Monthly Archives: July 2008

Shocker

Wu Shuo tuo is a strong man in his late twenties working in a garment manufacturing firm in Xinyang, China. His name means, quite literally, to support or to push, and such is his job – he is a fork lift operator in the factory unit 22. Wu has this brilliant idea of stealing garments – one or two at at time, maximum – from the packaging department. His line of thinking, very different from the general Chinese, but still human: one out of millions; what difference does it make? So every Saturday, after this 10-hour shift, he’d take two of the garments: one red tee with a white smile-like logo on it, another with a similar design, only black in colour, and sell them to a local market dealer, who’d then repackage and pass them on to a American Mall in uptown Shanghai market, where the tall and big people originally from half way around the globe would shop – these tees would be too big for the Chinese - they’d sell for $8.95 a piece, and Wu would get a commission of two yaun, sometimes even three if the dealer was in a good mood. Those two were the only tees he’d ever steal, for some reason.

Claire is an English-born American who has a degree in business administration and a yearning for foreign travel; she engages in a foreign assignment with one of the leading sports apparel manufacturer – the exact same one who outsources manufacturing to the factory in whose Unit 22 Wu works. She is posted as the General Manager who’d oversee these manufacturing units in China. Life is fun, amidst hot smoked and steamed dumplings and cheap labour. She has even started taking Chinese classes in order to connect with her workers, and maybe find some “local flavour” in the streets.

The era is technology driven, and lots of funny statistics can pour out if technology is implemented to capture and record everything that happens. The technology in Unit 22 was such. Two things happened: One, a certain SKU reported a consistent loss of inventory over a period of three weeks, which an Indian developer had programmed, based on detailed specifications from a certain ERP solutions provider in Europe, to trigger an alarm in the reporting system and so, the next report that Claire received had this fact stated in a nice bullet point under “Concerns”. Two, the security cameras put in place for the perceived happiness and satisfaction of the foreigners do not distinguish between foreigners and Chinese, recording everything diligently.

Claire is practical and very technologically-savy. Putting two-and-two together, she quickly correlates the result of missing inventory to the cause, Wu stealing those two tees every week. As any ethical and yet, profit-oriented, manager would do, she calls Wu to her office. A English-Chinese translator helps her get across the rather curt decision – “The company has a zero tolerance policy for theft of any kind. In accordance with this policy, Wu is fired from immediate effect. Moreover, to make an example of this kind of inappropriate behaviour, Wu would also be reported to the authorities.”

Things move swiftly from here, and everything is a blur.

Claire returns to America, in a state of extreme depression, on the verge of complete breakdown. Only yesterday was she “apprised” by a rather eager Chinese middle-level manager that the authorities had executed Wu.

This is a work of fiction and should be treated as such. Any consequental implications are unprecedented and I bear zero liability for them. Built upon a premise set in the book “Organizational Behavior”, Robbins and Judge, Twelth Edition, published by the Prentice-Hall of India Pvt. Ltd. in an Eastern Economy Edition. ISBN 978-81-203-3090-0.

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It isn’t unreal just because we stop thinking

Basic premise: An offer – you get to do whatever you want for a period of time – anything, just about anything, that you ever might want to do – but, and here’s the fine print – you absolutely won’t remember what you did.

So, will you take it up?

In essence, you get all the satisfaction that you’ve always dreamed of deriving from that one activity, at least when engaging in that activity, but it won’t be a recurring first-person memory. Since the world will not stop existing because you forget about it, people will observe and recollect, they will remember what you did, and they will often be more than happy to recant to you what they percieve you did – only that you don’t remember anything of it.

There are a couple of issues with this – One, people may not always remember the most relevant things, or worse, add their dimensions, outlooks, prejudices to what they believe happened. This alone has enough potential to wreck your second-hand memory, which you are so desperate to acquire, and yet which will be denied to you. Two, consequences do not disappear, just because you have no recollection of the incidences. In fact, because the whole support system that would normally exist if you were knowledgable doesn’t exist, you basically don’t know how to react. You don’t have the upper hand. That does wonders to your confidence.

So, if you ever find yourself in such a position – and there will be times when you’d be – pray that my lifetime dream of having a personal “life recorder” that will record every evanascent moment of life in a multitude of dimensions and senses, is available for purchase, and that you’ve purchased and enabled it.

Then again, that offer probably wouldn’t make sense anyway, would it? Also, you wouldn’t, in all possibility, engage in an activity that you’d really want to do, knowing it is being “recorded”, so what if only for your personal consumption.

Darn, life is so complicated.

Viva La Vida / Death And All His Friends

They have done it again!

They being the alternative rock band from England, the ones who gave us The Scientist, Clocks, Yellow and more recently, Talk. Yes, I’m writing about Coldplay and their latest offering, Viva La Vida / Death And All His Friends.

Somehow I had not managed up until now to lay my hands on their latest offering – and now that I have, I feel that I should have done this quite some time before. This is one album that I liked the first time I heard it. It is very Coldplayesque, unlike the previous X&Y. The music is distinctly their style – mellow, meaningful (if you go looking for it) and deep. Yes, it is a bit heavier and louder than say that in Parachutes, but that’s okay.

Viva had tinges of sadness in many of their songs – not the feeling of sadness per se, but that feeling you get when you start realize that you are losing something that you deeply cherish because you somehow didn’t try harder holding on to it – and it is almost too late. Don’t listen to it when you are rather happy, you might positively hate it.

So personal favourites so far – Life in Tecnicolour, Lost, Lovers in Japan, Violet Hill and Strawberry Swing. Of course, if you ask me tomorrow, it’ll be rather difficult to select these, because I’ll start liking the entire album by then.

And they even have a song titled 42. Now how cool is that?

Overall, beautiful stuff, especially for those nights when you’d want to sort of instropsect. Happy listening!

Musings

The problem with technology is that it inherently unreliable. And every so often, I keep forgetting that. Except that sometimes, people are unreliable too. Including you. And me.

Ever wondered why we take the emotional decisions that we do? They are just so gray. It is extremely difficult to look back and say clearly – yes, this is one decision that I do not regret, or no, I completely regret making this decision. Is it really that difficult? Should it really be that difficult?

Pressure and hopelessness brings about a variety of traits in people. Which ones did they bring out in you? Were they the ones you expected? What if they were not? Are you man enough to face the person you are, but didn’t ever think you’d be? Can you live with him? And then, do you really have a choice? Or, even if you do, are you really willing to put in what it takes to change everything?

What does one want from life?

Big talks and big plans. Showcases and storefronts. Are these real? Or just displays? Which is it? When does the illusion stop? Does it ever stop? Or is that the reality that one conveniently assumed to be the unreal?

Loose control, they say. And then, things bubble out. Can you confront them? Can you confront the true you? Why do we have to belong? Social animals and what not. Herds are here to stay. It’s the upbringing and the social context that is at fault. Or is that just an excuse?

And why ponder, really? When it can all go away in the next morning’s rising sun, mingled with the dews from the early morning rain. Especially when it can go away. Do you want it to go away?