27 January 2014

Consistency

What annoys me the most about driving are the drivers whom are completely inconsistent. Those who speed up in the passing zone but manage to stay well under the speed limit at all other times. Those who will go five miles under the speed limit on the outskirts, then magically go fifteen over in a residential area. Those who can't manage to maintain the same speed while going up and down a hill. This, my friends, is one of my biggest pet peeves.
Which leads me to some random thoughts I've had about consistency. I started my current job six years ago. I feel that for a younger person, six years can make quite a difference. This time was really the genesis of my career. Though I feel like I've almost always had it all together, that's not true. There was a time in there when I just stopped caring. I was lazy and horrible. Generally got the job done, but more in a 15 year old 'what's the least I have to do to get by' sort of way.
There was a period when I was depressed. It happens, and, like many people I couldn't really explain it. Far more than these times, I have felt confident and competent and like I was in exactly the right place. Through good times and bad, I always feel like I am evolving. I am always looking to sort out my flaws and motivate myself to be what I consider to be a better person. I try very hard to remember this when I see my colleagues do or say very silly or hurtful things.
My favorite DaVinci quote (really the only one that I know) is “I am still learning.” This and my past rough times help me to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they're just going through a bad phase. Maybe they are just trying to figure it out. Maybe I should help them instead of shunning them in my mind. People can evolve, right?

Then again, maybe they don't. “A leopard can't change his spots” as they say. I am confident that I know people who are incapable of change or improvement. It's like that little voice is missing that says “I can be a better person.” They already are who they will be forever. These people are almost always exceedingly boring or exceedingly horrible. I worry more about the horrible ones. They can be relied upon to always be horrible, and maybe there is comfort there. Maybe I always want people to be predictable. At least then won't raise my expectations.

I thought that I had a point, but I am now seeing the irony of being inconsistent in my opinions concerning consistency. I give up. No wait. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't want to be judged on the bad times. I don't want one mistake to be held against me forever. (generic statement) And I want to be more vigilant in myself to give everyone a second chance. We all deserve one.

20 January 2014

Horn Please

I think that one way to start with India is to talk about driving. It is the first thing you'll notice. It's unavoidable, interesting, and a definite conversation starter. I was driven there by private vehicle, rickshaw, taxi cab of various style, private tourist vehicle, and very briefly: motorcycle. When I got in the back seat of my friends car, pulled the seatbelt around me and attempted to buckle it, there was no buckle. Passengers simply don't wear seatbelts. It was from that moment, I knew I was in for an adventure. (And that was after I slept in an airport, ran through Dubai airport, struggled through immigration, and had my checked bag lost.) Stories for another time.

The streets are exactly what you may expect: loud, chaotic, insane, impatient, fast, crowded, and completely bereft of rules and regulations, but secretly, I loved it. I am of a firm belief, (I know now, shared by most Indians) that if you're not going forward in a car, then what are you doing? I can really get behind the philosophy of 'make space so more people can go when the light turn green' or, 'if you're at a light and no one is coming the other way, then just go!' or, 'He who hesitates, waits, and will absolutely never cross the road.'

I will honk maybe one time a year. They will honk at least once every five minutes of driving. It is incessant and unyielding at all times of day. But it's polite...mostly. I mean, I reserve honking for when someone has failed to see that our light turned green or when I feel I am in imminent danger. And every time I honk, somewhere inside me I feel bad about it. But in India, the honking is just to keep the cars around you informed. 'I'm pulling out and I know you're in my way, but I'm pulling out anyway.' 'Don't cross now, because I am not stopping.' 'I intend to make this left turn from the right lane. And you will let me.' 'I am overtaking you now.' and my favorite, 'Move, cow.' (referring to an actual cow)

In ways, it's an ingenious system. It seems to get things done and appears to make for very cognisant, observant drivers with quick reflexes. Why just follow the care behind you? That's so boring. They overtake on what I consider not to drivable surfaces. How about passing on a blind curve, or at the crest of the hill without headlights. I enjoyed being on a four lane divided highway and suddenly finding traffic coming toward us in our lane. But no one yells, they just adapt. In all of the drivers I witnessed, no one looked mad, no one yelled, no one gestured. A simple honk said it all.

Being in cars was one of the best parts of the trip. There was so much to observe that I could barely blink. Even on a four lane highway, one could find cars, trucks, motorcycles, camel carts, horse carts, bicycles, herds of goats, pedestrians, everything!  India is a country of great faith, which is clearly illustrated on the roads. Every Hindu driver we had had a Ganesh statue on the dash board. As Ganesh is the remover of obstacles, I suppose it is fitting.

I think my biggest question was 'why?' Why take such unnecessary risks with your life? Why think it was okay to put your entire family of five (infant included) unhelmeted on the back of a motorcycle? Why not wear seatbelts? I don't really know the answer, but I would assume that it's something to do with tradition and education. Laws are changing and I saw seatbelt and helmet enforcement first hand. But then I think, why do our governments have to tell us what to do all the time? Can't we all be left to 'live free or die?' If I'm told as a free thinking adult that seatbelts will save my life and choose not to use one, that should be my prerogative, right? Okay, let's not get too crazy.


I know I will now undo everything I have said so far, but I think it is worth noting some statistics on this subject. Let's just say that with populations of 300 million and one billion, the US and India are fairly incomparable. But the US has 900 cars on the road per 1000 people. India has 18 cars on the road per 1000 people. That's pretty amazing. Especially when you think that the US had 33,000 road deaths in 2009 while India had 150,000. Of course, like all statistics, they must be taken with a grain of salt.

I will not be swayed in thinking that car travel in India is anything but fascinating, exciting, daring and an absolute 'must do'.

15 January 2014

I see.

I have been wondering how to make the blog more awesome.  Wait, I've got it- write on it more?  No, that's silly.  Surely it will get more awesome just by exisiting.  I mean, that's an eight year archive you have to catch up on.  Isn't that enough?
Of course not.  A daily post seems a little much, don't you think?  I mean if you're subjected to my daily thoughts you'll end up with something like this. 

I've been using the phrase "I see."  Too often.  I read and audit all of the charts at work and I've noticed that I've responded to messages with "I see."  I literally mean, "OH, I get it!"  in a happy understanding sort of way. 
But I realize now that "I see" only comes out as menacing or sarcastic. 
"I see."  he said as he pressed his fingertips together and sat back on his throne.  A faint smile crossed his lips as he continued with carefully measured words.  "You shall be hung by the neck until dead." 
Or, "Oh, I see."  She said as she rolled her eyes.  "Idiot."

So, I will stop using it as soon as possible. 

See?  Daily posts:  no way.  Because believe me, my daily life is not terribly entertaining.  Instead, I will renew the promise of last year and attempt to do a weekly 'column' here on the old blog.  That will ensure that I get to 1000 posts this year, and keep me on some kind of schedule.  Let's say Sunday nights.  Or, in actuality, look for it on Monday mornings. 

Yes, I will cheat and use India as a subject. 

06 January 2014

New New Year

As I write this, it isn't the 31st.  It's not even the 1st, but in my defense, it's been an odd couple of days.  I arrived from India on the morning of the 31st.  From there, I went almost directly to my Grandmother's house for our annual Christmas get-together.  Of course, I stopped at home and hugged the cats for about 100 hours first.

The whole of the day was more or less a blur, jet lag has a way of making you feel drunk when your not.  On the 1st I went to the movies and unpacked.  They say that what yo do on new year's day, you 'do all year.'  I'd be okay with that.  On the 2nd I went to work, and on the 3rd, I learned that I had been, um, relieved of my duties at my part time job.  This was both surprising and not surprising, and completely followed their pattern of not caring about their employees, or even the service.  That's really all I can say about that without getting extremely mad or sad.  At the same time, the rug I'd bought in India arrived at my door step.  It is beautiful and although I bought it under the thinking that I'd just pick up some extra shifts at part time work, I am excited to have it.  I rolled around on it for a while, weeping over the loss of my six year job and felt a lot better about the whole thing.

So, as for a year in review:  A moving and exciting end (which I will write about) to an amazing year.  So amazing that it's worrisome.  My 2014 expectations are low in some areas, high in others.  I think it will bring on changes professionally and personally rather than put stamps in my passport. 

The 'resolutions' remain the same, but absolutely the focus has shifted to my employment.  Not only because I lost part time work, but because I have the overwhelming feeling that I am in a race at full time work.  The race is will I have to quit it before it quits me?  Change is a-comin' and I don't want to be caught unawares. 

Every day in the new year I have submitted a job application.  Usually to things I am either woefully under- or overqualified for, but at this point- any dollars an hour sounds better than my current part time salary of zero dollars an hour.  Norms will be challenged, expectations blown away, and what is truly important will become painfully clear.