Monday, May 09, 2005

Puzzlers

Here are some behaviors I have encountered that are counterintuitive to me. The fact that these peoples' behaviors surprise me is probably indicative of the stereotypes in my mind and reflects my distorted view of how things work.

1. A waiter writing water as H2O - I was lunching at Primo Patio with a friend and while ordering we asked for 2 glasses of water. The person taking our order wrote water's chemical symbol down next to our order. This surprised me because I think that using chemical symbols casually would only come naturally to people have studied/used such chemical symbols extensively. And someone who is as well versed with chemistry should be doing something more academic than waitering. Imagine a bartender writing down my order of Cosmopolitan as lime + CH2OH.

2. A bum reading in bookstore - One day during my lunch break I went to Stacey's near work to pick up some books as a friend's birthday gift. There I saw a homeless person sitting and reading. It just seemed odd to me. I guess to me anyone who is educated should be able to earn a job and a home.

3. A child beggar refusing food in CP - I acquired an excellent habit from a friend. He always offers to buy food to any homeless person who asks for money. I decided to implement the same on a recent trip to India. I thought it would take care of the debate about whether giving money to beggars is encouring begging or helping the poor. So in Connaught Place in Delhi, when a child asked me for money for food, I offered him food that I had just bought at Wengers. To my surprise, he refused saying that he actually wasn't that hungry. I told him that it was vegetarian, thinking maybe he wasn't sure what it was made of, and even offered to buy him something new from anywhere he liked; but he just refused. The only way I was able to reconcile his behavior in mind was by thinking that someone forced him to beg and was monitoring him somehow.

4. A graduate auto rickshaw driver in Bombay - One day in Bombay I took a rickshaw for a fairly long ride and ended up talking to the driver about his life. He told me about that he led a crappy life in the city. He remarked with a hint of jealousy that I must be leading a great life abroad with no dearth of material wealth or love of family/friends. I retorted that I studied/worked hard to be where I am. He agreed that he had played most of his life and never studied seriously, but also said that studying wouldn't have helped since he had a lot of friends who were graduates and led the same life as him. I couldn't justify this in my head. Again, according to my distored view, every one who has studied and has a degree should be able to live a decent life.

5. A young girl not giving up her seat for an older person on the bus - I took the bus to go to work today and it got crowded after a few stops. There weren't any seats left with mostly elders sitting and younger people standing. At one stop an elderly woman boarded the bus but there weren't any seats left. One young woman who was sitting looked at her, but did not give her the seat. I couldn't understand how she could just sit there while this elderly lady was forced to stand during the bumpy ride.

These are some examples of the every day encounters that go opposite to the view I have formed in my mind about people and society. These constantly force me to reevaluate how I think. They also remind how little I know about the world around me.

Comments:
Nice thinking.
CH2OH doesn't mean anything. I guess u need a CH3 in the front to make it ethanol :)
 
check out chicago...
as per one of the cabbies there, atleast 75% of the crowd are software engineers, many from india....with all of them waiting for a green card.

the cabbie i talked to, was a C programmer, out of job presently because his H1 had expired. he also happened to tell me that he was actually earning more as a cabbie than many software pros do
 
Sudhakar, thanks for correcting me. I was too lazy to really think about or find out ethyl alchohol's chemical formula. Yes, it is C2H5OH.

Simran & Raj, actually I wouldn't mind bartending or working at a coffee shop or a bookstore in between jobs, but I won't even make a fraction of what I do as a software developer. It is strange to me that they make more as cab drivers.
 
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