These Conferences!

imageOne day, a friend called and suggested I should attend this brilliant conference, which was dealing with some very important issues.  It sounded as if it was the best thing since sliced bread and useful too.

So I enquired, “why is it useful?”
“There are so many important people attending this event.”
“I do not want to meet these important people!”
“That’s your problem. You will never get anywhere without networking. Ok, then at least have the goodness to do your duty.”
“My duty?” Astonishment in look and tone. 😮
“Yes, you have been lucky to accumulate experience. It is incumbent upon you, that it is passed on to those who are still learning and need a helping hand.”

That was it! This is the moment when suckers are born. Sigh! I ended up saying “yes”.
Next thing I know, Mr X calls. Reluctantly, I listened to a gush of enthused statements, about a topic I was not interested in. AND agreed to speak at it and made all the right noises. After all, I owed society!

Skechy details notwithstanding, I arrived at the conference. It was all suited, booted individuals, alongwith volunteers from the local universities. Some of these faces seemed familiar, or maybe faces like them. It was dejavu! I had been here before. Luckily, a few attendees were people one personally knew. Throw in a couple of old colleagues and bosses, and I did not feel totally out of place.

The conference commencement was inevitably delayed and the technology also failed at crucial moments; so it was not clear sailing. In came our competitors CEO. Now, I really could not walk away from this event. They were even one of the many sponsors of the event. I definitely felt quite a bit better, at this stage. The competitor CEO made the key note speech. All I could do was smile, as he was saying similar words to what I might have said. They had actually paid money to convey their inane message. When I looked around it felt even better. Almost everyone in the audience was already glassy eyed and the clapping was slow and low intensity. It had not gone past 10.30 and they had lost the audience. Then a grand lady took the stage and gave a  speech. Soon she was complaining that her own voice feed, via the mic,  was interfering with her delivery. The whole thing was really quite entertaining in its buffoonery and lack of quality.

Finally, I did get my hour in the sun on the stage, to add my own two bits to this cocktail. Nothing special to add. I am fascinated that for such simple words and ideas, people have paid a conference fees or companies have provided sponsorship. My part came to an end. Phew! Great relief. I slipped out quietly, but alas was accosted by the event manager. He wanted to know whether I enjoyed the day. Gosh! I glared at him and slipped out. What a wasted day.

That this has happened to me a dozen times these past few years, is the sad truth. My own weakness and fault. These conferences are frequented by people, who wish to pass on their experience, which only makes sense within the context of their circumstances. Its impossible to convey the importance of such actions in meaningful words, when there is no connect to the context of those actions. So we get an endless stream of conferences, where audiences listen to what must be French, get bored, and time is wasted.

My resolution once more. Never to waste my time at these places. Till the next time when I am unable to say no.

A pantomime

imageRight at the outset let me apologize for this rant. I do not normally criticise or write negative, but this time around it just felt like I should say something on behalf of the common, harassed and saddened citizens. This ensuing write up, is about a stage show on television, like the many one sees regularly.

So there is this lady and there is a lot of her. Most of it is showing. She is dressed in black and the smile never goes away. Around her are twenty young men and they are all gawking at her. They are all dressed in white. The lady stands out, much as she is supposed to. She epitomises Venus and suddenly she starts cavorting. The twenty flunkies around her cavort back at her. In the background, garish music plays

Suddenly, as the music changes tone, the lady becomes still, the flunkies collapse to the floor, and out bound two scrawny looking break dancers, who somersault (or whatever they call this stuff), and have their thirty seconds in the lights. They are dressed in bright green, also to differentiate them. Shortly, the music changes again, the break dancers bound off and the dead flunkies come to life. The thirty second break has done them much good. They now make a determined effort to grab the lady in black. The lady is lifted by them and she contorts in their hands and her dress comes off, to reveal a still skimpier silver coloured outfit. She smiles throughout and the music becomes a crescendo. Then it comes to a grinding halt. The lady stretches out her arms in ballerina fashion and strikes a pose to convey acclaim.

Down in the audience, the main act on the stage is not the real thing. The front row is packed with famous known faces. Most of these faces are stuck in a Botoxed smile, to be shown to the wider world. Behind the smiles they are bored stiff and thinking what the hell. Another evening uselessly spent. They have spent most of their working lives just doing this and so it comes to them naturally. They are what you may call super stars and therefore any price is worth it. One of them wears a striped pyjama type trouser and a hat (like the Great Gatsby). He has bound on to the stage a couple of times. Its his desperate move to be noticed, as his last couple of movies have bombed at the box-office. Anything to be noticed! They are apparently icons of society, but in reality they are unstable, shallow humans, who have mastered the art of creating a facade.

Why they think they are icons of society, is obvious by the reactions of the fifty odd rows behind them. These are the so called lucky commoners. By hook or by crook these people have obtained entry to this event. Some have sold their souls to get here. Others have used influence and still others have simply bought in by paying exorbitant rates. They feel they have achieved nirvana. Tomorrow they shall boast about being there. Today, they gawk at the bigwigs and try to get close and touch them. Some dance and cavort as the stage-show goes on. Others are whistling, clapping and being altogether star struck.

Its a sight to see, as the ones in the front row smile, look superior and condescending. The objective of thier narrow existence is to be admired. They do not quite realise, that their success depends on these gullible masses in the common rows. They are so used to adulation, that they are convinced they are Gods gift to mankind and will succeed regardless. Its called ego and arrogance. The whole wasteful, ridiculous, repetitive and decadent event goes on, as it has these last dozens of years. Somehow, our masses don’t tire of this idiocy and the great unwashed laps it up one more evening.

Time to shut the television and do something useful.

* picture from

My road-stops to fulfillment

imageRemember how in Star Trek, the older Mr Spock visits his younger version and advises him? That is a luxury not afforded us humans, but if it were, I would go back to myself, maybe forty years, and give a list of ideals. Maybe I might have applied them. Anyway, here they are, for the benefit of those who are curious about such a list.

1. Vision, have a personal goal

If you get in a car and drive without knowing where you are going, you will waste a lot of fuel and time. Know the lighthouse in the far distance, see it, desire it and then let Allah guide you there. Who knows, you might even get there.

2. A value system, be honest to yourself

There is no point in living your one and only life, being someone else. Why exactly are you acting your way through life? So, when you are yourself, then you must have a set of values. Apply them. They are driven by your belief, which then drives your vision. To get to that vision, you need your value system. Hopefully, you will be an optimistic person and have a great value system.

3. Stand by your principles, but it does not have to be a hydrogen bomb decision

Through life you will have to stand behind your principles, which are set by your value system. But, here is a secret. It does not mean that you are forever fighting and beating people. Use the art of persuasion, a sweet mind and tongue. A hydrogen bomb decision is very rare. It should not happen, Allah provides an honest way out, if you desire it.

4. Opportunities are few! Take risks, but don’t need to be rash

Every now and then an opportunity will come whistling by. Do not avoid them. Look them in the eye. Be calm and do not rush. If you absolutely cannot, then let them go. There will be others. But mostly, you will prevail and you should look at it as an adventure and take the risk. A hit rate of 50 per cent is a good figure for a benchmark.

image5. Have fun

This is an absolute must. Life will be very boring and serious otherwise. Even take tough assignments as an adventure and laugh your way through. You can always move on to your next opportunity and its not the end of the world.

6. Have some passions

Definitely! Otherwise one becomes a boring fuddy-duddy. Like your sports, or music or outdoors. Have something to discuss with people other than your work. Please!

7. Don’t take yourself too seriously, better still laugh at yourself

As we become senior, we begin to believe we are a gift to mankind. You are just one breath away from extinction. So chill and laugh. Be human to everyone, they will actually like you. Otherwise in their secret chamber, everytime they see you, they will see an evil looking gorilla. You are better looking than that, so just laugh.

8. Life is not about yourself, think of others

Always think of the effects of your actions. There are people connected to your decisions. They are human. So behave like a human and look after them. Do not be a machine, especially a corporate one.

9. Give time to family and friends, before its too late

My own biggest failure and not surprisingly many CEOs say the same. Travel is the biggest culprit. When your children have stepped out of the door and gone to live life, then its too late to reverse the decision. Travel less; leave work behind when you come home. You can pick it up tomorrow again.

10. Give back as much as you can, you will be happy and content

In the end this world does not belong to us. Its leant to us, to carry to the next generation. Leave much of yourself in this world. Especially in the hearts and minds of people. You will be happier and life will be better fulfilled, based on the goodwill of others.

We all experiment and make errors, but I do wish someone, somewhere had taken a younger me and told me these things. Life would have been easier. In the end we all eventually find our path and culmination, regardless.

*the pictures are from

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