundamentalism and violence. So, I will not answer the question. What I will give you is an Indian answer, the Indian head-shake.

Depending on the context, depending on the outcome, choose your paradigm.

And so the next time you meet someone, a stranger, one request: Understand that you live in the subjective truth, and so does he. Understand it. 

And when you understand it you will discover something spectacular. You will discover that within infinite myths lies the eternal truth. 

Who sees it all? Varuna has but a thousand eyes. Indra, a hundred. You and I, only two. Thank you. Namaste.

Clown me in. Clown without border. In devastated Mar Mkhayel in Beirut

This is Mar Mkhayel area where most of the bars, restaurants and beautiful old houses/ buildings got completely destroyed.

After a parade that was positively welcomed by the many workers fixing houses, NGO people sitting on the side of the roads assisting people and by the few locals who didn’t leave their homes ( with the exception of one guy who was fixing his shop and who looked at us with a terrible facial expression and said: “are you really seriously happy and festive? “

We ended up performing here ( pic below)

To my left there’s one of the few still standing pubs on the side of the road.

To my right there’s the Main Street with a lot of destruction everywhere and a “listening station” where an NGO has its psychologists waiting to listen to people who want to talk.

Behind me there was this 45 year old big tall man, who was watching quietly and crying.

At the end he approached us, asked us how long we have been rehearsing and preparing this. He said it was the most beautiful thing he’d seen since the explosion And a much needed thing.

He decided to follow us the following day and watch the show again in a different area

In front of me, hidden behind the audience was this woman in her 40s who was sitting with a psychologist and talking.

When we went into the bus to leave, the psy ran and asked me to come down and take a pic with the woman. “You made her day” she said, and she “wanted to take a picture to keep remembering this precious moment”.

I wouldn’t give the artistic side of our show a 5 star review but what we offer is silly, is fun and most importantly it’s real, it’s all about connection, love and laughter.

We, adults, need it more than anyone else.

We forgot how to play, how to be joyful.

We have gone through a lot and we need to learn how to connect with each other again and mostly we need to rebuild better memories.

Hurray to this man and to this lady who were open enough to connect, to appreciate the moment and to rebuild memories
#diariesofaclown Clown Me In Payasos Sin Fronteras / Pallassos Sense Fronteres / Clowns Without Borders Hisham A. Assaad Ghalya Saab Stephanie Sotiry Sally Souraya Samer Sarkis Feras Hatem

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

Trembling in Stupor

Stupeur et tremblements by Amelie Nothomb,  (Book review, October 30, 2008)

French author Amelie Nothomb, in her fantastic book of 189 pages “Stupeur et tremblements“, describes her experiences for an entire year at the Japanese Import/Export large company of Yumimoto in 1990.

The title was extracted from the behavior and acting of any Japanese in the presence of the Emperor.

The entire story is mostly a long series of stupor and quavering by the Japanese employees in front of their superiors, and how they dealt with the culture of a western girl.

As I recall, Amelie was born in Japan when her dad was the Belgian Consul.  She loved her first 5 years there, and felt that Japan was her homeland, after so many transfers to other countries.

Amelie returned to Japan with fresh recollections of her sweet and unforgettable years there as a child.  Amelie will discover at her expense that she was not to exhibit in business meetings, with other friendly Japanese companies, as she masters the Japanese language!

Amelie had a life after her 10-hour work day, but she decided to focus her autobiography of that year on the enterprise.

Nothomb described in details the strict hierarchical structure of the company, its unwritten rules, the behavior of the employees, and the status of women in society.

With or without a contract, an employee at that period was not expected to be fired.

The initiative for leaving a company was left to the employee who would have to meet personally with each boss in the higher levels in the hierarchy and present his resignation.

A sample of the verbal resignation should be stated: Amelie memorized the formal sentence for resignation:

“We are at the end of term of my contract and I would like to announce to you my regret for not being able to renew it.  The company of Yumimoto offered me multiple occasions to prove my potentials.  I will be eternally grateful. Unfortunately, I could not satisfy the expectation of the honor accorded to me.”

It is unheard of that an employee could take the initiative without the permission of his immediate boss or even complains to a higher level.

In general, the higher levels would refrain from undercutting the responsibilities of the immediate boss, although they could and had the total right to curse, lambasted and humiliate any lower level employee in front of all the employees for no specific reasons.

The cadre was not permitted to defend himself or speak. All that he should be doing is to lower his head and show respect until the verbal storm is over.

For example, Mori Fubuki, a most beautiful and classy lady of 29, boss of Amelie, was subject of such a scene.  Mori hurried to the toilet to cry her eyes out and Amelie followed her to express her compassion as western custom is preponderant.

Mori was greatly furious that Amelie dared to see her crying and she vowed to humiliate her at the extreme.  Fubuki thus decided to relegate Amelie to cleaning the toilets for seven months at the 44th floor of the building or the accounting department.

Fubuki selected the boring task of classifying receipts by company names and ordering them by date of receipt to punish Amelie.  Amelie ordered the names of the German companies called GMBH in one file on account that any additional prefix can only mean to be an affiliate to GMBH. It turned out that GMBH stands for Ltd in German.  The accounting cadre laughed very hard and every employee shared in the merriment.  Fubuki was humiliated because Amelie was her responsibility.

Fubuki then endeavored to find a task for Amelie that does not require “intelligence”.

Amelie was assigned to verify the accounting of business charge trips.  The genius of Amelie was that for an entire month, not a single number matched!

Calculating and accounting was the worst job that could be asked of her.  Fubuki knew that Amelie will never finish the job, but she waited patiently for Amelie to concede defeat.

The way I see it, the President of the company (not necessarily the owner) should be considered as God. As such, he should be handsome, tall, soft-spoken, and no one except the Vice-President is permitted to visit him or a cadre he summons to see.

The job of the Vice-President is to play Bad Cop; as such, he should look ugly, an ogre, and should be trained to curse, and his powerful voice should transmit far away. Basically, the Vice-President is to keep all cadres to their proper place in the hierarchy and remind them that no one is above the unwritten rules.

Once, Amelie took the initiative of aiding a cadre from another section without asking permission of Fubuki.  Fubuki wrote a complaint to Omochi and the cadre, and Amelie had a thorough wash down.  Fubuki would not allow a new comer to be promoted quickly when she had to suffer for 10 years to get her present promotion.

Nothomb explains why the Japanese society comprehends and admit crazy people in their company: this authoritarian society, with strictly controlled morals at work and in families, has a high rate of males cracking down and losing it.

The women are more controlled than men in society, but they manage not to reach the act of committing suicide, an act viewed within society as the ultimate in honor for a woman.  May be the only honorable decision that a woman can make beside marrying before the age of 25.

Working and breeding are the only tasks for a woman:  she should not expect much in promotion or eccentricity or compliments.

Children are treated as God till the age of three; from 3 to 18 they are sent to schools with “military” discipline. From 18 to 25, offspring have the only break in their lives to be free in university settings; then, they are back to concentration camps in their enterprises and strict duties and responsibilities to their institutions.

The Japanese fathers have an inkling of giving infinitive verbs for names to their boys such as “Work”; whereas females receive poetic names such as “Snow”, Rain”, or “Flower”.

Here is a list of prescriptions that women have to follow to the letters:

  1. If you are not married by the age of 25, then you have good reasons to be ashamed.
  2. If you laugh, you will not be considered distinguished.
  3. If your face shows feelings then you are vulgar.
  4. If you mention that you have a single hair on your body then you are vile.
  5. If a boy kisses you in public on the cheek then you are a whore.
  6. If you eat with pleasure then you are a sow.
  7. If you experience pleasure sleeping then you are a cow.
  8. If you go to the toilet for body releases, then make sure nobody hear anything.
  9. You should never sweat  Thus, avoid voluptuous love-making.
  10. You should not marry for love.
  11. If you fall in love then you were not well-educated.
  12. Stay thin because males do not appreciate round shapes.

All the sufferings in sticking to these precepts have the sole objective of preserving your honor and nothing else.

In 1993, Amelie had published two books and Fubuki sent her a brief letter in Japanese saying simply “Congratulation”.

 

Wealth among the Lebanese: Those who looted the budgets and those who inherited

When over 50% are totally poor and the other half totally mindless of the economic state of affairs

I can testify that the vast majority of Lebanese, living in Lebanon, and acting as tolerably wealthy spend most of their time “engineering” their finances.

Fake wealth cannot be sustained, no matter how you fine tune your Ponzi schemes.

No matter what you do to hide your untenable financial status.

And it is this financial system, backed by the Central Bank, that spread this faked economy for 3 decades.

Faked wealthy Lebanese insist on hiring foreign home servants, with all the troubles and headaches of keeping them home,  and taking them to parties to help the other families in serving and washing the dishes and plates.

I can testify that only those who inherited lands and properties, and who sold them to float for a while, can still hide their precarious financial status.

Many graduate students who managed to locate a job for barely $1,000 are behaving in a mindless manner: buying a new car when the car given by their parents are fine and functional. Insisting on food delivery and spending exorbitant amount on gym facilities and skipping the physical exercise most of the time…

I can testify that Lebanese, living in Lebanon, abhor to work for a living, as Not fitting to their status.

Note: This atomic conflagration that destroyed the Port of Beirut and many quarters by the port was a waking awareness of our total bankruptcy, economically, financially, politically and social fabric and “Not Citizenship” behavior.

( منقولة ) وتحية لمن كتبها

اليوم الناس خايفة من الأزمة بس بصراحة وصل فينا البَطَرّ لحالة مش طبيعية..

لما بالبيت في أقل شي ٣ سيارات وخادمة،
ويمكن 5 تلفونات خليوية وثابت ،
وكل ولد غرفه نوم وحمام ، كل واحد بياكل على ذوقه :

واحد بالمطعم والثاني بياكل معلبات والثالث عطول معزوم والطبخة بتنكبّ.
ولمّن الأرغيلة صارت سيدة المجالس
ولما الارض ما منزورها الا على مشوايه لحم ,

ولمّا الزراعة صارت إهانة والمِهن صارت لغيرنا ،
ولما أعراسنا متل أمراء الممالك : أغلى كوافير وفستان وسيارة وزفّة وضيافة وحفلة بالمطعم
ورحلة على تركيا او فرنسا

وبالآخر بيطلّقوا بعد سنة حتى ما يحملوا مسؤولية
ولما ما حدى بيحكي مع حدى بالبيت : كل واحد راسه بتلفون،

ولما الجار بيموت بالكاد نعزي فيه، وبالفرح ما منروح الا عل العشاء والسهرة ،

ولما الحليب دسم ما منشربه،
والغمّة تفه،
والمجدرة نياق،
والكشك مش طيب،

والبرغل و الفول ما بيتاكلوا،
و لما الشب بيصير منعنع والبنت ما بتعرف تقلي بيضة!
وليش ما بصير فينا هيك ليش نحنا تهدينا…الآتي أعظم لأن منستاهل

والحلّ نرجع على طبيعة بلادنا وخيراتها والبركة والمونة والمحبة، والمساعدة الاجتماعية،والألفة والعيلة

Note: This atomic conflagration that destroyed the Port of Beirut and many quarters by the port

Memoirs of a Shia Woman

Tell Mr. Wehbeh: “Bahia has finally landed”

Hameed was seriously considering returning home to Lebanon: He just learned that his mother Zahia had passed away

Actually, the reason Hameed travelled to New York just after WWI was to convince his elder brother Wehbeh to return home because his mother was heart broken: Her favorite eldest son has left her over 10 years ago and never showed sign of coming back for a visit.

News in the early 1920’s reached the toiling people overseas many weeks later.

An employee in Wehbeh restaurant in New York informed Hameed that a lady outside wants to meet with him. The worker said: “She is a lady

On seeing the lady, Hameed felt a confusing impression of having met this woman when he was pretty young.

The lady greeted Hameed in English “Good morning” and resumed in a Lebanese Arabic slang: “Saida, Saida Mr. Hameed. Where is Mr. Wehbeh?

Hameed memory rewinded to over a decade ago, a scene of his father holding a whip, ready for action, and his brother Wehbeh raising a chair. The father spitting and shouting”Adabsis” (A turkish work meaning evil, naughty…)

Hameed recalls crossing the narrow streets in the city of Tyr (in south Lebanon) in the Manara block, and a young girl walking the opposite side of the street. The girl looked briefly at Hameed. And here he is hearing the lady saying: “Tell Mr. Wehbet that Bahia has finally landed”

The story of Wehbeh Ne3meh and Bahia, the daughter of Simon the Copt, took place a few years before WWI. Wehbeh never witnessed the horror of this war or the famine that harvested a quarter of Lebanon’s population, and the onslaught of the locusts…

Wehbeh was a Muslim Shi3a and Bahia was a Christian Orthodox.

They fell in love as Wehbeh was accompanying his Christian fisherman friend Hanna (John) to the church on a Sunday.  Bahia dressed and walked differently from the girls Wehbeh saw in the city.

Since there was no chance for their families to agree on their wedding, this potential couple decided to elope and try to manage later a reconciliation between the families.

Wehbeh was to rent a room in the next city of Saida and wait for Hanna to bring Bahia by sea.

Wehbeh waited for three days and nights by the seashore, at the port, barely sleeping for fear of missing the encounter. He finally gave up and surreptitiously returned to Tyr by night in order Not to meet any person and find out what was the problem.

Bahia was to be engaged to Iskandar, a old 55 year-old Christian man, and Wehbeh was apprehensive that the secret meeting was discovered and Bahia was hurriedly made to marry a man she didn’t care to live with.

Bahia stayed at her aunt. Bahia was to prepare a bag of her belonging, drop it at Hanna’s house, and join Hanna by nightfall to be whisked away on his small fisherman boat.

At the last day, Hanna had a terrible bout of bad conscience, sort of committing an unforgivable sin: He  will be blamed for a mix marriage, considered an enemy to his religious sect, and banned from the city…

Hanna met with the priest and confessed. They both knelt and prayed for hours. The evil Shaitan (demon) was defeated. Only the priest and the aunt knew about the scheme: It was not proper to spread the news…

Wehbeh decided to leave Lebanon and ended up in New York.

These thwarted  love stories based on religious differences were common before, and current even today, and will last for another century.

Note: This story is taken from “Memoirs of a Shia Woman” by Raja2 Ne3meh (Rajaa Nemeh). Hameed will become the father of Rajaa

Subcultural Tribes? Even in the 21st-Century?

A Guide To Recognizing these Subcultural Tribes

Rob Dubi has illustrated a series of portraits that looks at subculture stereotypes. (Feb. 29, 2012)

In ‘Your Scene Sucks’, Dubi makes fun of ‘Apple Store Indie’hipsters, rockers, emo, and hip hop kids, and ‘Popcore dorks’

Are you one of these ‘scene’ kids?

The Bazaar is a online, global marketplace to buy and sell art and creative products.

Creatives can choose to use our print-and-ship service to sell art prints around the world, or choose to ship custom products directly to buyers.

Note: got the link via Andrew Bossone

 

“The man with the long curly hair”: Fragments of Abu Nuwas‘ Poems (February 12, 2009)

Note:  I am attempting to convey the style and position of the great Arab poet Abu Nawas during the Abbasid period.  The translation is not literal and I am selecting fragments in specific genres.

Ascetics  (Abu Nawas is witnessing his physical disintegration after his 50)

It is true O God: Great is my villainy.

Your clemency, I know, is infinite.

If the virtuous only dares keep hope.

Then, who the sinner is to appeal to?

Whom the sinner is to believe in?

In humility I implore you my Lord.

Don’t reject me! Only You can have pity.

You are the clement and forgiving.

Finally and besides, I am a Muslim.

My God, you have always been good to me.

My gratitude is little adequate.

Do I have to present my flat excuses?

My excuse is that I have none.

Nullity crawls in me; my members are dying one at a time. Every moment takes its share.

My youth has fled and didn’t deign to listen.

What have I done with my tender youth?

My youth was dedicated to pleasure, every day and every night.

All possible mischief I have committed.  Forgive me God; I hear you and I tremble.

The full moon is just a dim glow compared to your majestic Face.

I carry on my front the indelible mark of prostrations that might pass me a devout.

Oh, how many noble figures are entombed and as many refined beauties.

How many brave are buried and as many great minds.

Let a rational man interrogate Earth. 

We have taken all Earth’s alleys, highways, and passes.

Earth is our enemy disguised as friend.

 

Satires

(The Caliph Al Amine is pederast and wanted to honor Abu Nawas young son Mussa.  The satirized personalities were the poet’s benefactors and he joined their merriments)

The Caliph is losing his way.  It is the Caliph fault.

His ignorant vizier Fadl and his naïve counselor Bakr are to be blamed.

The Caliph Al Amine is a pederast.  He loves young eunuchs.

The Caliph is the active actor: How wonderful!

His vizier is the passive one.

The compromises of these two are splattering all the neighborhood.

Like a pissing camel.


adonis49

adonis49

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