Wednesday, February 26, 2020

heavy breathing

one of the strangest mysteries of the universe would be the sound of heavy breathing in our living room.

we couldn't locate the exact origin of the sound, no electronic items that could have made the sound were powered on, and obviously we were the only mammals present. we tried holding our breath, and it definitely wasn't us.

the sound persisted for a few hours and then disappeared as abruptly as it started!

update (2020/05/26): it was a certain bird's calls, which somehow sounded like heavy breathing when filtered through the double-glazed windows! strange but true!!!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

motorcycle servicing

I was in Mumbai on vacation. but I hadn't taken a flight there from Belfast - I had taken a ferry! and that was because I wanted to ride my UK bike (Vicki) and not my India bike (Carly) this time. I was quite nervous about having a big bike in Mumbai though. parking at my parents place was tight - it was pretty hard to get Carly into position, and Vicki had double the turning radius! I also got stopped by cops because Vicki doesn't have a number plate in front, but they did buy my story about having shipped her down for a month - not sure how, but I showed them everything from my passport, to my UK residence permit, Indian and UK licenses, my return tickets, and obviously my bike papers. I remember thinking to myself that I don't have a carnet (the legal document most countries require to temporarily allow foreign-registered vehicles). phew.

also, I happened to bump into my regular mechanic. he was in awe of my big bike. I told him the story of how I moved to the UK, etc. he asked me if there was any work that had to be done on it. I told him I wanted to learn to do an oil change myself. asked him if he had any idea what sort of oil filter would go in. he didn't know, but  he would take a look and see, while we were doing the oil change.

next I knew, I was riding on the highway somewhere. it was definitely somewhere far, and I didn't find it familiar. and then, I saw a mechanic by the highway. with plenty of big, imported bikes outside. I decided I should get the bike checked here. I rode in, asked if they'd service my bike - nothing major, just oiling and greasing, and free up the brakes (I have a problem with the brakes binding with the disc). the main mechanic was a lady, who definitely didn't look Indian - seemed more British or Irish in fact. the people working for her seemed like locals though. they all wore a dark blue uniform. they got down to work, while she supervised them. they oiled everything, took the brake pads off and re-set them after a cleaning. while putting the bike back together, they installed an engine immobiliser as well. strangely, they didn't ask me if I wanted one - just fitted it. in fact, I didn't even get a chance to see how and where they fit it. the immobiliser came with a remote, that I added to my keychain. it was multicoloured, back-lit, and had 4 buttons. it looked sealed, so I wondered what I'd do if the battery runs out. I asked the lady where exactly the immobiliser was attached/wired in to the bike. she refused to tell me, claiming that once the word was out the bike would be easy to steal. that didn't make sense, but she refused to budge.

service done, I was ready to ride off. I asked her how much. 125 rupees! that was shockingly cheap, so cheap I wondered if she meant pounds (although 125 pounds would be a fair bit more than what I expected to pay). I asked her if I could pay by card, still not believing the bill could be that low. she said that only cash would be accepted. I checked my wallet, and I didn't have any rupees - only pounds. I offered to overpay generously, but she insisted that I pay in rupees, and in cash.

I tried to convince her that I needed an oil change shortly, and I will come back for that with enough cash on hand. she agreed, reminding me that she could disable my bike with the immobiliser if she wanted to. 

I left, wondering how I'd explain to my regular mechanic why I didn't need an oil change after all. 

and that's when I woke up. 

Saturday, February 08, 2020

the problem with trying to solve people problems

i've always felt the urge to solve human problems. mine as well as those that are not directly mine, but indirectly affect me (every problem affects everyone!)

my own problems are usually simple: the solution is usually about doing something that seems obvious but not very appealing. and the solution is usually incremental - i got here through many tiny steps in the wrong direction, and i just have to retrace/go the opposite way and i'm sorted. the big bang problems are generally not obviously visible to me until someone calls me out on it, and in that case as well, the solution is usually tiny steps in the opposite direction.

when it comes to problems that are indirectly mine though, it's interesting. as an outsider, tiny incremental steps by others in the right direction seem inconsequential, and i tend to focus my thoughts on chunkier things. the reasons for this are many:

  • for every person seeming to do the right thing, there are others doing the exact opposite. unless there's an overwhelming majority moving in the positive direction, it's easy to get lost in the perception bias and conclude there is no net effect
  • solving problems incrementally depends on consistency, and it's hard to perceive consistency in other people.
  • it's hard to tell if tiny incremental steps are due to an over-arching strategy or just correlation. if it's the latter then nothing is being solved since the above 2 points are dominant.
  • the obvious possibility that i'm wrong - if it's tiny steps, how do i correlate cause and effect on a macro level?
i could probably go on all day. but in short, that's why small steps do not lend themselves well to observation and solutions of people problems. and so, i'm unavoidably attracted to big picture problems/solutions. but again, trying to solve big problems, leads to a strange progression of thought: every problem leads to an underlying, even bigger problem. sometimes it leads to multiple problems. and eventually it leads to such a big problem that the solution seems to be... annihilation of the human race. that is a definite, conclusive solution to all people problems, isn't it?

but if that's the solution, isn't that where we're headed after all? why speed up a process when my now nihilistic perception of our race already predicts that as the inevitable destination?

and if that's the solution for our race, why should I attempt to go the other way?

nihilism quickly leads to hedonism - if we're doomed, we might as well enjoy the journey, and damn the consequences, right?

but then, i'm no longer part of the solution: i'm now part of the problem! and that's obviously something I don't want to be, because if that's what everyone else was, we'd be brought to a pretty swift end.

in short: since we have arrived at a contradiction, my premise must be incorrect: there's no point in solving big problems that affect other members of society before they affect me.

so, i must solve my own problems. fine.

but as part of solving my own problems, if i do not try to let others reuse my solutions if they desire, am i not wasting my solution?

so, i must solve my own problems incrementally, while helping others solve theirs by speaking about mine.

but again, i need to know what problems i'm solving for others, so that i'm not just pouring out an overwhelming stream-of-consciousness thatg dilutes my solutions to the point of them being lost, right? and for that i need to know what problems i want to solve for them!

there sees to be no correct approach to this, so i'm probably going to pick a few thing I feel are important, and focus on them consciously.

watch this space.

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