Thursday, December 27

A Year...

The changability of life is an issue that will possibly never cease to intrigue me. Life that moves,changes,evolves somehow. As most people, I have a little "End of the Year" ritual - I assess the year that has just gone by and ponder upon valuable or less significant changes I would like to see in the coming year. In other words, I think...way too much. Nevertheless, I have always found this sort of meditation on life really handy in giving me better direction, more precise goals, aim better and, one would hope, make things better each year. Sometimes I manage,sometimes I fail, sometimes I learn from it all. This year has been incredibly difficult on so many levels, but I stand here with a smile on my face, a tranquil and serene smile, because I now know for a fact that what doesn't break us, makes us stronger indeed. A year ago I made a set of good intentions and resolutions for 2007. I randomly stumbled upon them again this morning to discover, to much of my surprise, that, with the exception of improving my French, all of them did come true!! May be not in the way I had thought those things would take place, but eventually they all happened and I am much better off as a result! But this is certainly not meant to be a paternalistic, condiscending message of victory, but an attempt to keep on trying to improve. If I could give a title to this year like one gives a title to a book, it would probably be "The Year of the Second Chances" - rarely does it happen at my young age to be given an opportunity to be transferred back to their life when they were half the age they are now and facing people and circumstances with a newly acquired sense of maturity, stability, experience and self confidence. I feel truly blessed for this. I truly do not want to mess it all up this time around. So here it is to second chances and the experiences which have made us the people we are!

Saturday, December 8

A Movable Feast

Only Hemingway, in his linguistic confidence and exquisite intentness with words, could have coined such a sublime, perfectly describing title for his book, A Movable Feast. "A Movable Feast" it's an expression which encompasses a great deal of significance; narrating the author's Parisian years through the bohemian 1920's, one is transported into life through Hemingway's eyes - the cafes, the places, the people, even the smells which intertwine, encounter, cross, enrich and mark his life. In the opening chapter, it is described the scene of a man, sitting outside a Parisian cafes on a cold autumn day... I can't remember exactly how the story goes, but I have this picture vivid in my head of a middle aged man, sat by a small wrought iron table, longish going grey haired, wearing a long beige rain-coat, a gray woollen scarf, intellectual looking tortoise-shell specs, black hat on the spare chair, writing onto his Moleskine notebook whilst smoking a cigar, his coffee cooling down on the table...As he writes, people stop by, meet up with him, are noticed or ignored, stories are being born. As I sat on the train on Wednesday, a man kindly gave up his seat for me. Instead, he had to go and sit opposite another man, pretty much his age. They started to converse under the most banal circumstances to then end up discussing roughly everything under the sun - politics, philosophy, society, economics, justice, love, stereotypes, life. A feast that can be movable. How can lives so diverse from each other, so varied, so different, be shared, reinterpreted, discussed, expanded upon, in strange contexts. All this is the alchemy of our common humaity where, on the journey of our lives takes us to all sort of places, even without ever moving.

Thursday, December 6

Captive Markets

Like hot chocolate in a small mountain cabin after a long day skiing, like a bottle of fresh water during a walk through the desert, like shops opened all day on Sundays before Christmas. We have all been in certain situations where, by choice or obligation, we have become victims of the so-called "Captive Markets". By definition, capitive markets have a much more specific meaning. A web sites offers this comprehensive definition: *A captive market is a group of consumers who have limited choice in terms of the products they can select/purchase (no choice)! This type of market was common during the production era when there was a limited supply of goods (and great demand). It occurs when the market is monopolistic, thus there is only one supplier in the marketplace. This is more likely to occur with digital products (Microsoft is a good example of this). It can occur when a marketer has achieved significant lock-in for its installed based. Thus the switching costs for the consumer to try a competing product become prohibitive.* In' my book', a captive market is when the "producers" know exactly that you will need their product, hence they will make it available to you at prohibiting conditions: if you can afford it, good for you; if you can't, on the contrary, too bad. In "developing" countries, this form of dispotism is, renownly and shamefully, common practice. Liverpool John Lennon Airport has got their own take on the matter. Given that only 'economy flights' land and take off from there, one assumes that they are saving on their travelling costs...big misunderstanding! The mere price of the shuttle from Manchester to Liverpool has gone from £5 to £10 in a mere 6 month! That's like a 100% increase, 100%!! And how do you explain that one set of scales indicates one is 2.5 kg overweight and the other check in set of scales indicates 3 kg less than the first?! (every kg overweight is charged at a price, of course!). Then there is the cue for the compulsory security check - 25 minutes long. Long enough to miss a flight. But, at the accessible price of £2 per passenger you can soar through the cue and get priority. What kind of message are we preaching? Money as a tool for priviledge even in a context, security, where everyone should be the same? It's £2, I know, but it is the principles that concerns me. And makes me cross.