Hong Kong and the beginnings of my trip in Australia- Sydney

Hong Kong and the beginnings of my trip in Australia- Sydney+new blog 

 

Before I start, most aussie-related travel shenanigans will be now documented at fahimdownunder.wordpress.com. Please follow if you love me. or remotely like me and want to find out how I’m getting on.

Having bypassed the fearsome anticipation of arriving in Australia, and entered the euphoric stage of travelling abroad, Hong Kong was the first to enter my mind before the centre part of my trip. Having arrived at the appropriate time of noon, I settled in to my budget accommodation in Kowloon, a vigorously chaotic area, mainly made up of Asians and African-Caribbean people. Before my arrival, I sought out my friends and told them about the beginning leg of my journey in HK, and they dutifully cleared their schedules (not that they abide strictly by one) for my 3-day stay, as we took to see the sights.

Hong Kong is a fantastic place; a mix between a booming financial zone that has replicated (or has been replicated by) Canary Wharf or Shanghai, and the depths of China Town and its array of peculiar cuisine and consumer pandemonium; a great place to buy cheap electric goods as well as clothes (actually, almost anything within bounds). The cuisines on offer, at least around a third off the price off any UK restaurant, was welcomed and flavoursome. Dim sum at 3 a.m. had to have been one of my most fulsome but delicious meals of the trip, as was my first adventure into the depths of seafood. A fight between a fish in a tank and a fisherman was probably the most entertaining part of that island. I have a video I’ll upload soon of this so don’t worry yourselves of the details, all in good time.

Island-hopping was also something I’m not used to and highly recommended as this gives a broader outlook on a city whilst maintaining its pristine/contemporary look. Hong Kong benefits being by the sea-front also, with a highly advantageous seaport both for its economy and for the likes of myself who enjoy the spontaneous island-hop.

I left Hong Kong with a smidgen of reluctance and an over-tiresome state, as I thoroughly enjoyed my time and would’ve gladly stayed for the odd couple of days extra.

Sydney:

After an uncomfortable 9 hour flight to Sydney, I reached at the inappropriate time of 9pm, so I headed for my hostel, spoke to my temporary roommates for the night and went to bed. My usual attitude to waking up early in the morning prevailed, and I slept until noon which led me to miss my 10:30am walking tour. But hey, who needs their hands held to know how to walk to the sights of a city when you have a handheld? (I didn’t really use my handheld device, I just felt like adding this in the same sentence as “hands held”).

Sydney is a great city with lots to do and the great part (for me anyway) is the fact you can walk anywhere without having to take public transport. Although, there’s plenty of other things that will be present to knock your budget from food to the sights to paying for wi-fi- transport is actually the only thing I’ve heard that is quite cost-effective! The Harbour Bridge, The Opera House and The Rocks all entertained me on my first full day here, and I look forward to see what the rest of Sydney has to offer!

One word to describe the trip up till now: Contrast.

P.S. Currently there has been lack of animals sighted, I doubt for much longer. I’ve just seen a mouse in Hyde Park as I write this, that’s a start.

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“No” is the New “Yes”: Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life

I just had to reblog this as I- as I’m sure some of you-can relate to this more than other things which catch our eye in our chaotic lives.

 

I was sitting with the CEO and senior team of a well-respected organization. One at a time, they told me they spend their long days either in back-to-back meetings, responding to email, or putting out fires. They also readily acknowledged this way of working wasn’t serving them well — personally or professionally.

It’s a conundrum they couldn’t seem to solve. It’s also a theme on which I hear variations every day. Think of it as a madness loop — a vicious cycle. We react to what’s in front of us, whether it truly matters or not. More than ever, we’re prisoners of the urgent.

Prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives I meet are so busy racing just to keep up they don’t believe they have time to stop and think about much of anything.

Too often — and masochistically — they default to “yes.” Saying yes to requests feels safer, avoids conflict and takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important.

Truth be told, there’s also an adrenaline rush in saying yes. Many of us have become addicted, unwittingly, to the speed of our lives — the adrenalin high of constant busyness. We mistake activity for productivity, more for better, and we ask ourselves “What’s next?” far more often than we do “Why this?” But as Gandhi put it, “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”

Saying no, thoughtfully, may be the most undervalued capacity of our times. In a world of relentless demands and infinite options, it behooves us to prioritize the tasks that add the most value. That also means deciding what to do less of, or to stop doing altogether.

Making these choices requires that we regularly step back from the madding crowd. It’s only when we pause — when we say no to the next urgent demand or seductive source of instant gratification — that we give ourselves the space to reflect on, metabolize, assess, and make sense of what we’ve just experienced.

Taking time also allows us to collect ourselves, refuel and renew, and make conscious course corrections that ultimately save us time when we plunge back into the fray.

What follows are four simple practices that serve a better prioritized and more intentional life:

1. Schedule in your calendar anything that feels important but not urgent — to borrow Steven Covey’s phrase. If it feels urgent, you’re likely going to get it done. If it’s something you can put off, you likely will — especially if it’s challenging.

The key to success is building rituals — highly specific practices that you commit to doing at precise times, so that over time they become automatic, and no longer require much conscious intention or energy. One example is scheduling regular time in your calendar for brainstorming, or for more strategic and longer term thinking.

The most recent ritual I added to my life is getting entirely offline after dinner each evening, and on the weekends. I’m only two weeks into the practice, but I know it’s already created space in my mind to think and imagine.

2. As your final activity before leaving work in the evening, set aside sufficient time — at least 15 to 20 minutes — to take stock of what’s happened that day. and to decide the most important tasks you want to accomplish the next day.

Clarifying and defining your priorities — what the researcher Peter Gollwitzer calls “implementation intentions” — will help you to stay focused on your priorities in the face of all the distractions you’ll inevitably face the following day.

3. Do the most important thing on your list first when you get to work in the morning, for up to 90 minutes. If possible, keep your door closed, your email turned off and your phone on silent. The more singularly absorbed your focus, the more you’ll get accomplished, and the higher the quality of the work is likely to be. When you finish, take a break to renew and refuel.

Most of us have the highest level of energy and the fewest distractions in the morning. If you can’t begin the day that way, schedule the most important activity as early as possible. If you’re one of the rare people who feels more energy later in the day, designate that time instead to do your most important activity.

4. Take at least one scheduled break in the morning, one in the afternoon, and leave your desk for lunch. These are each important opportunities to renew yourself so that your energy doesn’t run down as the day wears on. They’re also opportunities to briefly take stock.

Here are two questions you may want to ask yourself during these breaks:

1. Did I get done what I intended to get done since my last break and if not, why not?

2. What do I want to accomplish between now and my next break, and what do I have to say “no” to, in order to make that possible?

Carpe Diem.

 

Originally Posted in the Harvard Business Review by Tony Schwartz

 

It’s very likely that you-as I probabily will too- not take this advice, and keep hammering along the daily grind. Nonetheless, some food for thought.

Who knows, maybe by reading and depositing this into your mind, it’ll come back to you one day when your looking to reprioritise your life for the better.

Where’s the spark

 

 

Have you been in that position whereby you feel you have the resources and the support around you to not only unlock potential, but change the world in the process? Resources and support I have been vying for, for a long period of time, have descended on my doorstep but yet for once, I’m drawing a blank at the wrong moment?

Now this might just be down to a certain expectation placed upon an idea, but it could also be credited to a stagnant and numb mind, brutally blemished by Rawls’ Theory of Justice (It’s a very very very long political philosophy book) I say brutally, it’s not that bad.

An alternative theory may be due to a very high workload or the need for such a phenomena. This keeps the mind constantly occupied, with no room for daydreaming involved, thus inhibiting vital creative processes. Or so they slip you into believing.

The final paragraph seems more likely at the present moment, with exams biting at the nail (or the nails are being bitten at, whichever way you want to look at it, it’s a highly stressful period for those working towards end of term exams (except those on the study abroad in Hong Kong and Singapore, you know who you are).

I’m probably over-dramatisizing my own discord, it’s probably not as bad as I’m making it sound.

P.S. I’m going to start posting articles I find generally interesting to go at the end of my blogposts, most of them will be highly irrelevant to what I write out.

The Dark side of Dubai– This is a fairly long read, but is most intriguing as it details the unpublicized side of the coin when it comes to the belligerent Arab emirate on the Penninsula. From it’s dictatorial laws to its ecological destruction, this has been something I’ve been looking for. I haven’t bought into this propaganda about the opportunities across Dubai and by the somber tone expressed, this provides further evidence to the claim.

 

Sojo Games- Play for Good – Why can’t I think of something like this?! This company created a freshingly cool game which is called “WeTopia”;  a new social game that enables players to directly fund initiatives that improve the lives of children. Within the game, players create and manage their own villages, making a real-world donation for any virtual purchase — for example, when trees or vitamins are bought in the game, a partner charity will donate the same item to a community they work with.  Atleast 20% of its revenue or 50% of its profits go to non-profits.

That’s all for now, peace!

 

P.P.S: Oh, I just created another blog which may be worth looking into in the near-future 😉

I’m probably going to miss the last bus anyway…

I’m probably going to miss the last bus anyway…

 

Obligatory Insomnia. The worst of its kind. Innumerable things to shuffle round which require attention, none of which I actually give a shit about. Apologies to those who read this that are due something from me. Ok I can think of two things which need my attention. One of them is booking train tickets. I’ll let you think the other thing is starting/completing the activity which I’ve either been assigned by you or I’ve volunteered to do it.

 

While in the Owens park Cluster (For those who don’t know, it’s a PC room for all your youtube/facebook/twitter/randomarticles/work needs, that is open 23/7), I have decided that most purported “immediate” work, is not that immediate after all. By the end of this week, the work will be done or it won’t be. I’ll have to deal with the consequences either way. We’re so wrapped up in such medial activites that we mistakenly perceive these to be the end-goals in our academic life. Yes I like reading about my subject, not obligatory, abstract reading which is to take up an ample amount of time.

On another note, since I haven’t blogged in a while, I feel I should update you on some of my recent activites. But that would be like writing a diary. Screw that.

One thing which I am looking forward to in the upcoming days is the Tata Social Enterprise Conference organised by NACUE at the weekend in London (which is what I need to book my train tickets for, I know I should never leave shit like this as late as I have, I’m a student who doesn’t want my precious dollar to be spent on absurdly high train fares). I’ll write a proper blurb about it at some point next week, so look out for that. Social Enterprise has been an ascending passion of mine, a route which I’ll look to pursue outta uni, which’ll allow me to fuse a multitude of interests into a functioning model. This also deserves a separate blogpost at some point!

Well, going back to the 2nd paragraph, an essay needs to be done and the word count is currently wordless, therefore zilch. A conference at the weekend doesn’t help the situation, maybe that’s why I’m here at this obscene time pretending to be productive, when really I’ve just been watching a lot of “Otis” Remixes, as well as engaging people’s perspectives on the “My Tram Experience” ( If you haven’t watched this, type it into youtube NOW).

Well it’s highly likely I will be received on the bus with some form of incoherent fumblings from party-goers and late-night enthusiasts. Dee-lightful.

Until next time, Peace x  

 

p.s. Follow me on twitter! @FahimSachedina 🙂

Proposed changes in the way universities compete for places. For better or for worse?

Proposed changes in the way universities compete for places. For better or for worse?

With all the doom and gloom batted about, and with the impending rise of tuition fees for the forthcoming crop of prospective university students and higher student inflation, more controversy has entered the stage.

A group of MPs from the Business, Innovation and skills department have recently come out with a report saying the Government need to delay their plan which would allow universities to compete for extra places.

What’s the Government’s plan?

For those universities not raising fees to the highest cap of £9000, they’ve proposed that those who raise tuition fees to only £7,500 or less, an extra 20,000 university places will be up for grabs for universities to compete for.

This basically means that the reform proposed would allow expansion for institutions recruiting top-achieving A-level students. With 27 universities lowering their fees from the levels they set earlier in the year, this offers candidates who have been deterred by the stark rise in tuition fees a wider choice of universities and courses, while not being subjected to the full throttle of £9000 per year fees.

The move to allow the increased competition for places as well as greater financial support for those students from poorer backgrounds seems like a good option; and while the momentum is there, it is important to offer students the financial support they adequately require. We all complain about not having enough money to go out, but spare a thought for those who are unable to meet their rent payments.

I was a bit worried at first, as the government wanted to delay this sort of proposal for 12 months until after the tuition fee rise comes into place, but it’s also equally important to have things properly set out. I wouldn’t hand in an essay four weeks before the deadline which was a rushed-attempt when I have more time to improve it would I?

With the amount of proposals being put through their paces that it’s doubtful that everyone will understand the mechanisms going on behind the tuition fees, but it is important to understand the basics (check out how the rise in Tuition fees will affect you here).

The committee also said that by allowing this extra time to implement policies, they can also put forward a system which helps financially-strapped students with extra funding for living costs (Wahey!). They’ve called for a “Pupil Premium” such as that being brought in for schools in England, where money follows poorer students. This seems like a great initiative to redistribute support back into the system where need be, and help put more money in our pockets when we most need it!

A more detailed account of the tuition fee rise and some standard Q+A can be found here.

 

#Occupy: The true motivations

#Occupy has circulated through the depths of the world from New York to Athens to Frankfurt and London. This dynamic cohort has certainly grabbed our imaginations to foment the revolutionary fervour deep within. “Death to Capitalism, Freedom to the people” are what some protesters bellow out in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, as hundreds walk the streets of their respective financial cities worldwide, including Geneva, Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Zurich and Melbourne. The motivations and intentions sweeping over #Occupy is ambiguous to say the least as you’ll commonly find veteran leftists, anarchists, student protesters and a cohort of celebrities escalating the scale and upward momentum which had initially begun just over a month ago.

The true meaning of #Occupy was a distorted message by our
ever-present mainstream media (took them a while to notice this though didn’t
it?) over a series’ of questions regarding issues not associated with the true essence;
for example, in America where various media channels typically assumed the
mantra of beefing up rhetoric in regard to Obama’s ratings approval. Presently,
these are futile and impotent questions. Politics of the executive and legal
order have disenchanted the masses from active participation and igniting a
real change in real issues such as economic inequality, social housing,
austerity cuts for much-needed public services and many more. Mainstream
politics has winded up the anchor and left the people bereft of opportunity and
hope. Which leads me onto the diversity of reasons for #Occupy; if you ask 30
people why they’re here-whether that be in Syntagma Square or Madrid- you will
get 30 different answers. It is this collision of reasons and attributes of
different social groups that make the outcome of #Occupy all the more
captivating.

The pervasion of protests throughout the international sphere and blogosphere have led to a concept of “Thinking Globally”; unlike those in 1931 when Globalisation 1.0 had collapsed and many nationalist protests arose, but only dwelled within national borders. The marginalized class of 2011 will not disappoint whatever its virtues and demands as an out-of-sorts, disjointed group have now formed cohesive strategies in order to uphold its cause for the near-future.

The determination is however more lucid to your commentator; this is much bigger than a single cause or campaign. This international movement’s primary aim is to limit the power of financial capital and corporate greed which has grown from neoliberal principles from the mid-1970s. They strive to build a more equal society, while rejecting the hierarchical methods of the parties that once claimed to do so.  The rise of welfare inequality and deregulation in financial markets since the Thatcher-Reagan regimes has played its cataclysmic role in prohibiting those masses segregated in class warfare. This movement is a replacement social democracy; run by the people, of the people, for the people.

Occupy Everywhere, then, is the kind of movement you get when people start to believe mainstream politicians have lost their principles, or are trapped by vested interest lobby groups who have seamlessly governed our state’s ideological egos for decades gone by. The elimination of middle government and its replacement with interest-group lobbying has brought chaos to health, education and planning reform. When David Cameron said that lobbyists were “the next big scandal waiting to happen,” he was right. Ironically of course, this speech was before his government came to power.

Those on the streets facilitating #Occupy have never been more disenchanted with mainstream politics and governing effective change. As the euro crisis grips the abiding nations and splurges onto neighbouring countries, the people can do more than opine their maligned state; they’ve produced platform to voice their needs and impact upon the stranglehold of government by lobby groups and maligned interests, to provoke the awakening of slumber of the marginalized communities in society. To break social norms and overcome those force at work who have restricting their freedom for far too long is an override determination which is now being converted to reality and people’s mindsets. It is only by listening to the people and watching the movement in its essence will the true motivations be comprehended.

#Occupy

p.s. If I obtain a lowly mark in my Political Philosophy essay due to lack of engagement with the reading, then this is the reason. So
when I rant about my inability to achieve a First/Second Class in my essay in a couple of weeks time, please refer me back to this article. But if I sacrificed this article for an
essay, I wouldn’t be a very good wannabe-journalist now would I?

Insominac

Sumptuous amounts of tea are in abundance, and they’ll need to be for a few more hours. A lot of work still has to be completed, and I give myself strict deadlines. Reading an utterly pointless piece of text today (Ruggie-International Economic Regimes) is not advised for any students who may think it is mandatory to do so. It’s shit.

This allows me to prolong my already insominac state of mind, as I’ve been bristling around my flat in the early hours of the morning for the past 3 nights. For some reason, I hope today is no different as I am taking an estranged liking to my lack of sleep these days.

Short post, only because, well I have more things to get on with at 1:15am. God I love reading absolute shit resulting in me not learning anything and wasting the majority of my day. Hopefully I’ll feel better in the morning. Doubt it due to the lack of sleep.

 

Also, I really want to change the format and layout of this blog. NOTE TO SELF: Do this soon.