Thursday, 27 September 2012

Don’t work. Be hated. Love someone.

This witty yet piercing commencement speech has become one of my favorite reads. It resonates deeply with me as I am studying in college and facing life as it comes trying to find my so called delusional balance. Re-blogging it since I'd like to share it with you guys as I hope that not only new grads, but everyone else can benefit from it, too.

Written by Adrian Tan, author of The Teenage Textbook (1988), was the guest-of-honour at a NTU convocation ceremony. This was his speech to the graduating class of 2008.



I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.

On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.

Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.

And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.

Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.

The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.

You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process” and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.

The good news is that they’re wrong.

The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You’re in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.
I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.

You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There’s very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and restful nap.

Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.

So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you’ll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper.

Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they’re 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn’t meet their life expectancy.

I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.
After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.

Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.
That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.

If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.


What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.

Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.

What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.

Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.



The most important is this: do not work.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.

Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That’s the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There’s a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan “Arbeit macht frei” was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.

Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn’t do that, I would’ve been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.

Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.

Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth. I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.

In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.


I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many. That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.


The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.
I didn’t say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one’s looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.
You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart.

You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.
Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don’t, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.

Don’t work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.


Friday, 14 September 2012

Vodafone Speedfest with IndiBlogger and Lewis Hamilton


"Are you the fastest IndiBlogger?" they asked.
"Here it is" I said.

Wait, that didn't make much sense right? Well I was supposed to write a post being asked as above. I'm expected to be hilarious and at the same time the fastest too for getting a chance to not only meet Lewis Hamilton but also get a ride with him this Sunday. Since he will be the one who is driving and if I'm lucky will get to ride with him in his MP4-27 F1 "car", I wonder if I can sip a bit of vodka while at it.
If I were them I would name it "Vodka with Indiblogger and Lewis Hamilton" which is just so me because that is precisely what I would have done! Vodka Speedfest sounds so much cool right? But hey I love Vodafone, (considering that is the carrier I have used for the longest in my life) and I'm not gonna mention the other side of story just because I want to sound nice you see. (the dark side is ever tempting)

Coming back to vodka I think that should be sponsored too. Is Grey Goose still around?
 I'm in no way advocating drinking and driving with what I said, in fact this came to my head:

"Eat well if you love God (and yourself). Drink and Drive if you want to meet him"

Alright I totally made that up inspired by the Jesus memes which is a internet sensation these days among countless others. But note to self: Eating while driving doesn't seem to a constrain (as long as you have eyes on the road) though.

Coming back to answering the question- why should I be the lucky IndiBlogger to go on a lap with Lewis Hamilton? That's because I love speed and putting my head out like a dog and experiencing the sheer joy of it (and yelling some random stuff at the same time)

This reminds me of this very scene from one of my all time most favourite movies The Dark Knight:

"I'm like a dog chasing a car, I wouldn't know what to do if I catch one!"

So looking at me, that would make another epic scene right? Me instead of the joker (I have the right kind of 'rainforest' hair and look too!), and instead of a police car which one sees quiet often (more precisely jeeps here), in a cool car with the man of the would be hour Lewis Hamilton driving it!

If that is not convincing enough, at least I didn't go for the mainstream response "I'm such a huge fan I should be the chosen one!" like everybody does, so that should pave me the way shouldn't it?
Heck I was the first person (ok technically second, if you consider Vineet the organizer too) to register for the event which you can see here and the first person to submit (this) entry.
It helps since I'm a hardcore gamer so I'm pretty 'fast' too.

Disclaimer: All this was written within some minutes after I first received the email (sent to me 0 minutes ago at the time of seeing it, right when I logged in. I always had a knack for right timing you see) So this should be a small example of my instant thinking or more precisely instant writing as this is purely instinct not thoughts.

So that is why I'm your man! See you guys at the meet!


Part 1: The Day - The IndiMeet

So finally the day had come. Despite some problems, especially the rains managed to reach Hotel Grand Hyatt, in Kalina, Santacruz East, Mumbai. While going I passed by University of Mumbai which gave me a hiccup which was just some 5 min away before my destination for the first half of the day. Managed to reach first and loiter around the place, met my buddies from the IndiTeam, friends and familiar faces.

So before the meet begun, spent time catching up with fellow IndiBloggers, and meeting new people at times. Everyone were busy indulding themselves in conversations, tea and taking pics especially of this beauty outside.

There were others who were trying out the feeling of being an F1 driver in a hot seat and 3 multiscreen arcade setup by Vodafone. Before the meet and during lunch for the less appetites I should say.

 When not clicking, he drives- The Magic Eye Deepak being a virtual F1 driver for a moment

crowd slowly settling in

Finally after the wait, the meet began with Karthik welcoming the crowd who was the host for the day. I was privileged to sit (in front, I'm an early bird remember? haha!) with the one and only the beggar poet of Mumbai, Firoze Shakir and the amazing Deepak with the magic eye. (Majority of the pics of me and overall are taken by these two and they are dam awesome! Real pros here no messing around)
Thus came what I was (actually) looking forward to the most - the IndiWelcome!

Hell yeah!

IndiBlogger meets cannot be without such a awesome meeting of amazing folks

So with the signature power pack start and  after everyone got seated, announcements were made about the day's dynamic agenda and regarding the giveaway and of Lewis Hamilton of course who was the to be star of the show. There were people of whom were new faces, many who were F1/Hamilton fans who couldn't miss this opportunity so joined the club (and I hope they stick around! welcome to the wonderful blogsphere!) and relatively old timers of course. It began with goodies for different people of various criteria. Vodafone keychain/USBs were for grabs. There were people from Pune, Ahemdabad, Bangalore and from as far as Nainital and Kerala. WOW! All these fellas got the USBs while the folks who came from Navi Mumbai asking whether they can nab them too haha. With it came my 5 seconds of glory (something is good right?) I got honored with one for being the first one to register for the meet. :D

All the folks who wrote a post for the contest (see above) got one too (making my count to 2, and total nabbed 3 by the end of the day!)

For the first time there were 2 IndiBlogger meets happening on both the sides of the planet, one which we were a part of in Mumbai and the other in New York, hosted by Vikas Khanna who hosted the previous meet with one of the IndiHeads Anoop Johnson. I (and Firoze too) missed him, we became fast good friends and he was my alien-brother (remember?) But dam I did tell him to next time sponsor my flight ticket too when I spoke to him some days before the meet(s).
We guys made a small video for the Indifolks there, greetings to NY from Mumbai which you can watch on facebook here.

The online marketing manger Mr. Shasi came in to greet all of us and said how Vodafone was trying to make this event work out since the past 4 months and finally it is happening. Told us to enjoy ourselves and have a great time and entertained questions, "constructive criticism" and feedbacl (we kinda figured how it would go) But it was cool and nice of him to join in. Afterall this would have not been possible without Vodafone India. Thank you to them.

It was time for bloggers' 30 seconds of fame. Randomly selected participants name pops up on screen are given 30 seconds (well give or take, latter in which one can "go to jail") with the most interesting and funny ones get the same goodies. It lasted for quiet while, was interesting to hear from different people, what they do and blog about. I must say we had many fashion bloggers in the house. Also amazed by the fact there were many of my engineer/engineering brethren too. One even scored because he was one in the first place, well all the rest jumped up too after him but with no luck unfortunately :P (in case you are wondering, no my name didn't pop up, how sad right? no love for me)

After a good time hearing from many people, and some scoring stuff for their innovative/hilarious introductions, and secretly stomach craving for food, it was time for lunch. Hooray! :D
Well the secret didn't last long with many (including me, sort of) were looking forward to the food :D
Awesome food, dug in the chicken and paneer. Yum. Not to mention the huge assortment of dessert. I'm hungry again just thinking about it. Just had one thing which bothered me and quiet many- the dam plates were dam heavy, not to mention already being heavy with the food on it. I had to switch my hands thrice while eating, this was the first time I did something like that, and both my arms were aching just because of holding the "heavy" plate. I mean seriously that was ridiculous.

Great food friend of all

After filling up my tummy with the splendid food and desert, it was time for some more interaction and a contest. Everyone were given sketch pens and a banner, and the task was to meet fellow bloggers and get your banner signed. Initially the goal was to get 20+ comments/signs and guess who did it first? Yours truly :D
After getting my 3rd, I was debarred from future contests (for winning too much?) :P
The bar was raised higher to 30+ and eventually to 50+
The hall was filled with people going/running around talking, writing, signing, meeting each other. That was the whole point of the exercise, to meet, befriend and interact with more fellow bloggers.

The poet at his work

Thats me with 50+ both sides filled. (Thanks a lot for your comment Addy) But hey where are all of you folks now? forgot me already?

After a exciting and tiring time of soul searching, the time had come for the most awaited moment of the day - Lewis Hamilton who had entered with his crew of bodyguards, media and others. He got the IndiWelcome "HO HO!" and was very happy with it and us. It was funny to see how such a 'civilized sophisticated' crowd (check - bloggers) turned into a hoard of a hungry mob for a moment :P

He entertained questions from the fans and some which were tweeted earlier. It was a short meeting (dam flight delays and other bull crap!) but the time spend was awesome. He was cool, and spoke casually to all of us. Still wish we got more time though but worth it!

If you remember by now there was a contest where one lucky blogger would be dam lucky to sit with Lewis for a hot lap during the Vodafone SpeedFest, and it was.. not me unfortunately. :P
The winner was Wafa who came from Pune, a F1 fanatic who well deserved it for a dedication. (well otherwise seeing all other factors I could have but yeah I wasn't a big fan anyways so as I always tell myself next time.)

The lucky new IndiBlogger winner with Lewis Hamilton (gosh she almost started crying when I congratulated her. Was it my hair? Nah)

So with that Part 1 of the day ended with them leaving. All of us got our tees and VIP Passes for the SpeedFest scheduled later in the evening at Bandra-Kurla Complex.
So for many of us who came didn't have our own means of transport, 2 buses were arranged for us through which we headed for the venue. After a bus ride, walking, searching and more walking (with a bit of fear as soon entire crowd following us and didn't want to get kicked if headed towards any wrong way) luckily we reached our designated place which was near the starting position.

Part 2: The Road of Mumbai on Fire

After we reached the stands, receiving some stuff viz pamphlets, earbuds (that so came in handy) and plastic "raincoats" just in case if it rains. Mumbai after all. We were among the early ones to arrive, and were settling in. I set out to have a view of the place and enquire for stuff like water, after a 10 minutes of loitering around or so, my mobile fell down breaking into 3 pieces (don't worry its not a 'smartphone' an old faithful nokia 'dabba' you might call it) As I picked it up, I got a mini heart attack when I realized my already hopeless camera fell out of my pocket somewhere on the way. But thankfully that lasted only for about 5 minutes as 2 girls saw me searching and called me out with one of them showing it. I was relived seriously (despite also being a 'dabba') they apologized for turning it on and looking it into some of the pictures to verify whose was it, thats how they recognized me from far. (yeah say what you will I'm not gonna shave/cut my hair ever, another instance of why it helps me more than people's advice) Though this was not worth mentioning, I did felt morally obliged to do so, so whoever you were random citizens/Mumbaikars I love you.

So after a very dam long wait, slowly as day turned to dusk, after the crowd was too much to bear from hardly anyone, began 'something' finally. The show began with a mini-parade which was fun.

After which that happened which didn't happened since morning when I left. Yes, welcome back Mumbai Rains. Those cheap plastic bags in the name of rain coats given did prove useful. Thankfully the small shower ending soon, which pretty much made the roads (and people possibly) wet, with some (horrific) jokes being cracked on like "Ye lo barish ayi, vo kahenge saale lap cancel" (thanks to the rains now those buggers will say the event is canclled) But truly it was sort of perfect, as if the Mumbai Gods themselves gave a welcome to Lewis Hamilton and all of us gathered!
What was the most anticipated event of the day was mere moments away with the countdown (and ongoing annoyance by those 2 radio jockeys) and the sound of the engine (those earbuds did come in handy oh boy) which was perhaps music to F1 fanatics and car lovers, witnessed something which never before ups so close...

Yes he drove by this close! Amazing

It was phenomenal. He did 4 laps with donuts by fan demand and burnouts, set the road on fire (yes we could smell the burning rubber) After an incredible 10 minutes or so (alas so short) he took the lucky winners (including IndiBlogger Wafa who got to ride shotgun for being the lady, not only to the envy of her entrie social circle but I guess to the other "lucky" winners as well) and then went on for another spin for us on the road on his McLaren F1 car. It was seriously awesome!

Instead of a thousand more pics of him riding and burning the road, here is a neat edited video by Mahafreed of the laps + a funny moment with Lewis at the hotel during the meet.

So in all another very successful meet thanks to IndiBlogger, Vodafone for the opportunity and all fellow bloggers for making it another memorable day.
All amazing pics by Firoze Shakir, Deepak's Magic Eye, BlogwatiG, and IndiBloggers. And Myself.

Looking forward to next time!