The Silent Musings of a Foreigner in Europe


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20 most valuable lessons I learnt in 2018

  1. Beyblade is the world’s best toy. My eight year old says this so it must be true.
  2. African Twitter-space is divided into two distinct parts. Those who fall over themselves praising the continent’s leadership  and those who stare at the first group with their mouths agape. 
  3. Exceptionalism is a lie.
  4. It’s not the gender. When it comes to gossip and pettiness, gender parity rules.
  5. Bluffing is an extremely important skill. If in doubt, watch Trump and the Brexit shenanigans in the UK.
  6. Be wary of people using big words. If they can’t simplify it, they don’t understand it well enough.
  7. Speak your truth. Don’t underestimate or give away your power.
  8. Weaponising your cause is like punching your annoying neighbour. It may feel good for a moment but you will ultimately have to move house.
  9. Don’t take people who romanticise poverty or suffering seriously. For every person who triumphs, many others never make it.
  10. Brilliance is not a prerequisite for wealth. There are many poor brilliant people and there are equally many incredibly dumb rich people.
  11. Just because something is important to you doesn’t mean that it’s also important to other people. Be your own best advocate.
  12. Read historical works. It’s the best check against despair.
  13. Airport toilets are like living rooms. They will tell you everything you need to know about a country.
  14. Sting‘s Fields of gold is gold.
  15. There are two kinds of privileged people. Those who recognize their privilege and those who hate being reminded of their privilege. The world is full of the latter.
  16. Twitter is a lot like real life. Some users are insufferable and rage inducing. Many others are brilliant and inspiring.
  17. Pay for comfort. Pay for convenience. Pay for value. Don‘t ever pay for prestige.
  18. Be wary of those who are quick to trash and ridicule vulnerable people.
  19. No matter how bad things are today, the clock doesn’t stop. This too shall pass.
  20. Nothing is impossible. The fact that my 14 year old doesn’t know Nokia or Blackberry is proof enough.

 

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Sheryl Sandberg, George Soros and right wing propaganda

Sheryl Sandberg works at Facebook as the Chief Operating Officer
Sheryl Sandberg works at Facebook as the Chief Operating Officer

The first time I saw Sheryl Sandberg was a few years ago on CNN. It was around 2 pm on a random Saturday afternoon. I remember sitting up, intrigued by her enthusiastic voice and her bubbly face.  There was something about her. Something about her vulnerable demeanor and raspy voice that made it look like she was talking to me or people like me.  

“What do you tell people who might think that you are too privileged to understand the struggles of ordinary women?” The CNN anchor asked her.

I don’t remember how Sheryl responded but I remember feeling that that was an unfair question. Why shouldn’t she be able to share the advice that has helped her earn a billion dollars with other women? I remember thinking quietly.

Lean in” became my mantra.  Whenever things weren’t working out, I would remind myself to just lean in. She made it OK to struggle with self-doubt and still raise our hands. I chuckled when I heard her talk of going for a meeting and discovering the lice on her daughter’s head.  These were ordinary struggles of many women and I was so proud of her for speaking up. For letting the world know of the challenges women go through while raising a family and trying to earn a living.  I nodded when she talked of how most of us resent and judge ambitious women while cheering men for the same.

She got it. 

And it  didn’t matter to me that she probably had hordes of servants picking up after her. It didn’t matter that she most definitely had private jets at her disposal.  She was speaking up for women, and in a world so hostile to women's causes, I could never cheer her up enough.

I felt terrible about her husband’s tragic death. I admired her even more when she bounced back. Her courage to share her experiences and her resolution to continue living her life blew my mind.

But now I don't know what to think. 

A couple of weeks ago, word got out that Facebook had hired a right wing propaganda machine to discredit and smear George Soros.

 

George Soros
George Soros
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