Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Distorted Day

I woke up long after the alarm went off and stepped on a dead cockroach that somehow found its way into my bedroom. I never thought about it but may be that was an omen of a day that would go completely pear shaped. I was late to go to sit with my Dad, as Mum had gone shopping and Dad who's disabled and elderly, was on his own at home. For some reason, my limbs decided to slow down and I found I couldn't hurry, apart from a burning sore-throat that didn't let up, even after downing a glass of water. so, I tried to ring Mum, once, twice - no answer. Then I tried to ring Dad, once, twice, again - no answer. Had they simply disappeared? 

I made my habitual mug of coffee and cereal and decided to take a shower. After that ritual, and being more awake, I tried Mum and Dad again, still no answer.
Mum had gone shopping with my cousin and her son, so I rang Pauline, she answered but the call became garbled and I couldn't make out what she said. The phone was passed to Mum and she said something, which I still couldn't make out, when I told her I'd tried to call several times and would be going to Dad almost immediately. Suddenly, she went off and I had to hang up. From that broken conversation, I gathered, they had finished shopping and would be getting home soon. I grabbed all the necessaries and drove off to my parent's home.

At the junction of their road, another headache awaited me. The piece of grassy open ground just opposite the row of terrace houses where my parents live has conveniently become the place to set up a customary food stall, whenever the local Chinese opera season comes round. Now, is the "Hungry Ghost" season, just before the September "Moon Cake" festival. It is the season of my discontent, as those patronizing that food stall park anywhere and every where, they fancy. There was nowhere nearer the house, to park the car, get off and open the porch gate, moreover, I didn't know if my cousin had brought Mum home with the shopping. Spying a space somewhere near the steps up to the temple, I drove past the gate and reversed into that space. It was a hot place out in the blazing sun. 

For all my trouble, I found that Mum had already got home with all the shopping. So much for thinking of other people's convenience. My throat was still sore and I was feeling a little headachy. It was around 1 something then, but no lunch yet. I decided to catch up on my reading and eventually fell asleep again. Opening my eyes after a while, it was nearly 3pm. Then, sunk into slumber again. When I came too again, it was past 4pm. Both my parents had also decided to take a nap before lunch! Nobody had had lunch. 

Dragging myself out of the chair, I went to the dining-kitchen and found the rice -cooker on the boil. Some food was being kept warm. There was chicken curry and rice, and an enamel bowl of rice porridge for Mum. Laid the chicken curry and rice on the table mats with metal plates and 2 pairs of forks and spoons for Dad and myself,  and a serving ladle, since Mum usually prefers to arrange her own dinner.

While I'm at my solitary 4.30pm lunch, a missed call comes through and I return it,  making a dinner appointment on Monday with another acquaintance. He's almost shocked to know I'm having lunch at 4.30pm on a Sunday afternoon. I tell him, it's normal. Then, I remember having promised a friend on the other side of the globe to call her around 10 am her time, in the UK. I rush home to make the call, about 5 pm, my time in Malaysia.

In the midst of our chat over skype, the internet connection gets cut off and I decide to load my equipment into the car again and go to my parents' place for a less choked connection. Setting up everything again in the back room, I try her again and this time get "voice mail". So, I hang up, send her a text and go into email. This isn't the pinnacle of my pear shaped day.

On the way to my parents' home, a stupid "Polis" car, with a few young men, I assume they were either plain-clothes cops or cops in plain clothes using the company car, recklessly turned out of a road nearly hitting me as I was going along the main road. That, was the peak of this completely distorted day, and I still have a sore-throat! 

Well, tomorrow is another day, as Scarlet O'Hara said. Hopefully, it'll be more in shape than today! 
All the best to my readers, hoping you'll have more good days than pear shaped ones. Till next time... Thanks for listening to my grouses. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Finding a Cure for Stupidity

A friend posted a cartoon on my Facebook page of a character trying to exorcise demons of stupidity. Stupidity,as far as I know is an incurable disease. It sometimes strikes when least expected. All human beings are vulnerable to this disease, some times we may regret what we do under the influence of 'stupidity', at other times, we dismiss it as, "Perhaps, it was for the best". However, in some cases, persistent stupidity seems to take over and all capacity for logical thinking is halted or simply blocked out, for a short time, hopefully.

In some places around the globe, especially in densely populated areas where there is a very high volume of vehicular traffic, like capital cities and metropolises, stupidity can be rampant. Symptoms of stupidity come in various forms. It may show itself in illogical action or snap decisions made by people driving or doing anything else without warning. Queue jumping in a traffic-jam may be a symptom of stupidity. It may confuse others and cause accidents that can be avoided, moreover it could worsen the traffic-jam instead of helping to disperse it. 

Con men often like to use stupidity on their victims, where victims are stupified into acting on their suggestions without thinking. This happens very quickly, accelerated by threat or the apparent need for haste.Clear thinking doesn't come with haste. Still, we are all susceptible to such shock and grab tactics.

Stupidity comes in various forms. One of these frequently infect those under the impression
that the world beyond them is just the same as that within their 'walled up' area. This is called, living under a coconut shell, or "katak dibawah tempurung" ( frog under a coconut shell). This may seem rather strange to some of us but really, most of us are affected by these illusions, some in government, too. 

A government is frequently, stupidly unrealistic in many ways. It may cling to the illusion that rigidity in implementation of certain policies and extensive bureaucracy makes it a more efficient and effective government, when these, in fact, cause many hardships to the common people by illogical implementation. 

A ruling party may also imagine that it is most popular when its popularity is very near rock-bottom, so it will continue to act, not as people expect it to, but in a way that diminishes electoral desire for it. It might only realize this one day,when it finds itself completely unable to control a mob of angry citizens or is simply being ignored by all and sundry. 

So, we have to be aware of this thing called, "STUPIDITY" and the demons that can possess anyone, big, small, human, or organization, even an inanimate object. It can suddenly seize control and cause utter and irrational chaos in our lives. Do look out for it, you'll never know when you get struck by it until later. 

As for finding a 'cure', well, that may be in the realms of "Bolehland". No ancient herbalist or doctor has yet discovered a permanent cure for 'Stupidity'. We'll just have to live with it, for better or worse. Take care.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Not Gone Altogether

We think that dying is the end of the story. Physically, yes. But in some circumstances, a death is the beginning of a whole series of events. It can even be the door to a new life. Just looking around me, in my little two roomed flat, I felt rich i.e. wealthy and content. I don't have any thing ultra valuable, just a lot of very sentimental, usable stuff, that I was thankful for. My late husband still provides for me. I'd have been worse off without all this - my own place to live in, even if it's rented, a stock of food in the refrigerator, clothes to wear, a computer to connect with the outside world, a car to move around in and all the basic necessities of life. 

I'm lucky, much luckier than so many others who may have been left high and dry or have nothing at all after all debts are paid. He was a good husband, a gentle and kind man, who cared for me, even making sure I could continue life, independently without having to worry about basic needs. I like a quiet life, although I'm forced to leave the security of my shell to face the world when others may need an extra hand. It's not comfortable, but necessary. Much of the time, I like being left on my own to potter around in my own world, enjoying whatever I enjoy doing - reading, writing, building castles in the air...So, his going away, started my 'new' life.

A woman who dies in childbirth still gives the world a gift - her child, starting a new life, a new history and a new hope for the future. It is often hard to tell how this gift will be received by the world at large. 

Princess Diana's death brought changes to the British Royals that probably would never have happened, until William comes to the throne. Yet, it had such an impact that now, William and Kate ( his wife) are public figures who are less remote, more humanly identifiable as normal celebrities, and more approachable. They have, in a way, stepped off their pedestals. Thanks to Diana Spencer for being a good mother, who understood what children need to lead a normal life, as normal human beings. 

Back in the 1980s, the tragic killing of Benigno Aquino, father of the current Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III, whose mother, Corazon Aquino, was also a former president of that country, served to bring changes in the Philippines, for which all hope was almost lost. The country was freed from the clutches of dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

So death actually brings new life, as Jesus said, " A seed, gives up its life for a tree to grow."
Death is not the end but a new beginning.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Story of Dig It Dot Co.

Dig It Dot Co. was a cell phone and broadband provider in Anythingland. It kicked off on a wave of hype, widely advertising itself as THE  hip provider with the best rates and  simple, straight-forward connection packages without hidden costs. Many people, were persuaded to become Dig It's customers. Dig It grew richer and richer over a few years and continued to introduce various cellphone schemes, ultimately going into the internet broadband market. With this category of products, Dig It attracted many young internet users. So, Dig It became an important competitor in the mobile communications market.

In the mean time, other competitors came into the market using various strategies to corner as much of the Anythingland telecommunications market as they could. Dissatisfied customers of these competitors were known to switch over to Dig It for better service. So, life went on as rapidly as changes in IT and communications technology allowed.

One day Dig It decided to jump on the ecological conservation band wagon due to the hype about climate change and progressive environmental damage, to increase profits and lessen work involved in sending out hard copy bills to its customers. Dig It began encouraging them to opt for e-bills and e-payments. It was all set to phase out hard copy bills sent by post, but seemed not to consider that a small number of its customers perhaps, preferred to get paper bills in the post for personal reasons. 

Dig It got very angry when this customer minority didn't opt for e-billing, and went on a tough campaign to force them to comply with the company's 'green policy'. It resorted to belittling these non-conforming customers, with messages suggesting that they were, not cool or eco-friendly, and were destroyers of the environment. 

Yet, Dig It did not take any steps to put into practice, its own eco policies by using existing alternatives, like recycled paper, to produce hard copy bills. Dig It also introduced self-service payment at its kiosks, directing customers to its payment machines. However, customers could not pay the exact amount of the bills into these machines, as coins or non-rounded off sums of money were rejected. If a customer had a $54 bill, he/she could only pay $50 into the machine, bringing forward $4 to the next month's bill. The customer always seemed to be in debt even if they wanted to settle the full bill for the month. 

Dig It thought it a good way to maintain customer loyalty by keeping them in debt. Dig It also thought that its customers were too stupid to see through this financial ploy or that they didn't mind being put in debt although they could actually clear the bills every month. Those who insisted on clearing the bills for the month were made to queue up to wait a long time to be served. Dig It's staff took their own sweet time dealing with the long queue of customers. 

Some customers decided to pay bills by mailing checks to Dig It's Payment Departments, at its main offices. But, it took a long time to get their receipts. Some complained that when checks were presented to staff at Dig It's kiosks, staff didn't know what to do with the checks.

It never occurred to Dig It to consult or ask its customers before launching on the 'green policy' drive, nor did Dig It understand how to treat its customers with courtesy and establish good customer relations. Everyone's patience has its limits and eventually more and more customers began to terminate Dig It's mobile provider services.

Dig It, then went on to rigorously marketing the internet broadband facility and did reasonably well except for the continued 'green' e-billing policy. E-notifications could be viewed in a few seconds and forgotten immediately, if the customer was too busy working on something else online and had no time to make an e-payment. 

Dig It's billing system was also so unclear, as it held onto the aim of keeping the customer in debt, confusing customers of whether, they were over-paying or under-paying Dig It. Dig It's staff (equally confused) were unable to clarify this confused system to customers. So, a number of these broadband customers also began to drift away to competitor internet broadband service providers.

The moral of the story is that wealth and prosperity do not make up for bad manners and arrogance. If Dig It had not become dictatorial towards its customers, it would still have the goodwill and cooperation of its former customers in promoting the eco-friendly green policy it launched. Sadly, unless Dig It learns something from this circumstance it will only succeed in turning away more customers and harming its own business. Dig It had dug its own grave.

Dig It Dot Co. is a fictional company and any similarities arising in this story to real situations are merely accidental and not intended to reflect on any existing telecommunications enterprise anywhere.