Neglect me not!

Pamper

“Avi, wash your face?”

“I did mom”

“Last I heard, people still used water and soap, not hand sanitizer to wash. And change your clothes…”

“I hardly wore them for a week….they are cool.”

We all get into this banter with our Tweens. I am supposed to head out to dinner, for a change, to a place where they didn’t serve on trays….well I do wish now we had gone to Burger King rather than to these fancy places.

What’s the opposite of pamper – neglect? Some of us do not like to acknowledge some  sections of society are neglected…so let us just say some privileged people in society are pampered more than others. For instance, the lady at the reception takes it up as her job profile to find and pamper those who she would like to wait lesser, treated better, respected. I guess it’s not her fault…how is she supposed to guess you make 200/hour if you don’t spend money grooming your hair.

So…after giving us this look like we haven’t showered for a week, she went on to say she would text us when a table becomes available.

“Ummm…you need my number?”

“Yes, yes” she hits some keys.

After noticing some 20 + empty tables offered to walk-ins, I ask her again. She says she tried to text/find me.

“I was right there…anyway…what’s the number you have for me?”

She scrolls through her waiting list, unable to find my name nor my number. Strange, huh?

Well….everything happens for the good….now my Tween has learnt the valuable lesson in life that he needs to dress like a million dollars, who cares if he is on honor roll or the pride of his family. That he will be judged by the color of his skin and his iPhone version, who cares if he will be the future President of this fancy restaurant or of this country.

Hierarchy – Part 1

Layered

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Our society adheres to an open social stratification system; meaning society works mostly in an hierarchical order based on merits or one’s efforts. Most Governments have a head and the ministries or departments support the head. Corporations have hierarchies too. A CEO usually is at the top and the reporting structure is usually a pyramid hierarchy. Look at the family structure, there is a hierarchy as well, though sometimes not formally defined. Hierarchy in the family is dynamic. Depending on the type of task, the decision maker is sometimes the mother and at other times father. Hierarchy in all these examples is power/responsibility based.

Let us look at the Consumer side of things. There is hierarchy here too. There are membership levels like platinum, gold, silver, etc. When it comes to shareholders of a corporation, there are some who are preferentially treated; these are preferred shareholders. In transportation industry you have first class, business class, etc. On the consumer side it is mostly based on consumer’s worth.

Human society has established and found its best fit over many centuries. I wonder if there will be  peace and order without hierarchy. As long as humans are dependent on each other, resources are limited and decision making is involved, there is hierarchy. A select few make decisions for the whole. These select few who are the top of the decision chain are better decision makers. They are perceived better at decision making either because of experience or wisdom or intelligence.

There is one area where everyone is treated equal. Elections in democracy. I am talking about the popular democratic nations. Every person  has one vote. No more and  no less. Why is that the case? As in most cases some processes were started long back and have been followed without change for we humans don’t like change. Processes made sense the way they were because of limitations in past. We had tremendous advancements in the human society and most of these limitations in the past are no more limitations. We don’t have to follow the same traditions/processes. Should all be given one vote in elections? In almost every arrangement of humans there is hierarchy or preference. With all the technological advancements at hand is it not possible that elections be based on an algorithm involving multiple factors rather than simple entitlement.

So how do we aim for this election system that is algorithm based without creating a bias? There is an argument that the government should be run like a corporation and president should run it like a CEO. If country is a corporation, the voter is a shareholder. Not all shareholders are treated alike by a corporation. There are preferred shareholders. So why not preferred voters. May be  people who give better share of their salary as tax should be given preferred vote. If you pay 30% tax then your vote is counted as 1.3. If you pay 0% tax then your vote is counted 1. The rich (who may pay more tax in terms of amount) are not necessarily favored here but the person who is paying higher percentage of tax. With so much digital data and computing power we have in this age, it’s not difficult to do this computation.

It doesn’t have to be tax based alone. It can be based on multiple factors such as military service, residency status, age. The decisions made by the government have short term and long term effects. But most decisions’ effect takes place in decades that follow. So the younger people have more at stake in the decisions as it might affect them for a longer period than the old. So why not give them more preference. People in 20s get 1.1 votes, people in 30s get 1.3, in 40s get 1.4 and everybody else gets 1. The  40s group in the younger lot get preference for they have experience and wisdom to make a better decision.

Some might argue that some are disadvantaged by this. They might say that they are not getting the fair share. They are not entirely taken out of the voting system but are given lower priority. When we give the responsibility to the CEOs, Presidents, etc. we trust them to make better decisions. When we give more preference to some voters we are giving that preference to make better decision.

If we look closely at the electoral college in the united states, it has come down to giving preference to some states because of the political leaning of the states. The people in these states have become more important. Replacing electoral college with voter weighted system won’t do any bad. If  we can debate this weighted voter idea and let universities do research,  we will have a better understanding. In this world of fake news, people being angry for their economic situation a learned and measured decision is hard to come by. But a dialog is important….after all what is democracy.

IRMA

Penchant

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We would like to be on opposite sides across various tables but the thing that still binds us together is the penchant to be human. To all my fellow Irma survivors, seriously how many of you could get a wink of sleep in the days and nights it took for the howler to cross the state. If per chance, you were like me and forgot your faith I am sure you remembered all your childhood prayers, be it Hail Mary, Om Shanti or Allahu Akbar. In my part of town, Jacksonville, the power vanished when it was probably 100 mph outside… who knows… the constant commentary of the weather channel silenced now. I did not even know the dodge baller Irma actually came pretty close to us. I walked around with a candle checking to make sure my kids didn’t get blown away. My son said, “Mom you were scarier than the storm….crazy candle lady walking around at 2 am.” Jokes apart, in the morning I discovered the true spirit of the USA that so many of us fell in love with when we got off our boats/planes.

In a world where freedom to choose is the root to so much evil, a simple person can make a choice to be kind….and God how much difference it makes. It makes all the difference between a monster hurricane Irma defeating man versus humanity defeating hurricane Irma. Kudos to every lineman in Florida who worked their behinds to restore power, kudos to every neighbor who extended their generator to the family next door, kudos to every fish market that gave out free ice to everyone who asked and so much more kindness to go around, it is hard to list it all.

In the state of fear we have been living in these days, where blacks fear whites, browns don’t belong and whites feel uprooted, I have seen my entire community come around, all colors and orientations, to clean up debris, open up their homes to evacuees, hand out water and ice, rescue people on boats. These people will probably never be acknowledged but they did what they did because of love. And as long as there is more love than hate in this world (and I have learnt my evacuation route by rote), I will feel safe.

 

Guess What?

Satisfaction

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There’s so much to love, so much to hate,

The satisfaction from beaches, scorching sunshine and Coke….. guess the State?

 

Lollipop Memories

Lollipop

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Stubby little fingers feeding pigeons perched on a loft beneath the window sill.

The rotund pushing the frail aside; how she wished she could feed them all.

Her mother calls and she scurries, across the terrace that singed her bare feet.

She plows into a massive form and yet she cannot wait or stall.

Mother hands a note that says ‘pint of milk’ with a rupee and sends her off.

Papers dancing in trifling whirl winds, open drains with paper boats.

Cycle skidding in the dust, hawker selling sullied ice cream cones,

And when a scarce car whooshes by,

The urchins race across to break their bones.

The counter-top at general store is too high;

The peddler smiles at enormous eyes and knows their name.

He hands the change and while she gawks;

At neat stacks of jars with soggy biscuits and lollipops;

He wonders if she ever talks.

She flits back home, she hands the change.

Twenty years subsequent, she gazes at buildings with a hundred floors, watching the sun skim windows on building tops.

Still haunted by native dust and smelly alleys, lazy street dogs and broken kites;

Insufferably longing for soggy biscuits and lollipops.