Saturday, 23 February 2013

Keeping up Appearances


Petaling Street, is actually a Chinatown that is notorious for pirated clothes and accessories in Kuala Lumpur.  While buying things from this market, prepare yourself to bargain a lot because things, like watches, clothing and all other counterfeit items, are quoted on higher prices. It is very much possible that you might get things on half or one-third of the quoted rates using right techniques of haggling.

The best part about this street is, people know that they are buying fakes still this market fascinate not only tourists but locals as well.The rise of the "fakes" market is a fact and I will admit, it is flourishing in times of recession. People buy fake to satisfy their personal need of owning designer products. But what are the factors that determine this need and should people even consider buying designer fakes?

For the purposes of this discussion, I will employ game theory. In economics we consider that for every action there is a reaction with a perceived payoff (enjoyment). In the case of fakes the reaction is the perception of society about the person carrying the fake designer handbag. Let us take things from the beginning.

Two dimensions will be discussed today. The first dimension is the human need to purchase a fake handbag. This need can be broken down in two factors: taste and showing off. The factor of taste is very subjective and can differ dramatically based on the individual. There are people that will want to buy a fake purely for functional purposes and do not care about showing off. This factor escapes the purpose of this post so I will not discuss it any further.

Showing off on the other hand, is a different story. This factor represents the people who hold fakes with the hope of capturing attention and admiration from the people around them. They believe that the fake can add to their social status.

The second dimension to determine the purchase of a fake is social status. Social status can be divided in two broad categories: high and low. People with high social status are the rich.These are the people who can afford both originals and fakes. People with low social status are the relatively poor. These are the people who can afford fakes and perhaps, after lengthy savings, they may be able to afford an original.

For the purposes of this discussion I will assume that the proportion of people in society who can tell the fake from an original is extremely small and cannot affect the social payoff.

When high status people buy fakes, society reacts by deeming the fakes to be originals. This is because society judge people based on past experience and social status. Even a fake will add to the status of the wealthy because society will reject the idea of the rich purchasing a fake.

Unfortunately, lower status people will be judged harshly by society. Even when an original designer piece is bought, society will deem it to be a fake. This is because raising one's social status is extremely difficult.This arises from the fact that no matter original or fake, society will be unwilling to accept a change of status. Gossips will be flying left and right about how fake the designer piece is, even though it may, in fact, be an original.

Have you heard the saying it is not the clothes that make the person, but rather the person that makes the clothes?

The outcome of this discussion is that in general the lower status people should avoid buying fakes for the purpose of showing off since they are judged more harshly than the higher status people. Sad but true. A reminder that purchasing a fake because of functionality or other purpose that involves personal tastes is an entirely different story.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Milestone



Don’t know why I am remembering the time spent in my school and college so much these days. The kind of moments I shared with some of my best friends were truly the most innocent days of my life, in fact in everyone’s life.

May be the tedious office hours, the monotonous behavior and lifestyle and the cold shoulders even amongst so-called best mates is allowing us to remember the innocent times of the past, times which would never come back ever again!

School days- What can be said about them? To add cherry on the cake in my memories,

School and college life was bliss!!! And yes, writing this statement, I feel that life has truly changed!!! The memories of my school life still sprout on me … Remember those unlimited stoppages at libraries to surf different books and making notes? But now the world is just a click away, thanks to our best friend – Internet! And what about those never-ending evening hours which we used to get after coming back from our school, dropping the bag carelessly on the bed – hours which were spent in calling friends from their homes and playing street games? Now one hardly remembers when was the last time we actually had a long chat with one of our closest friends! Some even don’t want to remember their names!!! Why should I call him, what would he think if I text him? Is it the right time to send a message to him! Questions are endless! Now we are hesitating in talking to that buddy with whom we used to share some of the deepest secrets of our life, whispering things in his ears and giving him swears not to disclose it to the other friend.

Milestones, We cross them every day without realising them sometimes. And I am not talking about the milestones that are used to mark distances on our roads. Today, these have been replaced with metal signboards that measure distance by kilometres instead.

On some off-highway roads in the country, you can still pass by the old-fashioned milestones, but I reckon all will disappear eventually. But what about the milestones in our life?

Are they marked only by the very defining moments – birth, graduation, marriage, first job, retirement, death – or do we also mark the more personal moments that have a great impact on our lives?

At work, for example, some of us may switch jobs ever so often, or are regularly transferred from one department to another, that we do not really see them as milestones.

In my more melancholic mood, I often go through old photo albums because photographic evidence is often a good guide to the milestones in our lives. But behind every photo, there is always a range of reflections that demarcates the real milestones that one photograph cannot reveal.

For many of us, the natural progression at the workplace is to start as a junior worker, slowly working our way up to be a section manager, a department head, and hopefully as CEO one day. Some of us take the road less travelled, and we somehow are able to enjoy the richness of life that becomes part of the journey. I truly believe it is all about people, those who come into our lives by choice or by circumstances, that are the real milestones in our lives.

Who are the people who have made the most impact in your life? Was it a teacher, a boss, a public figure, or just a homeless man by the sidewalk that you passed by every day during one phase of your life?

Modern day society teaches us to be materialistic, so our focus is on monuments and structures. Even the name card we hand out every day is a material possession that focuses on our position more than our character. And because that is the focus, we spend a lot of time chasing things to uplift the position, in the hope that at the end of the day, that is the true definition of who we are.

A common saying beseeches us to “use things, love people” but oftentimes, it is the reverse. The milestones I cherish most are not the ones about successes and failures, but about people who made a real difference in my life. They are family, friends, and even total strangers. Sometimes, all it needs is a casual remark or a comforting word to push us onwards in this journey of life. 

Note:- To my friend thanks for all the birthday wishes

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hogwarts



In my eyes, the MRSM system is part of the social engineering process in transforming certain segment of our community, particularly Bumiputera. Close to 40 years later, the MRSM alumni are everywhere. Some of us are in positions to make significant difference to the country, some are contributing to nation building in their own ways.

MRSM was built as a Boarding school and not the day school like the Bronx High School it was modelled after. Initially MRSM was built to provide education for rural and urban poor because they were lacking in exposure to education. They needed to be given a chance. This explains why the program was placed with MARA which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Rural Development.

When MRSM was conceived in early 1970s, it was to increase the number of Bumiputera students to produce good results and catch up in number as the rural schools were lacking in facilities.
To screen the “best and brightest” among Malay children to undergo privileged training in education. The vision was to create intellectual elites able to build the nation which was then in the process of modernizing. No doubt the system evolved, in line with the evolution of the society.

Recently, a daughter of a friend of mine just register to one of the MRSM. According to her, one can find parents driving Mercedes and BMW on registration day. Correspondingly, it is quite noticeable that urban middle class Malay children are benefiting from the present boarding school program.

Although more urban Middle class children are getting in, usually these students entered boarding school at the insistent of their boarding school alumni parents. In total, many rural and urban poor were deprived of that opportunity because of trend.

The reason primarily is the perfect As minimal requirement which by probability, favours children from the urban and well heeled family. The minimal academic requirement severely disadvantaged the potential rural and urban poor students. They usually do poorly in the English language subject and this denied them that entry opportunity.

MRSM is not a perfect system, as with other man-made system. However, it provided young Malaysians, mostly from the lower strata of the society to have the opportunity to be leaders of the future.How this system is shaped in the future will be determined by us collectively. We cannot stand passive and argue from the sideline if we feel the system need to be corrected. Some may have more opportunities than other to do this.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

WALL-E & EVE






Love is a funny game and its one that many of us find ourselves playing. WALL-E’s story is a great example of the twists and turns which often take place in a relationship. As soon as WALL-E sees EVE, he is mesmerized by her, yet he has to wait a long time, and they both go through many challenges, before they finally end up together.

Their relationship is complex, and you can see it develop throughout the movie in their interactions, gestures, and body language. Theirs is a truly moving love story, and it feels authentic and real. Dialogue is most certainly unnecessary. We rely on their actions and these noises to perceive WALL-E’s initial infatuation, his sacrificial love, EVE’s initial frostiness who takes her job seriously, but has a side that's emotional and curious about a specific interest related to life. Sound familiar?

Anyways, Wall-E and EVE don’t fall in love right away — they become friends first, which is so totally fantastic. Once they do fall in love, you get the sense that the sincere affection underneath their love makes it way more sincere than star-crossed lovers.

We see a great possibility of WALL-E getting hurt; indeed his infatuation with EVE nearly leads to him being blasted by her laser. When Eve is immobilized, WALL-E demonstrates sacrificial love by caring for her. He is prepared to be struck by lightning repeatedly just to look after her. WALL-E doesn’t give up on the relationship even though it’s dangerous, costly and, for a long time, one-sided. Indeed loving relationships remain a universal desire. We all long to be, and have a need to be, loved and to love.

Both Wall-E and Eve are loveable characters, yet their mismatched personalities create plenty of humor for the movie. WALL-E and EVE's relationship takes a story of happily ever after and shows it in the more practical light of commitment, and becomes the purest example of love that I've ever seen in film. The two balance each other out, support each other, are honest with each other, respect each other, and of course love each other.

They seem impossibly different to begin with and slowly blend together to one heart, saving each other and the world along with them. It's thought provoking, beautiful, and insanely cute to top it off.

Note: To my fiance "I am not perfect but with you I felt complete, Thank you for accepting all my weakness... Happy Valentine Day..Sorry I cannot physically celebrate with you this year"

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Financially Prosperous Year



 
Chinese New Year is the major celebration of the festivals in Chinese Culture. There are many things that we are aware of about this celebration. Things such as giving red envelopes to children, cleaning the house, and having a big feast are well known to the adoption community. However, are we aware where these traditions symbolized.

The actual date of Chinese New Year is determined by the luni-solar calendar, which is why you’ll often see the holiday referred to as Lunar New Year (especially outside of China). Each year is attributed to one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and its characteristics. This year, Chinese New Year’s Day falls on Feb. 10, ringing in Year of the Snake.

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, families gather under one roof for the elaborate reunion feast. It’s here the red envelopes full of crisp money are often exchanged, typically from senior to junior. Kids love it.Traditionally, Chinese culture has been centred on the family. Family groups would stay in the same area for generations. A family living in the same place for that kind of time is something that we cannot comprehend in their culture. For them, a normal first question that we ask someone is where he or she grew up. Their transient culture has caused to lose some of the meaning of family that can be found in the Chinese culture.

If we begin to incorporate the traditional values of Chinese New Year in our bi-cultural families, we can become part of an ancient tradition that honours the family. To me, the great thing about Chinese New Year traditions isn't the red envelopes (children probably disagree), the decorations. The best thing is the emphasis on the family. Let's make a conscious decision to establish some Chinese New Year traditions that will bring our families together.
 
To my Chinese friend here’s wishing you and your family prosperity and auspicious blessings. Gong Xi Fa Cai!! 
 
Note: Chinese Lanterns: Lanterns represent peace, harmony and blessings as they guide everyone to their own home after the period of celebration and festivity

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Fish

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime."
 
Like Howard, I need to learn how to fish as my family in law love fishing too much. While learning how to fish, I was struck by the parallels of fishing to life in general.

To catch a fish you have to know what to use, and you have to know how to present the bait to the fish to entice them to bite. Life is also like this. You have to learn what makes other people tick, you have to know how to present information to them in a way that makes it attractive to them and entices them to take the information.

This can only be achieved by studying people in their environment and learning what encourages them, what distracts them, what spooks them and how do you imitate these various triggers to motivate them to cooperate with you in life.

But you also have to know these things about yourself, otherwise you may be taking the bait presented by someone else, and you might find yourself hooked!

Casting involves a fine art of learning a series of steps and getting them in the right order at the right time to put your bait in the right place, i.e. where the fish are. Sometimes this is in the open, sometimes in and around the snags, sometimes in the deep, sometimes in the shallow.

Deciding where you are going to aim your life is like casting. If you are always aiming for the clear calm waters you may be missing many chances to catch a lot of life’s opportunities.

Opportunities are often in places you would not expect to find them, so sometimes you need to be in life’s shallows, sometimes you need to be in life’s’ muddy waters, sometimes you need to be in and around the snags in life to see them.

When fishing you really must be working at your patience. It takes a while for them to appreciate that after you cast you have to have a period of patience. You need to allow time for the bait to settle where it needs to be and for the fish to become aware of it, and to assess whether it looks enticing enough to take a bite of.

Sometimes the length of time needed to exercise patience is short, sometimes it is lengthy but you need to be actively engaged in the act of patience and constantly aware of what is happening around you or you will never know

When to strike. Some species of fish are aggressive and attack the bait, some are fidgety and will nibble without too many clues that they are there, even though they are nibbling away at your bait.

If you strike too quick you can miss your fish by failing to set the hook, if you take too long you can be left with and empty hook and no bait.

Life’s opportunities are like this too. If you are too eager you might strike too early and snatch defeat from the jaws of success, if you wait too long others may have eaten up the opportunity and left you waiting on an empty hook.

Let’s face it in life we are going to act too early or wait too long on a lot of occasions. But by being open to continual learning you will help improve the number of times you do manage to get the strike time just right, and when you do you also need to know….

What to keep and what to throw away; When fishing there are things like bag limits to let you know how many of what type of fish you are allowed to keep, how big the fish need to be to be legal etc.

It is also a great idea to limit what you keep o what you need (within legal limits). Fish that are undersized should be thrown back, to help keep the system growing and make sure that there are fish still there for the future.

Learning what to keep and what to throw away are also vital to a successful life. If you keep everything your life becomes cluttered with too many things, you may also be stopping others from enjoying opportunities. By only keeping what you need you keep the options open for future opportunities and you keep your resources available for the future.

Back to my fishing lesson. It turned out to be a blast! and there was nothing quite like catching that first fish – squeals of delight were ubiquitous that day (who knew catch-and-release would turn me into giddy 13 year old?).