Ground-Zero

Cultural Intelligence and Innovation Trend in Indo-Pacific

In the shelves of a big mall or a mid-sized supermarket in Malaysia, an Indian product assumes a premium place (of course, along with other credible competitors) with its quality and robustness standing next to Japan and German made goods. From my hands-on experience, this difference was glaring, especially in the case of average electronics and electrical (EEE) products. However, Indian products fail on two fronts i.e aesthetics (finished look) and pricing. So, to displace a competitor you need both. On the other hand, China made EEE products are less expensive, feature rich and compromise heavily on quality. Cultural intelligence, that shapes our choices and way of thinking to play a decisive role in this entire scheme of things. In India, people may have been forced to buy cheap Chinese goods, but the understanding of “quality trumps quantity” seen from the perspective of long-term use is inherent to Indian culture. Indians believe in repair, reuse and recycle. For e.g in any average locality whether in Varanasi or Puri, one can find electrical and electronics repair shops and an entire ecosystem spun around supportive of that culture. However, this to a large extent stands contrary in South East Asia and China where cheap products have sucked in the appetite of the consumers to attempt any reuse or recycle. During my visit to an apartment in the middle of the Kuala Lumpur, I noticed that a Chinese family who had recently vacated their rented flat had left behind numerous electrical and electronics goods including furniture. On further observation I found it to be a phenomenon of a sort, quite prevalent in the rest of the city.

#Malaysia #SouthEastAsia #Indo-Pacific

Digitalization of Racism in East Asia

I entered into an apparel showroom and went to the Men’s section where i was politely greeted by a Chinese saleswoman, who was patiently waiting for the customers to arrive while managing both the job of billing and showcasing the products. After listening to my requirements, she gave me two shirts to try and decide. Having done with my trials, I went to her and gave her the shirt I wanted to buy.  As she was filling up the e-forms to process my bill, I saw that there are options made within the system to profile the customer based on race i.e Indian, Chinese, European and Others. I was shocked and asked her about it. With both innocence and ignorance, she replied: “You told you are from India, so I chose Indian”.

In a multi-cultural, globalized world where UK-US-India metrics on consumer goods are to ensure numerical consistency and inter-usability, such race-based profiling for data-mining is both regressive and pathetic.

The 21st Century East Asia with all its glitters and glory also promotes a subtle yet veiled form of racism, that is not questioned openly but celebrated with much innocence in form of rituals. The actions and behaviors are in perfect tune with each other, conditioning the overall mindset for the promotion of the very evil. All this happening in the big showrooms and the cubicles of high rise malls and offices, that build the socio-economic structure of future Asia.

#Malaysia #SouthEastAsia #Indo-Pacific

An Immigrant, His Reggae and Unforgotten Roots: 

Strolling around the streets of Melaka, I happen to chance on into a shop that had featured a silhouette of Bob Marley on a Jamaica flag as its background. The interiors of the shop had a sense of mystery and had different kinds of exotic accessories and items on display. Some of them were antique and carried the reminiscence of the recent past. While i was lost in checking the items, a deep voice from a dark corner of the shop gave me a call. His appearance looked hazy in the thin smoke of his cigar. After having a brief interaction and knowing about my country of origin, he shared his piece of history that brought Portuguese influenced Goan culture to this part of Asia. Though the presence of Dutch rulers isn’t new to Southeast Asia, the existence of people celebrating the culture maintains the memory of Dutch Malacca. The adopted language and the country haven’t influenced their nuances of living, maybe because their life in a port city has kept them away from the rigid culture of the mainland.  The Cigar, the reggae music and the aura of mystery created by the smoke still rule the immigrant’s life.

#Malacca #Immigrant #SouthEastAsia

Oman Helps

This Yemeni man was injured in the conflict in his country and is in town for medical treatment. There were quite a few of them soaking in the twilight sun in the evening outside their hotel. All of them without legs and amputated. We can sometimes see the cost of a war in the neighborhood, in person rather than on Al Jazeera. It was uncomfortable in the least.

A Good Samaritan told me ‘when countries fight, Oman helps’

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#Oman #MiddleEast #War #Refugee

 

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