Wrapped In My National Flag

Now and then my memory for one reason or another goes back to something that happened to me a couple of decades ago as I was spending seven months backpacking overland and water through India.

Kerala-Backwaters-on-Houseboat

The previous day I had booked myself on a slow moving four day boat trip through Kerala’s backwaters from Cochin to Quilon. and at eight AM I was picked up at my hotel by a mini van half full of European travelers. As was most always the case in my time traveling through India, the other foreigners were all very friendly, open, and welcoming to one another. We introduced ourselves as we continued onwards to pick up more travelers.

I find that the harder to travel a country is, the closer fellow adventurers seem to get with one another, maybe it is some sort of survival mechanism, and this part of India was indeed a very hard place to travel in.

As the van continued to pick people up, each new member was happily greeted. At one part during the trip as the van was getting full of people and bags, a couple of us had to move into the back area of the van, behind the last seat on the floor, and the bags were piled up in front of us. Everything was going routinely on schedule until the next pickup at another hotel.

God-Spills-Assholes

Mistakes Happen

For some reason this middle aged couple who we came to pick up, found the task of giving the bags to the driver and sitting down in their eagerly awaiting seats, too difficult for them. They were very upset about something, I am not sure if they expected a limousine, or helicopter for the price they paid, but they did not seem to be satisfied with the van. They were busy arguing about the money they paid, and that the van was late, not just with the driver but one of the hotel employees as well. I would assume they had the same ticket we all had, with the price of about forty dollars, for the entire four day trip including a place to sleep and the boat, stamped right on the ticket.

They were arguing in English in a North American accent of some sort, and as a good five minutes went by, a small group of locals started to gather around to see what all this noise was about, the couple seemed to be having some sort of meltdown, perhaps traveling in India was too much for them, it is too much for many. This rude couple was even stooping so low as to point out the flaws in the English the people who were trying to serve them were using. In this part of India, English was their third language after Karnatakan and Hindi.

I am amazed at how patient the Indians can be most of the time, in a lot of countries I visited, individuals would have gotten aggressive back at the rude, loud and aggressive foreigners after such an extended period of time, it would have even escalated to violence in most places, but here it was treated with continued patience.

After what I would assume was ten minutes a Danish girl on our bus was the first to lose patience and shouted to them, “Why don’t you just get a refund, and let the rest of us go?!”

Banksy Feed The World Shirt

Arguing About Forty Dollars For Four Days

I doubt at this point any one of us wanted to spend four days on the boat with these Idiots. The couple quieted down, gave the bags to the driver, and finally got in the van. The bags were taken by the driver to the back of the van, and placed right in front of me…I was shocked…because on these two backpacks, sewn into them, similar to the way I had done myself, were Canadian flags. What embarrassment I felt, how ashamed I was of this.

I kept in mind that they may not be Canadians at all, what I found traveling around Asia in the mid 90s was that most people that claim they are Canadian, once you get to know them are actually Americans draping themselves in our flag thinking they will be more welcomed as they travel, this was the norm at this time, and may still be. Normally this false identity did not bother me because the majority of Americans I was meeting doing this were acting politely enough at the time that I would have welcome them to use our identity.

I shouted to the front of the van “Where in Canada are you guys from?”

The man replied “Vancouver” (this just happens to be my hometown.)

“Oh yeah, where in Vancouver are you from?” I asked them.

They paused for a bit and said “The main part”. “The main part” is not an answer any true Vancouverite would give, we separate Vancouver into either North Van, East Van, The West End, Kits or many other specific parts, and of course most people that say they are from Vancouver are actually from the surrounding suburbs…none of us are from “The Main Part”, highly suspicious. Maybe they could be from Vancouver, I mean Canada is not completely devoid of assholes after all.

Stephen Harper Touched By God

I Didn’t Vote For Him

It is not  just our southern neighbors who occasionally piggyback on our “honorable” nationality, sometimes posing as us as they traveled, sometimes pushing a Canadian puppet forward into the international media as an attempt bring trust to an agenda so shady they can not simply promote it themselves, but people of other nationalities also try to benefit from our perceived honor, many internet scammers also pretend they are Canadians, for instance most “Canadian Online Pharmacies” are not actually owned by Canadians, nor are they selling Canadian made pharmaceuticals, again they just drape themselves in our flag and pretend to be Canadian. Some international criminals also tend to hire Canadian lawyers to represent them at things such as human rights tribunals hoping that it might help their case. Quite often on internet forums, some people also pretend they are Canadian for some strange reason, particularly during debates on the US medical system, telling either false horror stories of how the Canadian medical system works, or over emphasizing the rare occasions where things do go wrong. Canada’s honorability on the international stage has diminished greatly over the last couple of decades, not just because of the many false Canadians, but also sadly because some of our recent Canadian politicians have not exactly been the best people…we have some things to be ashamed of already without all the fake Canadians to bring us down further.


Robin Williams Singing Blame Canada by farzaneh182

Now back to my story:

To the shock of the German guy who was sitting beside me on the van floor in the back, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a knife, I then moved it over to the flag on the bag, and as I began to pick out the stitches he smiled and nodded at me, so for the next few minutes as we drove I picked out every last stitch that held that flags on, then took the flags and put them safely in my pocket for later disposal. I didn’t know if they were Canadians or not, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let them travel the world representing where I come from. They are nothing like the types of people I like to be associated with.

I would assume the rude couple had felt our ill feelings towards them, because after our twenty minute drive to the docks was over, there was relief in the air, as the couple decided not to take the boat trip with us after all, and instead took a taxi off to go spread their misery elsewhere.

People who travel are not only guests in a foreign country, but also representatives of where they come from. Not only were these two spreading to the people of India the idea that Canadians are assholes, but also to all the other foreigners they met. If you do not have any sort of respect for others, as these two did not, please just stay in your own damn country rather than spreading your assholery around the planet, and if they were Canadian after all, which they may have been, then on behave of Canada, I apologize for the assholes we sometimes produce. I just could not let them continue their travels wrapped in my national flag.


The Above Clip Features American Actor Matthew Segal, Wearing A Canadian Flag.

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The Matter Of It’s Value

It is amazing how something with seemingly so little value, might actually be worth so much.

I want to tell you a short story about something of value that was almost taken from my home recently, I say almost because I caught them putting in their bag as they were getting ready to leave. I am not really sure if I would have seen it again, maybe, but then again maybe not.

I first bought this item out of necessity, I needed it bad enough to get dressed, leave the comfort of my home, take an hour long journey, during which I slightly risked my life as I dodged cars down a kilometer long, busy, narrow road with no sidewalks, before jumping on and off of public transport, where I then scaled six sets of stairs, eventually found and purchased the item, and then needed to repeat the entire semi epic journey back home.

You are probably wondering what this item is, and how much it cost me, it will probably disappoint you when I say what it is somewhere during this paragraph, but what I want you to do at this point is think about all the effort, calories, time, and thankfully not life and limb spent questing for this necessary item. It’s monetary value is worth far less than those things, but then again nothing has more value than time, life and limb. Alas, it was just a lowly mouse pad…My mouse pad, my only mouse pad, it cost me about eight dollars, and has some weak sentimental value since it has been with me for about 6 years now, but most importantly, I need it.

Perspective

But you see, this is only part of the problem, because if I had not caught her folding it, and putting it in her bag, just think what the future would hold for me when I once again needed my f^@%ing mouse pad. I would of course go looking around the house for it, first in it’s regular place in my laptop bag, and then at some of the other places I may put it time to time when I am too lazy to put it away, maybe on top of a shelf or filing cabinet…then what would happen, I would probably repeat that search another time, and then start working my way through the whole room looking for it, thoroughly, maybe even in some dusty places, and then of course I would probably move onto other rooms… how fun would that be? Eventually after much searching, cursing and scratching of my head, I would likely tire of my quest, but then would probably pick up the searching again sporadically for the next couple of days, because I need the damn thing, and of course I am ABSOLUTELY SURE IT IS IN THE HOUSE SOMEWHERE !!!! ARGGGGGGHHH

After I completely and finally gave up on finding the pad , I would then need to once again repeat my epic travel of over an hour to purchase a replacement, and of course another eight dollars.

You know what she said to me when I caught her…”Oh come on, it’s just a stupid mouse pad.” then she gave me an angry look, as though this item we both needed had no value at all. She also told me she thought I gave it to her.  I try to give her the benefit of the doubt that she actually did think I gave it to her, which of course I did not, and would not. Since I need it and all, and she never asked.

I try not to get mad at her, I am pretty sure she is just a bit like the many other people on this earth who don’t take the time to thoroughly think through the consequences of their actions. When she took it out of convenience for herself, she had just never thought of my hard earned ownership, in fact, she probably just never thought of it from my side at all.

I will just let the whole thing go.

Though I feel we both have a very different perspective on the matter of it’s value.

You Say You Want A Revolution

A few years back now, out of the blue, I received a phone call from a former female workmate that I had not heard from in quite a while. It seems that this friend, Anne, had actually sought out my number from a mutual friend of ours who we both occasional went out for a few drinks with. I had been quite friendly with Anne back in the day, but after I left my job as a teacher at the school we both worked at, we did not keep in touch.

A couple of days after new years we made plans to meet up for dinner at a lakeside restaurant near both our houses, the dinner was nice, there was more food than I could eat, we laughed after dinner and downed a beer each. When the bill came Anne insisted on paying for it, and asked me back to her place.

Once arriving at her place, she brought us each a drink, and began asking about my work as a website developer and promoter, I opened up this website for her, to have a look at, she liked it. Then she mentioned that she wanted to start a website of her own, a blog, and the purpose of this blog was to start a new French revolution(she was french). She wanted me to set this up for her, and was willing to pay me for it.

“A revolution” I said, “if we started a revolution people would get hurt, normal people would face danger, buildings might burn, and there would be nothing but suffering. I used to try and change the world, but I realized the transitions were often too long and painful to benefit the people who would take part in it.”

“I don’t care” she said, “something needs to be done, these A-holes that run the country (France) need to be stopped, and only a revolution can stop them, we all need to stand up and take the country for the people, toss the crooks out of office!”

“Yes”, I said “but the people who are burned out of their houses will be more inconvenienced than the people tossed out of the offices, not to mention those injured or hospitalized during the revolution. I won’t be part of causing so much long term suffering.”

“I don’t care,”she said, “it needs to be done.”

2014 Hrushevskoho Street riotsThe conversation was laid to rest, we had another drink, she played some music for me, and I played some music for her. She did not care for my music, and let me know with quite a bit of vigor, apparently my taste in music was the same as her ex husband’s, so that flagged me as an A-Hole to her. I felt like I was overstaying my welcome, and soon made my way out. I called her in a couple of days, but she did not return my call. I am not sure exactly what the evening was about, at some parts it felt a bit like a date, and others it was a job proposition.

Although I am all for the idea of making a positive change in the world, I would not help an angry person such as her become the leader.

I’ve heard it said that hope was the cause of most pain in the world. The whole “Fight Today For A Better Tomorrow” was the main reason that some countries seemed to always be burning in some parts of the world. They say war is a result of too much national optimism, and if people could just try and make today a better today, the world would be a better place. There are a few exceptions, but mostly I agree with this point of view.

I heard this song the other day and it made me think of this story, I am sure you have heard it before, I posted the lyrics below so you can read through it.

Revolution

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait

Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright, al…

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright

Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright

The Fish In The Sea

On a mostly unremarkable morning a few years back, as I was walking from my house down my street, there was a chance meeting which would change my life for many years to come.

The sun was shining brightly that day, it’s light was painful on my halve awaken eyes, so I gazed mostly downwards to escape the glare. As I walked along, focused on the concrete just ahead of me, I almost missed her standing there on the side of the road. She was looking at me, openly staring at me with her big beautiful golden brown eyes. I looked directly back at her and she didn’t look away, in fact for a moment I though she was going to take a step towards me, but she didn’t. I smiled and passed her by without a word.

As the day went by, I wished I had said something. The cool guys in movies always had the perfect things to say, and they said them without any delay, they controlled every situation, and always got the outcomes they desired. I wished I could be cool like that, I wished I could be that guy, but I am not that guy. I am me. If I saw her again, the next time I would say Hello.

Several days passed before I would see her again. She was standing almost at the same place I had seen her before, in front of a home quite similar to my own. I wondered if she lived there, if she lived with anyone, and mostly if she already had someone to love.

“Good Morning” I said to her, and that is how it all started. It may not have been the words of a cool guy in a movie, but that is how it started, those words are what led into these last few years of companionship, daily physical contact, happiness, contentment and love.

After some time, she moved in with me, I cared for her, we sat together during the day, and slept together at night, things were very good. Until one day it was not good anymore.

One day I came home to an empty house, which happens from time to time, and I called her. Normally my calls were always answered, I would find out where she was, and she would return to me soon after, but on this day for the first time in our many years together, after my many repeated calls, there was still no response. I could imagine no positive reason for her not responding. What would keep her from me? I mean she must want to be with me just as much as I want to be with her, so what on earth could be stopping her. I was worried she might not be able to get to me for some reason, possibly she was injured and suffering, or maybe even dead. I did not hear from her for three days, I did not sleep well, and was constantly depressed. I asked around if anyone had seen her, and they had not.

On the fourth day since here disappearance,  I was walking down my same road again. Though the sun was not bright that day, depression was causing me to look down at the concrete as I walked, part way down the road, I heard a door open, I looked, and to my horror she stepped out. I knew this house, and it’s owner. This house was nicer than my own. The man who lived here owned a busy seafood restaurant in the neighborhood. She did not see me, and as my heart broke, I guess it left a lump in my throat, I was too choked up and overwhelmed to speak.

I imagined her pleasure at eating his seafood, happily gobbling down fish of various sorts with him watching her as she purred. How could I compete with him, in her materialistic eyes, what he had to offer would have been vastly superior to the simple dry cat food I fed her. I am sure after a good meal, she would lay out before him, as she did for me daily over these last few years.

The idea that my love could be taken away from me by this fish peddler, did not make me angry at the man, but disgusted at just how materialistic my cat was, in fact it seems that all this time she had been with me, pretending to love me, she was really just biding her time with me as she waited to trade up to someone that would give her more. This poor man would probably lose her in the future as someone with offered her fresher fish, or ultimately a man who possessed live fish might be hypnotized by her gaze, and then maybe she could live life like the princess she feels she is.

But to me she was no longer of any value, a cat selling her affection for fish, is really just nothing but a whore.

Cat Whore

 

After some time passed, I learned to forgive her, and we made friends again. Even though she still sleeps at his place, and eats his fish, once he is not around, she comes over to my place and lays down for me once again. I have come to the understanding, that although she wants the material things that man offers, she still can not resist my love. It is good for me this way, now I can make other cat friends, or maybe even get a new house cat of my own.

Welcome To The Machine

A few days ago I had a very strange experience, maybe not an overly unexpected one, but it was very strange just the same.

I had gone to the local shopping mall with my girlfriend to look for a new backpack and get something to eat. After a short while I found one particular bag which looked well built, and seemed to suit my needs . The bag was boasting quite an incredible guarantee, that they would fix the bag, forever, no matter what. Which I thought was fantastic because I had just worn through my second bag in the last couple of years, and having one I could really depend on, or get fixed for free would be a load off my mind.

I looked around for the sales rep and eventually found her, sitting behind the counter’s cash register, mostly out of sight, pressing virtual buttons on some sort of large tablet phone. Although this girl who was quite obviously hiding, and didn’t look like the world’s greatest employee, I thought she might have the answers I needed.

“Um, Excuse me” I said to her. “Could I ask you a few questions about this bag?”

She acknowledged me by raising her all powerful tablet tapping finger to let me know she would just be a minute, and then went back to tapping, what I assume was a message to her friend how I was rudely demanding some sort of service from her.

Tablets Everywhere

I looked to my girlfriend to give her my “WTF look” but she was also busy on her tablet phone a few steps away from me, and seemed to have no comprehension of what was going on here in the store.

The sales rep came over to me, and I walked her over to the bag I was interested in, then asked her if they would really replace the bag and repair for free. She said “Yes”, then went immediately back to the discussion on her tablet, slowly walking away from me. I wanted to ask her if I would bring it there for the repair, if it covered abuse, and whether or not I would need my receipt for the repair, with the knowledge that the thermal receipts in this store would be unreadable in a year, but she was already on her way back to sitting out of sight behind the cash register.

I decided to look around for someone else to help me, and I found much of the same nearby around the bag area, employees sitting down, hiding behind shelves, and various other things, all typing away on their tablets. Weird I thought, looking around from where I was standing I could see about twenty people or so, mostly clerks hiding, what seemed to be a manager, but also five or six other customers, and every single one of them, all of them including a couple of people walking, and my girlfriend, were pressing on the screen of their tablets. It was weird, like I was some sort of ghost or something, like we all were ghosts to one another, there was no vocal talking, eye contact or traditional socializing going on between anyone at all. Some people even had headphones on, satisfying not just their sight, and touch, but hearing as well.

I called to my girlfriend “Babe… Babe…” but she kept tapping away “Honey!” she looked up a second. “Put your phone away a minute, please.”

“Sec” she said and typed a bit more before lowering the phone a few inches. “What” she said

“Look around” I instructed her

She looked around a bit and said “What?”

“Look at everyone, every single person here is tapping away on their phone.”

She acknowledged it, then started to go back to her phone. I started to feel a bit worried about this, like it was a serious addiction for most people, including my girlfriend, I was worried about her, and humanity, and also feeling a bit alone.

I demanded she put the phone away or I would not buy her dinner, she did so, and I again pointed out the one hundred percent smart phone users around us.

We began to walk out of the store, which though filled with people, was completely silent except for the sound of our feet as they hit the ground, and the store music.

We left the store and proceeded to make our way to the restaurant for dinner, both of us were busy looking around to see if there was anyone NOT on their smartphones. There were some, but it was a small minority. Most people were sitting around pressing on their phones on the benches in the mall, but there were also many people walking down the halls, at a slow uneven pace, pressing on the phone as they went, blocking the progress of the two of us, who lacking a phone in our faces, were fully aware of our surroundings and traveling faster than the tablet users around us.

“Look at those two” I said, pointing out a couple, “walking all over the place slowly, and halve mindedly as they press on the phones, they have no more brainpower being used on their surroundings, or any more coordination than zombies.”

Mall Zombies

“Zombies” my girlfriend giggled.

There were many tablet zombie near collisions in the halls of the mall as we walked, and we even saw one couple of zombies collide head on, though at zombie speed I don’t think anyone can really get hurt.

“It’s scary” I said. “It’s a zombie apocalypse.”

As we went to the restaurant the people working at the restaurant were not on their smartphones, as well as most of the people eating, I felt like I was in a sort of reality bubble, but outside the windows more than sixty percent of all the people we saw were zombies. Scary stuff.

Have you looked up from your smartphone in public recently to see how many zombies are around you?

Although this song is not quite about becoming a smart phone zombie, it is the song I was thinking of while I looked at the zombie apocalypse around me.

Crank it up and enjoy.

Pink Floyd “Welcome To The Machine”(1975)

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

Where have you been? It’s alright we know where you’ve been.

You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time,

provided with toys and Scouting for Boys.

You bought a guitar to punish your ma,

And you didn’t like school, and you know you’re nobody’s fool,

So welcome to the machine.

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

What did you dream? It’s alright we told you what to dream.

You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar,

He always ate in the Steak Bar. He loved to drive in his Jaguar.

So welcome to the machine.

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