The Tangled Web — Part 3


I live in a development called “Magarpatta City” on the southeastern edge of Pune. Like most other recent real estate developments around the country, it is a gated community. It is far from complete and but most services are available, although choices are limited. One service essential to me is internet connectivity. The only service provider within the complex is VSNL TataIndicom Broadband.

It is “broadband” only if you have a sufficiently flexible definition of broadband. (You know, like “2 + 2 = 5” for sufficiently large values of “2”.) It is actually fairly narrowband. But stuck between a rock and a hard place, you takes what you gets and you pays whatever they demands because they are a local monopoly. The choice is simple: take it or leave it. And that is precisely the attitude that TataIndicom takes around here. The system fails fairly regularly and when you call their customer service, you get no service. Your call ends up at some call center. The impression that I get is that these call centers are staffed with people with subhuman IQ. It is a frustrating experience getting them to actually understand what the problem is. But perhaps it is not their fault entirely. The systems that they rely on are pathetic.
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We, the People

One is forced to the generalization that at the level of the individual it is all exogenous, while at the level of the society, it is all endogenous. Take the market, for instance. To an individual, price is something that is a given and whether he or she participates in the market or not, cannot change the price. Price is determined externally and is indifferent to the efforts of the individual. It arises from almost magically from the collective interactions of the individuals in the market. Price arises out of, and is a reflection of, “the collective will” of the people, so to speak. Prices are democratically determined in competitive markets. Which brings me to the other example of the generalization above: governance.
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The Tangled Web — Part 2

Talk to Me

You can learn a lot from talking to people. Long train journeys were a prefect setting to have long conversations with perfect strangers, people who have a different point of view, a different set of life experiences. Now that these days there are very few train journeys, long cab rides are the substitute setting for me to conduct an impromptu interview. Books and other publications generally give you a macro-level view of the world. For a micro-level understanding, you have to talk to people who you would not come across in the pages of a newspaper or a book.
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The Tangled Web — Part 1


Someone I used to know in California died rather suddenly. It was about 20 years ago. She and her husband were casual friends of mine. The perfect yuppie couple, they had everything going for them. Then she started having back pain. They were into fitness and perhaps the back pain was due to some sprained muscle while at the gym. A few visits to the doctors, a few more to chiropractors, a bit of muscle relaxants and pain killers, a few more visits to the medical establishments—a few months went by and the symptoms kept getting worse. Finally, it was diagnosed as cancer. She died within six months of that determination. It was later said that if they had discovered what the problem was, she might have had a fighting chance against the cancer. As it happened, she had lost too much time while her misdiagnosed symptoms were being treated.
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