Saturday, December 23, 2017

Politics? Who? Me?

PC: Mohamed Hasan @ Pixabay

Kyunki main politics nahin kartaa!” [Because I don’t engage in politics]

In any office environment, this happens to be the standard conspiracy theory when denied a pay raise, a promotion or a day off. The insinuation is that because the sufferer was not currying favour with the higher-ups, richly deserved rewards were withheld.

While bitterness is understandable as every employee in the world, including yours truly, thinks that he is doing his best, the claim of not being political is tough to digest.

Everyone is political. Politics does not only mean standing in queue every 5 years to vote for distant people who will cheat, lie and thieve for the next 5 years. Politics is in every human interaction.

The people you have lunch with, the people you smoke a cigarette with and the people with whom you would rather do neither with – all are clear ways of defining your group. By having a group or by being part of all groups or even by choosing to go it alone, you are being political. You may not care for power or prestige but declaring that you don’t is only another sort of politics.

Life and especially the monotonous routine of office life would be ridiculously tough to survive if it were not for the interactions with fellow sufferers. The grander objectives are most often set by people and powers beyond the daily sphere of activity and all that is left is the bit of work to be handled by the individual.

It should really come as no surprise that folks want to work on that bit alongside like minded or at least united in dislike colleagues. The best bosses do appreciate efficiency and output above compatibility but despite their best attempts at neutrality, they are human too.

This is not to advocate mindless dancing to the boss’ tunes. 

This is only a gentle reminder that good rapport is good practice.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

You’re plain weird

PC: Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Yes, you. Why else would you want to travel solo? 

Don’t you have a-n-y-o-n-e who will join you? It’s just not normal, I tell you. Is there something that you are hiding, some sadness which you couldn’t share with anyone else? Wandering bustling bazaars, ancient ruins and glitzy metropolises all alone is asking for trouble, if you ask me. You seem to think that solo travel is all about doing your own thing at your own pace. It appears very simple. But simple is not easy. Have you even considered the following?

  1. It’s plain boring = How strange… don’t you need someone familiar to talk to during the journey? Of course, you’ll never meet interesting people and opinions on your solo traverse. Surely you cannot get local with locals and find strange common grounds with fellow travellers who only start out strangers. The time and freedom to do so, afforded by being on your own, mean nothing. You already knew all the interesting people and all the interesting things before you started on this trip, right? Ignore all the beaches and the mountains that await the impatient solo traveller. Making new friends to get there is no fun.

  2. It’s actually scary = What if you are solo travelling to a place where no one speaks ‘your’ language? New places and new faces. Unfamiliar names and sounds all around. Does that sound like a fun time for normal people? You surely don’t want to explore a new side of you where you use sign languages and broken grammar that might mightily embarrass your language teachers but get the job done. You wouldn’t want to experience how your worst fears do not come true. In fact, never mind the fact most people would rather help. Like Momma said, it’s a scary world out there and you wouldn’t want to risk your presumptions.

  3. You’re just not that sort of person = Even if after all that I have told you, striking out on your own to lands afar, forging unlikely friendships and having insane adventures still sounds like fun to you, you are just not that sort of a person. The smooth James Bond-type who can chat up a stranger or trust in his/her abilities to figure it out whatever be the situation, that’s not you. While real life solo travel involves embarrassing faux-pas, trial and mostly error besides stumbling through the scenario a la Mr. Bean, please don’t let reality ruin your worst misconceptions. The key to not being weird is to stay well within your comfort zones.
After all, why bother with paths mysterious & conversations unknown? It’s almost like you are in search of the true meaning and real joy of travel at the risk of uncertainty. Like you want to open a world map, look at names others have seen only on world maps and recall, with a secret inward smile, how you negotiated those places on your very own terms.

Please avoid experiencing the sheer thrill of stepping out, alone, towards the unscripted. 

Do you really want to waste time explaining to that doubting uncle back home that you are in fact perfectly normal and that solo travel has changed the way you look at yourself and the world? Why, what’s wrong with you?