About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My name is Song, I am a Tuk Tuk rider

This last post for the month is dedicated to one person who does his job with a smile despite all the hardships and difficulties of earning a living in a third third world country.

Song was my Tuk Tuk rider from Siem Riep, Cambodia many many years ago when we went to visit the temples of Angkor.

Song was always greeting us in the morning on time and with a smile plastered on his face that hid all the hardships of living in Siem Riep.

As a Tuk Tuk rider, he was very knowledgeable, took us to places where locals go as well as all the important temples in Angkor, he was flexible, he was on time and he was very careful and calm.

Over my short period in Siem Riep, we sort of became friends. I visited his house and family (at that time he had a wife and a daughter but I come to understand he now has a son as well).

What surprised me the most about Song is that he kept in touch. About a year after our visit to Siem Riep, I received this call from Song on Christmas to wish me and wifey greetings from him and his family.

And year in year out for the past few years, I have received calls from him at least twice yearly and I too sometimes just give him a call - friendship after all has to be two ways.

Over years, I have asked my friends if they required a Tuk Tuk rider in Siem Riep, I know just the guy. Unfortunately, most of them had tours arranged or vans or etc etc.

Nevertheless, anytime someone were to go to Siem Riep, I would ask them if they needed a Tuk Tuk rider.

Recently, a friend went and this time, she took up the offer and I was happy to inform Song that I had a customer for him. (The pictures here are the courtesy of my friend as I cannot find my old pictures of him from more than 5 years ago when I first met him.)

I got the friend of mine to buy some chocolates for Song and his family which she duly did.

And of course he called me to thank me for it. He said his 2 kids were very happy because they were eating chocolates for the first time ever in their lives.

Song has had a tough life, as many do in such countries. Cambodia has been torn apart by the Khmer Rouge and yet the smiles of the people, the smiles on Song, the pure heart - we have a lot to learn from these people.

If you've not been to Siem Riep, go.

If you need a Tuk Tuk rider, call Song. His number is +855 977 600 077.

I am sure he will treat you well, and you will not be disappointed.

God bless you Song and your family. I am glad your children got to try chocolates for the first time. I am sure they will grow up to be as wonderful a person as you and your wife are.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My name is Paul and now I rest in peace

by Richard Carter – Tue Oct 26, 11:18 am ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Paul the octopus, who shot to fame during this year's football World Cup for his flawless record in predicting game results, has died peacefully in his sleep, his German aquarium said Tuesday.

"Management and staff at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre were devastated to discover that oracle octopus Paul, who achieved global renown during the recent World Cup, had passed away overnight," the aquarium said in a statement.

"He appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes," said Sea Life manager Stefan Porwoll.

"His success made him almost a bigger story than the World Cup itself... We had all naturally grown very fond of him and he will be sorely missed."

Paul, who was nearly three, beat the odds during the World Cup by correctly forecasting all eight games he was asked to predict, including Spain's 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the final.

For the prediction, two boxes were lowered into the salty soothsayer's tank, each containing a mussel and the flags of the two opposing teams.

Watched by a myriad of reporters, Paul would head to one box, wrench open the lid and gobble the tasty morsel, with the box he plumped for being deemed the likely winner.

His astonishing ability made him a global media phenomenon. His later predictions were carried live on rolling news channels in Germany.

Within two hours of his death, more than 250 messages of condolence were posted on Paul's "official" Facebook page.

"Paul, we will never forget you. We love you," wrote one. "There will never be an octopus as cool as you again," wrote another.

"RIP in octopus heaven," wished a third member of Paul's nearly 60,000-strong Facebook fan club.

One user of microblogging site Twitter wrote: "Paul the octopus is dead. Bet he didn't see that coming."

Meanwhile Paul himself "wrote" from beyond the grave on his Facebook page: "It seems, my time has come, finally. Take care everybody. Hugs and don't forget me."

The eight-legged oracle became a media superstar for his skills, but he naturally fell out with fans whose teams he failed to tip.

He was slammed in the British press for treason after tipping Germany to beat his "home country" which they duly did, 4-1.

He then fell offside with bitter German fans who threatened to turn him into sushi after he correctly predicted a semi-final defeat for the Mannschaft against Spain.
Stung by Paul's "treachery", some sections of the 350,000-strong crowd watching the game on giant screens in Berlin sang anti-octopus songs.

The honour of Paul's mother was also called into question in the stands, and Paul's home aquarium received death-threat emails saying "we want Paul for the pan."
No less an authority than Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero called for octopus bodyguards.

But Paul's fans need not despair too much at his death. The aquarium has already been grooming a successor, to be named Paul like his mentor.

Paul's body is now in cold storage while the aquarium decides "how best to mark his passing."

"We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine," said Porwoll.

"While this may seem a curious thing to do for a sea creature, Paul achieved such popularity during his short life that it may be deemed the most appropriate course of action."

Rest in peace Paul, you'll be remembered here for sure.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My name is Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and I fly high

It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a
gentle sea. A mile from shore a fishing boat chummed the water. and the
word for Breakfast Flock flashed through the air, till a crowd of a
thousand seagulls came to dodge and fight for bits of food. It was another
busy day beginning.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is a fable in novella form about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection.

I read this book when I was 15 and there was also a documetary movie made using some music by Neil Diamond.

The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with the daily squabbles over food.

Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying, until finally his unwillingness to conform results in his expulsion from his flock.

An outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities as he leads an idyllic life.

One day, Jonathan is met by two gulls who take him to a "higher plane of existence" (a possible allusion to the beliefs of traditional Chinese, in that there is no heaven but a better world found through perfection of knowledge), where he meets other gulls who love to fly.

He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him "pretty well a one-in-a-million bird." Jonathan befriends the wisest gull in this new place, named Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning, teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe.

The secret, Chiang says, is to "begin by knowing that you have already arrived..." Not satisfied with his new life, Jonathan returns to Earth to find others like him, to bring them his learning and to spread his love for flight. His mission is successful, gathering around him others who have been outlawed for not conforming.

Ultimately, the very first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher in his own right and Jonathan leaves to teach other flocks.

"To begin with " he said heavily, "you've got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your thought itself." The young gulls looked at him quizzically. Hey, man, they thought,this doesn't sound like a rule for a loop. Fletcher sighed and started over. "Hm. Ah... very well," he said, and eyed them critically. "Let's begin with Level Flight." And saying that, he understood all at once that his friend had quite honestly been no more divine than Fletcher himself. No limits, Jonathan? he thought. Well, then, the time's not distant when I'm going to appear out of thin air on your beach, and show you a thing or two about flying! And though he tried to look properly severe for his students,Fletcher Seagull suddenly saw them all as they really were, just for a moment, and he more than liked, he loved what he saw. No limits, Jonathan?he thought, and he smiled. His race to learn had begun.

Take care and be well.

Note: The New York Times, July 3, 1974

Des Moines, Iowa, July 2 - John H. Livingston, the man who inspired the best-selling novel "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," died Sunday at the Pompano Beach (Fla.) Airport soon after completing his last plane ride.

Richard Bach, a former Iowa Air Guard pilot, has said his best-selling book about a free-wheeling seagull was inspired by Mr. Livingston.

Johnny Livingston, as he was known, moved many years ago from Iowa to Florida. He was one of the country's top pilots during the barnstorming days of the nineteen-twenties and thirties. From 1928 through 1933, Mr. Livingston won 79 first places, 43 seconds and 15 thirds in 139 races throughout the country, many of them at Cleveland. He won first place and $13,910 in 1928 in a cross-country race from New York to Los Angeles.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My name is Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad or is it?

3 Idiots is one of the best movies I have watched this year.

It is a 2009 movie.

Nevertheless, one of the best feel good type movies one could watch, and if you have yet to watch, go get a DVD.

Even if you are not a big fan of Hindi movies, which I am not, this is not a typical Hindi movie. Well, most Aamir Khan movies are not typical Hindi movies, so even a non-Hindi speaking person could easily enjoy this movies by reading the subtitles and enjoying the scenes and the storyline.

The following is take directly from Wikipedia for you to have an understanding of what the movie is all about.

Farhan Qureshi (R. Madhavan), Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi), and Rancchoddas "Rancho" Shyamaldas Chanchad (Aamir Khan) are three engineering students who share a room in a hostel at the Imperial College of Engineering, one of the best colleges in India.

While Farhan and Raju are average students from modest backgrounds, Rancho is from a rich family. Farhan wants to become a wildlife photographer, but has joined engineering college to fulfill his father's wish. Raju on the other hand wants to uplift his family fortunes. Rancho is a wealthy genius who studies for the sheer joy of it. However, Rancho's passion is for knowledge and taking apart and building machines rather than the conventional obsession of the other students with exam ranks. With his different approach Rancho incurs the wrath of dean of college, Professor Viru Sahastrabudhhe (ViruS) (Boman Irani).

Rancho irritates his lecturers by giving creative and unorthodox answers, and confronts ViruS after fellow student Joy Lobo hangs himself in his dormitory room. Joy had requested an extension on his major project on compassionate grounds—his father had suffered a stroke—but ViruS refused, saying that he himself was completely unmoved by his own son's accidental death after being hit by a train. Rancho denounces the rat race, dog-eat-dog, mindless rote learning mentality of the institution, blaming it for Lobo's death.

Threatened by Rancho's talent and free spirit, ViruS labels him an "idiot" and attempts on a number of occasions to destroy his friendship with Farhan and Raju, warning them and their parents to steer clear of Rancho. In contrast, ViruS’ model student is Chatur Ramalingam or "Silencer", (Omi Vaidya) who sees a high rank at the prestigious college as his ticket to higher social status, corporate power, and therefore wealth.

Chatur conforms to the expectations of the system. Rancho humiliates Chatur, who is awarded the honour of making a speech at an award ceremony, by substituting obscenities into the text, which has been written by the librarian. As expected, Chatur mindlessly memorises the speech, without noticing that anything is amiss, partly aided by his lack of knowledge on Hindi. His speech becomes the laughing stock of the audience, infuriating the authorities in the process.

Meanwhile, Rancho also falls in love with ViruS' medical student daughter Pia (Kareena Kapoor) when he, Raju and Farhan crash her sister's wedding banquet in order to get a free meal, in the process further infuriating ViruS.

Meanwhile, the three students continue to anger ViruS, although Rancho continues to come first in every exam, while Chatur is always second, and Farhan and Raju are inevitably in the last two positions. The tensions come to a head when the three friends, who are already drunk, break into ViruS's house at night to allow Rancho to propose to Pia, and then urinate on a door inside the compound before running away when ViruS senses intruders. The next day, ViruS threatens to expel Raju lest he talks on the other two. Unable to choose between betraying his friend or letting down his family, Raju jumps out of the 3rd floor window and lands on a courtyard, but after extensive care from Pia and his roommates, awakes from a coma.

The experience has changed Farhan and Raju, and they adopt Rancho's outlook. Farhan decides to pursue his love of photography, while Raju takes an unexpected approach for an interview for a corporate job. He attends in plaster and a wheelchair and gives a series of non-conformal and frank answers.

However, ViruS is unsympathetic and vows to make the final exam as hard as possible so that Raju is unable to graduate. Pia hears him and angrily confronts him, and when ViruS gives the same ruthless reply he gives to his students, she denounces him in the same way that Rancho did over the suicide of Lobo. Pia reveals that Viru's son and her brother was not killed in an accident but committed suicide in front of a train and left a letter because ViruS had forced him to pursue a career in engineering over his love for literature; ViruS always mentioned that he unsympathetically failed his son on the ICE entrance exams over and over to every new intake of ICE students.

After this, Pia walks out on the family home, and takes ViruS's spare keys with her. She tells Rancho of the exam, and he and Farhan break into ViruS's office and steals the exam and give it to Raju, who with his new-found attitude, is unconcerned with the prospect of failing, and refuses to cheat and throws the paper away.

However, ViruS catches the trio and expels them on the spot. However, they earn a reprieve when Viru's pregnant elder daughter Mona (Mona Singh) goes into labour at the same time. A heavy storm cuts all power and traffic, and Pia is still in self-imposed exile, so she instructs Rancho to deliver the baby in the college common room via VOIP, after Rancho restores power using car batteries and a power inverter that Rancho had dreamed up and ViruS had mocked. Rancho then delivers the baby with the help of a cobbled-together Vacuum extractor.

After the baby is apparently stillborn, Rancho resuscitates it. ViruS reconciles with Rancho and his friends and allows them to take their final exams and they graduate. Rancho comes first and is awarded ViruS's pen, which the professor had been keeping for decades before finding a brilliant enough student to gift it to.

Their story is framed as intermittent flashbacks from the present day, ten years after Chatur vowed revenge on Rancho for embarrassing him at the speech night and promised to become more successful than Rancho a decade later. Having lost contact with Rancho, who disappeared during the graduation party and went into seclusion, Raju and Farhan begin a journey to find him.

They are joined by Chatur, now a wealthy and successful businessman, who joins them, brazenly confident that he has surpassed Rancho. Chatur is also looking to seal a deal with a famous scientist and prospective business associate named Phunsukh Wangdu.

Chatur sees Wangdu, who has hundreds of patents, as his ticket to further social prestige. When they find Rancho's house in Shimla, they walk into his father's funeral, and find a completely different Rancho (Jaaved Jaffrey). After accusing the new man of stealing their friend's identity and profiting from his intellect, the host pulls a gun on them, but Farhan and Raju turn the tables by seizing the father's ashes and threatening to flush them down the toilet.

The householder capitulates and says that their friend was a destitute servant boy who loved learning, while he, the real Rancho, was a lazy wealthy child who disliked study, so the family agreed to let the servant boy study in Rancho's place instead of labouring. In return, the real Rancho would pocket the qualifications and the benefits thereof, while the impersonator would sever all contact with the world and start a new life. The real Rancho reveals that his impersonator is now a schoolteacher in Ladakh.

Raju and Farhan then find Pia, and take her from her wedding day to Suhas by performing the same tricks with his material possessions, and having Raju turn up to the ceremony disguised as the groom and eloping with Pia in public. When they arrive in Ladakh, they see a group of enthusiastic Ladakhi children who are motivated by love of knowledge.

Pia and the fake Rancho rekindle their love, while Chatur mocks and abuses Rancho the schoolteacher. He asks Rancho to sign on a DECLARATION OF DEFEAT document. And sees that Rancho is using the pen which ViruS had gifted him. Chatur snatches the pen from Rancho and starts to move back. When Rancho's friends ask what his real name is, he reveals that his real name is Phunsukh Wangdu and phones Chatur, who has turned his back, and tells him that he will not be able to sign the deal with him because he has his pen. He asks Chatur to turn around meet his prospective business partner. Chatur is horrified and falls to his knees, accepts his defeat and continues to plead his case with Phunsukh to establish the business relationship he was after.

Well, I hope that you will watch the movie and enjoy it, I surely did.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My name is Wen Jiabao

Following is a speech in Cambridge University in England by CHinese Premier Wen Jiaboao sometime in 2009. It is a little long read but quite interesting.

Vice Chancellor Alison Richard, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to come to Cambridge, a world-renowned university that I have long wanted to visit. Cambridge has produced many great scientists and thinkers Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Francis Bacon, to name but a few, and made important contribution to the progress of human civilization. This year marks the 800th anniversary of the university. Please accept my warm congratulations.

This is my fourth visit to your country. Despite the great distance between China and Britain , the friendly exchanges between our peoples have been on the rise. The successful resolution of the question of Hong Kong and fruitful cooperation between our two countries in areas such as economy, trade, culture, education, science and technology have cemented the foundation of our comprehensive strategic partnership. Here, I wish to pay high tribute to all those who have been working tirelessly to promote friendly ties between our two countries.

The title of my speech today is "See China in the Light of Her Development".

My beloved motherland is a country both old and young.

She is old, because she is a big Oriental country with a civilization stretching back several thousand years. With diligence and wisdom, the Chinese nation created a splendid civilization and made significant contributions to the progress of humanity.

She is young, because the People's Republic is just 60 years old, and the country began reform and opening-up only 30 years ago. The Chinese people established the New China after unremitting struggles and ultimately found a development path suited to China 's national conditions through painstaking efforts. This is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Following this path, our ancient civilization has been rejuvenated.

The key element of China 's reform and opening-up is to free people's mind and the most fundamental and significant component is institutional innovation. Through economic reform, we have built a socialist market economy, where the market plays a primary role in allocating resources under government macro-regulation. We have carried out political reform, promoted democracy and improved the legal system. People are the masters of the country. We run the country according to law and endeavor to build a socialist country under the rule of law.

The essence of China 's reform and opening-up is to put people first and meet their ever growing material and cultural needs through releasing and developing productive forces. It aims to give everyone equal opportunities for all-round development. It aims to protect the democratic rights of the people and promote stability, harmony and prosperity across the land. And it aims to safeguard the dignity and freedom of everyone so that he or she may pursue happiness with ingenuity and hard work.

Over the past three decades, more than 200 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, the average life expectancy has increased by 5 years, and the 83 million people with disabilities in China have received special care from the government and the society. All this points to the tremendous efforts China has made to protect human rights. We have introduced free nine-year compulsory education throughout the country, established the cooperative medical system in the rural areas and improved the social safety net. The age-old dream of the Chinese nation is being turned into reality a dream to see the young educated, the sick treated and the old cared for.

I want to quote from a Tang Dynasty poem to describe what is happening in China , "From shore to shore it is wide at high tide, and before fair wind a sail is lifting." The Chinese people are working hard to modernize their country. This is a great practice in a large developing country both ancient and new. The Chinese people, with destiny in their own hands, are full of confidence in their future.

My beloved motherland is a country that stood numerous vicissitudes but never gave up. Earlier in my career, I worked in northwest China for many years. There, in the boundless desert, grows a rare variety of tree called euphrates poplar. Rooted over 50 meters down the ground, they thrive in hostile environments, defying droughts, sandstorms and salinization. They are known as the "hero tree", because a euphrates poplar can live for a thousand years. Even after it dies, it stands upright for a thousand years, and even after it falls, it stays intact for another thousand years. I like euphrates poplar because they symbolize the resilience of the Chinese nation.

Over the millennia, the Chinese nation has weathered numerous disasters, both natural and man-made, surmounted all kinds of difficulties and challenges, and made her way to where she proudly stands today. The long sufferings have only made her a nation of fortitude and perseverance. The experience of the Chinese nation attests to a truth: what a nation loses in times of disaster will be made up for by her progress.

I am reminded of the experience that I had in Wenchuan , Sichuan Province after the devastating earthquake there last May. That earthquake shocked the whole world. It flattened Beichuan Middle School and claimed many young lives. But only 10 days after the earthquake, when I went there for the second time, I had before my eyes new classrooms built on debris by local villagers with planks. Once again, the campus echoed with the sound of students reading aloud. I wrote down 4 Chinese characters on the blackboard, meaning "A country will emerge stronger from adversities." I have been to Wenchuan seven times since the earthquake and witnessed countless touching scenes like this. I am deeply moved by the unyielding spirit of my people. This great national spirit is the source of strength which has enabled the Chinese nation to emerge from all the hardships stronger than before.

With hard work over the past half century and more, China has achieved great progress. Its total economic output is now one of the largest in the world. However, we remain a developing country and we are keenly aware of the big gap that we have with the developed countries. There has been no fundamental change in our basic national condition: a big population, weak economic foundation and uneven development. China 's per capita GDP ranks behind 100 countries in the world and is only about 1/18 that of Britain .

To basically achieve modernization by the middle of this century, we must accomplish three major tasks: first, achieve industrialization, which Europe has long completed, while keeping abreast of the latest trends of the scientific and technological revolution; second, promote economic growth while ensuring social equity and justice; and third, pursue sustainable development at home while accepting our share of international responsibilities. The journey ahead will be long and arduous, but no amount of difficulty will stop the Chinese people from marching forward. Through persistent efforts, we will reach our goal.

My beloved motherland is a country that values her traditions while opening her arms to the outside world.

The traditional Chinese culture is rich, extensive and profound. Harmony, the supreme value cherished in ancient China , lies at the heart of the Chinese culture. The Book of History, an ancient classic in China for example, advocates amity among people and friendly exchanges among nations.

The Chinese cultural tradition values peace as the most precious. This has nurtured the broad mind of the Chinese nation. The Chinese nation is generous and tolerant, just as Mother Earth cares for all living things. She is in constant pursuit of justice, just as the eternal movement of the Universe.

In the 15th century, the famous Chinese navigator Zheng He led seven maritime expeditions to the Western Seas and reached over 30 countries. He took with him Chinese tea, silk and porcelain and helped local people fight pirates as he sailed along. He was truly a messenger of love and friendship.

The argument that a big power is bound to seek hegemony does not apply to China . Seeking hegemony goes against China 's cultural tradition as well as the will of the Chinese people. China 's development harms no one and threatens no one. We shall be a peace-loving country, a country that is eager to learn from and cooperate with others. We are committed to building a harmonious world.

Different countries and nations need to respect, tolerate and learn from each other's culture. Today, 300 million Chinese are learning English and over one million of our young people are studying abroad. The cultures and arts of various parts of the world are featured daily on China 's television, radio and print media. Had we not learned from others through exchanges and enriched ourselves by drawing on others' experience, we would not have enjoyed today's prosperity and progress.

In the 21st century, economic globalization and the information network have linked us all together. Different cultures live together and influence each other. No culture can flourish in isolation. How much a country or a nation contributes to the culture of humanity is increasingly determined by her ability to absorb foreign cultures and renew herself. That is why China will remain open and receptive, value her own traditions while drawing on others' successful experience, and achieve economic prosperity and social progress in a civilized and harmonious way.

I stress the importance of seeing China in the light of her development, because the world is changing and China is changing. China is no longer the closed and backward society it was 100 years ago, or the poor and ossified society 30 years ago. Thanks to reform and opening-up, China has taken on a new look. What the Beijing Olympic Games showcased is a colorful China , both ancient and modern. I therefore encourage you to visit China more often and see more places there. This way, you will better understand what the Chinese people are thinking and doing, and what they are interested in. You will get to know the true China , a country constantly developing and changing. You will also better appreciate how China has been tackling the ongoing global financial crisis.

This unprecedented financial crisis has inflicted a severe impact on both China and Britain as well as other European countries. The crisis has not yet hit the bottom, and it is hard to predict what further damage it may cause. To work together and tide over the difficulties has become our top priority.

I believe that closer cooperation is needed to meet the global crisis, and the level of cooperation hinges upon the level of mutual trust. The Chinese Government maintains that countries should: first and foremost, run their own affairs well and refrain from shifting troubles onto others; second, carry out cooperation with full sincerity and avoid pursuing one's own interests at the expense of others; and third, address both the symptoms and the root cause of the problem. A palliative approach will not work. We should not treat only the head when the head aches, and the foot when the foot hurts. As I reiterated at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, necessary reform of the international monetary and financial systems should be carried out to establish a new international financial order that is fair, equitable, inclusive and well-managed. We should create an institutional environment conducive to global economic growth.

Let me talk briefly about how China has been responding to the crisis.

The fallout of the financial crisis on China 's real economy is becoming more evident. Since the third quarter of last year, our exports have declined sharply, economic growth has slowed down, and the pressure on employment has been rising. In the face of the grim situation, we have acted decisively. We have made timely adjustment to the direction of our macroeconomic policy, promptly introduced ten measures to expand domestic demand, and formulated a series of related policies. Together, they make up a systematic and comprehensive package plan aimed at promoting steady and relatively fast economic growth. Its main contents are:

First, substantially increase government spending to boost domestic demand. The Chinese Government has announced a two-year investment program that will generate, through fiscal spending, a total investment of RMB 4 trillion nationwide, equivalent to 16% of China's GDP in 2007. The money will mainly go into government-subsidized housing, projects related to the well-being of rural residents, the construction of railway and other infrastructural projects, social development programs, environmental protection and post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction. The Chinese Government has introduced a massive tax-cut program, which will reduce the tax burdens on businesses and individuals by about RMB 500 billion each year. We have also cut interest rates by a large margin, increased liquidity in the banking system and adopted a range of financial measures.

Second, implement a large-scale industrial restructuring and rejuvenation program. We are pushing forward industrial restructuring and upgrading across the board and formulating plans for the restructuring and revitalization of ten key industries, including automobiles and iron and steel. We will take economic and technological measures to boost energy conservation and reduce emissions, and promote merger and reorganization of enterprises to raise the level of industry concentration and the efficiency of resource allocation. We encourage and support the extensive application of new technologies, techniques, equipment and materials and the development of marketable products by enterprises.

Third, make energetic efforts for progress and innovation in science and technology. Science and technology are of fundamental importance in overcoming the financial crisis. A major crisis is usually followed by a revolution in science and technology, and no economic recovery is possible without technological innovation. We are stepping up the implementation of the National Program for Medium- and Long-Term Scientific and Technological Development, with special emphasis on 16 major projects including core electronic devices, development and use of nuclear energy and advanced numerically controlled machine tools. We will strive to make breakthroughs in a host of core technologies and key generic technologies to support sustainable economic growth at a higher level. We will promote the development of high-tech industrial clusters and cultivate new economic growth areas. All in all, we will rely on major breakthroughs in science and technology to foster new social demand and bring about a new round of economic boom.

Fourth, significantly raise the level of social security. We will continue to increase basic pension for enterprise retirees and upgrade the standard of unemployment insurance and workers' compensation. We will raise the level of basic cost of living allowances in both urban and rural areas and welfare allowances for those rural residents without family support. We are advancing the reform of the medical and health system and working to put in place a nationwide basic medical and health system covering both urban and rural areas within three years and achieve the goal of everyone having access to basic medical and health service. We give priority to education and are now working on the Guidelines of the National Program for Medium- and Long-Term Educational Reform and Development. We are following a more active employment policy with special emphasis on helping college graduates and migrant workers find jobs. We are endeavoring to create more jobs and lessen the impact of the financial crisis on employment. The aforementioned measures will help us boost domestic demand, readjust and reinvigorate industries, enhance the support of science and technology and strengthen social security all at the same time. They will stimulate consumption through increased investment, drive economic growth while improving people's livelihood and creating more jobs, and see us through current difficulties while also improving the long-term prospect of the Chinese economy. They will not only benefit China 's development, but also bring enormous business opportunities to other countries, Britain included.

This once-in-a-century financial crisis is truly thought-provoking. It reminds us of the need to have serious reflections on the existing economic systems and theories.

For many years in the past, China practiced a highly centralized planned economy and regarded planning as being absolute. This hampered the development of productivity. The ongoing financial crisis has made it clear to us, however, that the market is not a cure-all, either. A totally laissez-faire approach will inevitably lead to economic disorder and unfair social distribution, and will eventually take its toll. A credible market-oriented reform should never set the market against government macro-regulation. The invisible hand of the market and the visible hand of government and social supervision should both act, and act vigorously. Only in this way can resources be distributed according to market rules and distributed in a reasonable, coordinated, balanced and sustainable manner.

The international financial crisis once again shows how dangerous a market economy without regulation can be. Since the 1990s, some profit-driven financial institutions in economies lacking effective regulation have raised massive capital with a leverage of dozens of times. While they reaped huge profits, the world was exposed to enormous risks. This fully demonstrates that a totally unregulated market economy cannot work. We must strike a balance between financial innovation and regulation, between the financial sector and real economy, and between savings and consumption.

To effectively meet the crisis, we must fully recognize the role of morality. Nothing is greater than morality. It shines even more brightly than the sun. True economic theories will never come into conflict with the highest moral and ethical standards. Instead, they should stand for justice and integrity, and contribute in an equal way to the well-being of all people, including the most vulnerable ones. Adam Smith, known as the father of modern economics, held the view in The Theory of Moral Sentiments that if the fruits of a society's economic development cannot be shared by all, it is morally unsound and risky, as it is bound to jeopardize social stability. The loss of morality is an underlying cause for the current crisis. Some people have sacrificed principle and sought profits at the expense of public interests. They have crossed the moral baseline. We should call on all enterprises to take up their social responsibilities. Within the body of every businessman should flow the blood of morality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Britain is the last leg of my European trip. I have gained a deeper understanding of Europe through this visit. China-EU cooperation is now standing at a new historical starting point and I am all the more confident about the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. There are no outstanding issues left over from history or conflict of fundamental interests between the two sides. What we have is a solid foundation and a bright future for cooperation. As the first industrialized country, Britain has accumulated rich experience in economic development and environmental protection. We hope to learn from your experience and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with you.

The future belongs to the younger generation. It is incumbent upon you to build an even more splendid future of China-Britain relations. Here and now, I cannot but mention Dr. Joseph Needham, a Cambridge alumnus who made important contribution to cultural exchanges between China and Britain . With his monumental masterpiece, Science and Civilization in China , he built a bridge between the two great civilizations of East and West. To honor tradition and innovation is the outstanding character of Cambridge . I hope more of you will turn your eyes to China , see my country in the light of her development, and act as ambassadors of China-Britain friendship. I believe that as long as you, the young people of China and Britain learn from each other and strive for progress hand in hand, you will add a brilliant new chapter to the annals of our relations.

Thank you!

Taek care and be well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My name is Claude Champion de Crespigny

The story begins with a Mr. C.C. (Claude Champion) de Crespigny, then the Resident of Baram, who was the first to record the presence of oil in Sarawak. The entry in his diary, dated 31st July 1882, refers to oil discovered in some 18 wells dug by hand by the local inhabitants.

'Earth Oil' (Minyak Tanah) was their name for it. Ever since this strange substance appeared in seepages, its possibilities had begun to be realised. They used the oil mixed with resin for chaulking boats. They also tried to use it for lighting, employing an open wick, but it invariably caught fire, usually with disastrous results to their homes. 'Earth Oil' soon earned a reputation of being possessed by a 'hantu' (ghost/spirit) with an inconvenient and insatiable desire to burn down houses.

But now officialdom had recognised its existance. De Crespigny recommended, in his report to the Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Brooke, that an investigation be made. The Rajah presumably never gave this a second thought, since nothing was done. After all, the year was 1882 and the demand for petroleum in Sarawak was nil.

The persistent de Crespigny, however, obviously saw more of a future oil than the Rajah did. In 1884, we find him again suggesting that the whole area be "thoroughly searched and reported on."

NOTE: The above was taken from various sources of information.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My name is Muniandy, Kuppusammy, Chandran, Anjali

In the wonderful resort city in Borneo with the twin mascots of Mimi and Riri, there existed a bunch of "misfit" friends called Muniandy who was a kayan boy, Kuppusammy Karupiah who was a small town Chinese boy from Kuala Lumpur with dreams of getting a butterfly tattoo on his backside, Chandran who was a big city boy with big city dreams from Kuala Lumpur and Anjali a mysterious little Iban Bidayuh girl from the wonderful resort city of Miri.

Now what about them you may ask?

Well, you'll have to find out some other time and not now.

Cause while I can write more now, I seem to have a writer's block and something I would call laziness to elaborate any more right now.

So, there existed a bunch of friends, Muniandy, Kuppusammy, Chandran and Anjali and more of them will have to wait for another day.

Until then ...

Take care and be well.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My name is Joshua Bell

In Washington DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.

During that time, 1,097 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:The musician played continuously. Only 7 people stopped and listened for a short while.

About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.17.

After 1 hour:He finished playing and silence took over.

No one noticed and no one applauded.

In that one hour, only 1 person of the 1097 people recognised the violinist. Apart from that, there was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world.

He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth about $4 million dollars.

Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the DC Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made


How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My name is Alfred Nobel

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was an inventor and known for inventing dynamite.

You did not know that did you?

You see, Alfred Nobel is now synonymous with the Nobel prizes that are awarded every year, the most popular being the Nobel Peace Prize.

He, in fact, during his life was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and as mentioned, the inventor of dynamite. Nobel held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous.

The synthetic element nobelium was named after him.

However, why did these inventor of many things that would kill and destruct, in his last will, use his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes?

You see, sometime in 1988, Alfred's brother Ludvig died while visiting France and a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred's obituary.

Firstly, for such a rich and famous person, the obituary was relatively small. And mainly condemned him for his invention of dynamite.

The obituary stated that the merchant of death is dead (Le marchand de la mort est mort) and went on to be critical about how he became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.

Alfred was disappointed what he read and very concerned with how he would be remembered after his real death and this is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death.

On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality.

He died of a stroke on 10 December 1896. After taxes and bequests to individuals, Nobel's will gave 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to about 1.8 billion kronor or 250 million US dollars in 2008) to fund the prizes.

The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work "in an ideal direction".

The fifth and obviously the most popular is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses - basically the Nobel Peace Prize.

Any idea how many Nobel Peace awards have gone to US Presidents? Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and ....... Barack Obama.

Most of us, including myself would not even be able to name last year's winner, what more, the last 5 winners. But that does not matter, while most of us do not remember the winner, we remember Nobel Prize and thus Alfred Nobel's name lives on for his prizes for peace and science rather than for him being a merchant of death.

But yet dynamite lives on, C4 plastic explosives have been invented to blow people up especially in Malaysia.

How very interesting. But I guess we do not blame Albert Einstein for his E=MC2 which was the basis for nuclear weapons and Alfred Nobel has paid his dues after his death.

It is not the inventor who kills others, it is wars, disagreements and baseless accusations amongst us that kill people.

Take care and be well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My name is Bond, James Bond.

I remember a long time ago, my dad took us to watch our first James Bond movie. This was a Roger Moore one, I believe it was The Man with the Golden Gun.

The starting of Bond movies had you gripping to your seat in excitement of the movie to follow. The action scene and the starting sequence are just wonderful.

The of course Bond himself, whether it was Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig or even George Lazenby - I love them all.

Lines like, "My name is Bond, James Bond" and "Martini, shaken not stirred" have forever become etched in my memory and is said pretty much in every Bond movie. At that time, I did not even know what a martini tasted like but it sure sounded like a cool drink.

Here are some other quotes from some Bond movies:

World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they're Napoleon. Or God. (to Dr No)

You don't think I enjoyed what we did this evening, do you? What I did tonight was for King and country! You don't think it gave me any pleasure, do you? (after making love)

The things I do for England. (while unzipping Helga's dress)

That's pretty potent. Not the cork. Your after-shave. Strong enough to bury anything. But the wine is quite excellent. Although for such a grand meal, I would have expected a claret. (to Blofeld)

That's a nice little nothing you're almost wearing! (to Tiffany)

I'm tempted to say yes immediately but I think I'd maybe have a look around. (to female receptionist who asked Bond if she could interest him in something)

I was wrong about you. I thought Christmas only comes once a year. (in bed with Dr. Christmas Jones)

Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls! (laughing - after being stuck five times with a knotted rope)

Can I offer an opinion? I really think you people should find a better place to meet. (listening to Mr. Greene and the others talk via earpieces)

And finally:
Bond: Vodka Martini.
Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?

Take care and be well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My name is Madiba, my name is William

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The above poem was written by William Ernest Henley.

At the age of 12, Henley fell victim to tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate directly below the knee. It was amputated when he was 25.

In 1875, he wrote the "Invictus" poem from a hospital bed. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.

Nelson Mandela recited the poem to other prisoners while incarcerated on Robben Island prison, and was empowered by its message of self mastery.

In the 2009 movie Invictus, produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, the poem is referenced several times. It becomes the central inspirational gift from Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, to Springbok rugby team captain François Pienaar, played by Matt Damon, in advance of the post-apartheid Rugby World Cup hosted in 1995 by South Africa and won by the underdog Springboks.

Hmmmmmmm, Inspired, I am.

Take care and be well.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My name is .....

My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or blessed, believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success.
Barack Obama

Bob Marley isn't my name. I don't even know my name yet.
Bob Marley

I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.
Benjamin Franklin

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
William Shakespeare

If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'.
John Lennon

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
Oscar Wilde

Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.
Theodore Roosevelt

If there is not the war, you don't get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don't get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name. Theodore Roosevelt

I never understood why when you died, you didn't just vanish, everything could just keep going on the way it was only you just wouldn't be there. I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph, and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say 'figment.'
Andy Warhol

Use power to help people. For we are given power not to advance our own purposes nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power and it is to serve people.
George W. Bush

You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.
Meister Eckhart

Grant me the treasure of sublime poverty: permit the distinctive sign of our order to be that it does not possess anything of its own beneath the sun, for the glory of your name, and that it have no other patrimony than begging.
Francis of Assisi

A leader does not deserve the name unless he is willing occasionally to stand alone.
Henry A. Kissinger

Take care and be well.
Nil Timbadia

Friday, October 8, 2010

My name is my work

In many cultures such as Indian and even German, it is common for one's last name/family name/surname to be their occupation.

So for example, ancestors of the world famous Formula 1 driver, Michael Schumacher were shoe makers.

My wonderful ex boss Rademacher's ancestors were Wheel(roda) makers.

In Gujarati culture, people were literally named after their jobs as well like Gheewalla was one who sold Ghee, Dudhwalla a guy who sold milk etc etc.

Unfortunately, with names like this, the family was stuck in the same job for generations, so in some way a unwarranted cast system was created.

Even nowadays, I see the trend appearing back. People literally putting their occupations as their names.

Most common is doctors, their card will read Dr. so and so and people will call them doctor like it was their last name.

Some people are so proud that they even put their titles in their business cards, like PMP (Project Management Professional) - so PMP is their last name.

Similarly to all these titles that are given out by royalty, Datuk, Tan Sri, Tun etc etc including PJK, PJM etc etc.

And all the so called elected representatives that we can no longer refer to by their names but have to call them YB (Yang Berhormat or The Respected One).

And all the royalties themselves, including rogue blogger Raja Petra. Why not just call himself Petra or Peter?

Also, those who go to Haj, have to be called Haji or Hajjah and sometimes, any elderly person wearing a kepiah, you call Haji, no matter what thier name is. But I have a friend, who is Haji, who is YB, infect YAB, even Datuk and prefers to be just called by his first name.

So, preferably, call me by my name too. And for God's sake, do not call me by my job title, or my certification or any other names concocted.

Take care and be well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My name is M

Last month I only wrote 3 blogs on happiness. I feel happy about that.

Today I am writing about names. You hear all this harping about we are all one and 1 Malaysia and all that.

You see, among the Indian community in Malaysia, at least the ones in my generation and older, you cannot tell us apart.

We all share one commonality in our names ... namely, we have the same middle name.

My middle name since I was 10 days old has been a/l which is short for anak lelaki (son of in English).

In Malaysia at least, every Indian boy in my generation has a middle name a/l and every Indian girl has a middle name of a/p.

When the computer systems changed in the registration department and no longer recognised special characters, my middle name with all the other Indian boys became al and the girls became ap.

AP by the way stands for anak perempuan or daughter of.

Similarly, all Muslim boys and Muslim girls also have the same middle name - basically bin and binti.

Now it is only the Chinese that seem to be out of sync in Malaysia - not united. Maybe it is time for them to have a similar middle name as well.

I recommend that all Chinese boys have a middle name of er zhi and the girls have nui er (which again basically translates as son of or daughter of).

Or, how about we get rid of all this nonsense in Malaysia and all of us be given one single middle syllable middle name, M.

Yup, M like James Bond's boss.

M for Malaysian.

Not Indian, not Chinese, not Malay, no distinguishing between bumiputera or non-bumiputera ... but Malaysian.

Take care and be well.