Blue pill, red pill

So, engaging graphics and playing-to-the-crowd sentiments aside, the video above is well worth a gander.

The main thrust of its narrative is a warning to all that we risk creating an increasingly lonelier state of self through the persistent use of social media, ironically pitched as social media can be as a way of improving an individual’s ‘connectivity’ in the world.

In the olden days we used to wake up, make tea, brush our teeth and collect our frozen milk bottle off the doorstep. Today, we’re more likely to check our email, Twitter and Facebook accounts before we even dip a toe out of bed, let alone respond diligently to any line of enquiry emanating from other human beings in our house. Continue reading “Blue pill, red pill”


Photo courtesy of
The circular trajectories of consumerism – Photo courtesy of

What keeps you awake at night? Is it the Fear Of Missing Out?

I read three things recently which deftly, and each in their own way, brought the FOMO concept to life for me.

Let’s start with the amusing Guardian piece: – neatly drawing attention to a daft notion we have become subjected to, which is that there are certain things “we MUST do before we die”.

Usually these things come in the form of a handy list, often of 100 items.  There is no end to the categorization which has been used in this vein of commentary – 100 movies we MUST watch, songs we MUST listen to, places we MUST visit. Continue reading “FOMO”

Freshly pressed thoughts (on way to Bangkok)

Awakening your senses – Bangkok’s colourful street vending network

I’m a mile or so up in the air once more, the flooded dark green plains of the Mekong Delta below so very familiar now after 2.5 years of traversing over them.  Hunched and huddled in the fish-ponged cabin of a Vietnamese airlines aeroplane, I dodge the smiling offers of tepid seafood noodles and ground boot-dust tasting coffee.

This week, up until Wednesday night when I’ll be back to Saigon in time for my daughter’s 5th birthday, it’s Bangkok, for a conference and some networking.

Headphones on, I’m in auto-pilot mode. Continue reading “Freshly pressed thoughts (on way to Bangkok)”

Fair and Lovely?

A Vaseline advert for men's skin-whitening cream
A Vaseline advert for men’s skin-whitening cream

At what point in the future will branding not be such a dominating force in society, or even cease to exist all together?

I asked myself this question yesterday, following a conversation had with colleagues here in Delhi about skin-whitening, and the way this practice has swept across the country.

Millions of Indian women and (more recently) men buy brands such as Fair and Lovely each day, in an attempt to look fairer and more attractive. The same company who produce Fair and Lovely (Hindustan Lever, a Unilever subsidiary) also just launched a hand-washing initiative in India, through their Lifebuoy soap brand, aimed at helping eradicate easily preventable diseases – such as dysentery – which claim the lives of many young children in India.  The ad is pasted at the end of this post.

In my simple mind, the conflation of these two Unilever brands in what they stand for, and what they are selling, is slightly bizarre. Continue reading “Fair and Lovely?”

Time Piece

How bound are we by the constraints of time?
How bound are we by the constraints of time?

I have just started reading Tiziano Terzani’s novel “A Fortune-Teller Told Me” – an autobiography, which recounts the specific tale of how Terzani, a journalist, avoided death in 1993 by following a prophecy made by a fortune-teller he met twenty years earlier.

The fortune-teller told him not to fly for the whole of 1993 and, in following this advice, Terzani not only embarked on a twelve month adventure covering many thousands of miles, but he also inadvertedly gave up his place on a UN helicopter, carrying other journalists, which went down on 20 March 1993 in Cambodia.

This, I already know after the opening chapters, will be a book which challenges my assumptions about several things.  Including, perhaps, that of the human capacity to see into the past and the future. Continue reading “Time Piece”

Inca Magic

The view from up top of Waynapichu
The view of Machu Picchu from top of Waynapichu mountain

There’s a catchy song going round at the moment – by Asaf Avidan – containing the refrain: “one day, baby, we’ll grow old, think of all the stories that we could have told.”

Take it or leave it, I’ve always felt there to be immense appeal, and need, now and again, for a carpe diem type of call to action.  Time waits for no man.  You are only young once.  Just Do It.

We live in an era of 24/7 availability and connectivity.  Of twittersphere brevity.  Of mouse click transactions, and downloaded lifestyles.  Today’s children will know very little else, growing up as they will do surrounded by technologies whose sell-by dates will have expired halfway through the journey from their Chinese factory origins, to the shelves from which they will be sold.

Does this excite or exacerbate you?  And what does it matter anyway?

This time last week I climbed Machu Picchu, the world famous Inca heritage site in Peru, and spent a large chunk of my Tuesday soaking up dizzying views of Andean mountains, valleys and indigenous life [I left my own technologies behind for the day, although did take the photo above with a crappy old camera].

My first time to Peru, and the experience was a memorable one.  Cultural nuances, tasty foods and drink, a different pace of life, language, and a wonderful and striking mixture of old and new. Continue reading “Inca Magic”