Hairy-Fairy

He was thinking to himself that this could be one of those moments in life where he experiences ultimate peace. He was lying on his back, in his bed, snack-bang in the middle of the day on a weekday and slowly drifting into sleep. He had been reading a novel, a damn good one at that, and yet the habit he had developed during college had returned and lulled him into sleep. The sweet, cold air from the aircon surely did its part to aid the process.

Wasn’t it great to take an off on a Wednesday, relax at home, and take pleasure about knowing that the rest of the world was slogging away at work and would give anything to be in your position?

Maybe it was the act of reading books that a strange thought occurred to him. Maybe Ellesworth Toohey from “Fountain head” had called it right when he had remarked that the act of holding one another’s hands to show that you are a couple was rather impractical. Your palms would begin to sweat soon enough and you would want to remove your hands. No matter when you did this, you are sure to disappoint your partner.

Now why was he thinking of Toohey? Oh yeah, it was because of the strand of hair that kept tickling his nostrils, making it really difficult for him to be enjoying the moment to its fullest. Surely, asking his wife to move a bit would solve the problem, however was he willing to take such a risk and disappoint her? Would she feel hurt that he pushed her away from him, (meta)physically? Three years of being married had made him wise enough to think of consequences before acting. One could be forgiven for greater crimes but pushing your wife even a square inch away during a moment of such great peace and intimacy such as this one could have disastrous consequences.

He tried to huff and puff the hair out but that only elevated the tickling. He could take it no longer. Picking up all his courage, he said in the faintest of voices, “Honey, could you move your head just a little bit, more towards my shoulder than my face?”

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………no response………………………………….

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Suddenly the door opened, startling him back to awakening. His wife peeped through and asked him, “Did you say something coz I could not hear from over the kitchen?”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

And he muttered, “Err, no. I just said I need to get a haircut soon” as he parted his really long hair away from his face!

 

 

 

 

 

#Truestory : Scroll further for action taken!

 

 

Book review – Doing good better – William MacAskill

Hailing from a conservative Indian family where we are taught to extract maximum value out of every penny or item, I found “Doing good better” to be extremely appealing. I have had reservations against donating money, the greatest one being that I did not have much to spare and hence would not give it for those causes with minimal impact. So I had to educate myself which program was the best and this book helped me gain clarity.

It has been five years since I graduated from my Masters program and I have missed graphs and statistics. I have always had a fascination towards topics where popular assumptions are broken down through logic, reasoning and most importantly, numbers. For those of you who love reading such a genre of articles, this book will appeal to your intellect.

The book provides a great starting point to evaluate various organizations and causes to gauge their effectiveness and impact. But that expectation is a given considering the title is “Doing good better”. Having said that, I am now aware of a few causes that do real good; capable of asking valid questions & qualifiers before parting with my money for any causes. Moreover, I am well aware of how much I can be influenced and drawn towards certain causes and well publicized events where the impact of my donation would not really make much difference in the overall scheme of things. My latest blog on “Why I won’t donate to the Manchester bombing” is based on some of the concepts outlined in this book. So, in essence, this book has more than “met expectations” and delivered to promise of educating me of how to do good, better.

I also found some sections of the book irrelevant for me and would happily skip those if I reread the book. For example, I am already too deep into my career to consider a path more aligned with effective altruism. Also, I do not for one bit find it practical for me to evaluate between a PHD or a computer science degree, keeping altruism as the end goal. As the saying goes, we Indians become engineers first before figuring out what we want to become in our lives.

In summary, read this book if you :

  1. Are remotely interested in doing good to the world
  2. Like the use of logical & data driven arguments to overcome popular assumptions
  3. Are convinced the one individual cannot make a significant difference to the world
  4. Want to choose between eating chicken/beef or ham, keeping in mind the environment/animals themselves

 

Why I won’t donate to the Manchester bombing

The bombing at Manchester is indeed a very sad event. 22 families have lost loved ones and surely their lives have been shattered beyond wildest dreams. The news has been well published on paper and has garnered a lot of sympathies from across the globe. There is no doubt that this is a tragedy.

NGOs have been setup for relief work for the families and pleas have been voiced for donations for the affected families.

However here are the reasons why I would not donate for this tragedy.

  1. Global Press: With so much coverage on the event, and a lot of celebrities voicing their sorry to the families, I am sure there would be enough funds collected already for the families. Moreover, I am also sure there would be one or two extremely rich persons wanting to make a real difference with a significant donation. Assuming a conservative estimate of 100,000 donations of $100 each, the impact of my donation to the overall figure is just 0.1%.
  2. Impact: Though the impact of the event has been devastating for the families, the scale of these impacts is restricted only to a section of Manchester. To put things in perspective, natural disasters wipe out entire towns and cities.
  3. 22: 429000 deaths happened in the world due to malaria in 2015. Road injuries (rank 10 in causes of death in the world) kill 43 people every day in Tamil Nadu. The Manchester bombing killed 22.
  4. Impact of one dollar donated: If I donated a dollar to the families in UK, I would probably be able to buy a bar of candy or chips with it. If I donated $100, I would probably have bought the families a new bed. Whereas $100 would be able to buy 40 mosquito nets that can potentially save 80 people from Malaria(Source: https://www.againstmalaria.com/WhyNets.aspx) . Using the concept of The 100x multiplier, which states that the value of a dollar given to a poor country could do 100x more good than when given to a rich one.  (Source :

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/what-is-the-greatest-good/395768/ ) it just makes less sense to donate to UK which is one of the richest countries in the world and can easily afford to take care of its people.

I don’t have any prejudice against Manchester or against the affected families. I have been a Manchester United fan for over 15 years and have experienced the city first hand. Judge me if you want, but I believe that once we have decided to donate money, we need to take a step back and look at where we can make a higher impact with the money we donated.

 

PS: If you want a quick recommendation of where to donate, here is a great place to start – http://www.givewell.org/

 

Altruism

I have been toying with the idea of making donations to funds that help the world….. Noble thought indeed.

However, I have been struck with a realization – I am happy to do the act but very reluctant to write about it. I would appreciate your opinions on whether my thoughts are justified.

Do we help ourselves?
I believe it is more of our ‘savings’ mentality that people expect us to build and save wealth. This might be for our future, followed by buffer for contingencies and if that is achieved, continue building for the future generations to come.

I do get the logic about why we should adhere to these principles. According to me, these guidelines are exactly what they are meant to be – guidelines. Once they take up a shape bigger than being just guidelines and becoming a norm or even worse, a fixation, there is little or no room to live life.

Economic freedom is a great feeling to have. Achieving this should enable one to explore options. This could be in the form of indulgences, following an alternate career path or passion, venturing out into a new business or risky deals or even altruism.

As per our ‘savings’ mentality, every penny out must fetch an ROI. Anything else is a wasted opportunity or a loss. All indulgences are frowned upon and we are branded as a show-off. Business ventures that carry risk are tolerated at best as there is an outside chance of returns.

Altruism scores the least as there is no personal gain. Any wealth that goes down the route of altruism is considered equivalent to wealth down the drains.

Is it just me that feels that our thinking is flawed or is it the norm? How many of you have embraced altruism and what was the reaction you faced when you discussed about this topic?

Keen to know your thoughts.