Sunday, 15-Oct-06

 

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The cafe at this hotel apparently has only one CD for their background/mood music. It's a guitar-based, easy-listening one. And surprise, surprise, it's American music. So much for local culture.

I remember another time when this happened. While working for DEC in 1995, our IT Team went on a one month deployment project to Indonesia. The Melia Panorama Hotel in Batam played "At the Coba Cobana" by Barry Manilow *every* night while we ate supper. It was funny for the first few 10 days then it got under our skin. We finally got through to the waitress that we'd like to hear something different. She hurried off once she understood. We heard Barry Manilow get "hooked off the stage" so to speak... "At the Coba, Coban (Barry makes odd sound as waitress rips record off the player) ... Arggghhh!"  It was a hilarious moment.

But the replacement was even funnier: Frank Sinatra favorites - "I Did It My Way" and "New York, New York" for the next 10 days... eesh...


The music here is sickly sweet renditions by a nameless guitarist. It's okay I guess, background music is supposed to fill the gaps of conversation or give you something to listen to if you're eating alone like me. It's not music that demands attention. One of the songs is interesting though. It's a barely-recognizable version of "Hotel California". I wonder what the Eagles would think about having a song like that converted into what is essentially "elevator music"?! :-) Can you imagine what I'm imagining as I sit in an Indian hotel listening to it?

Another song gives me a little trouble but I'm dealing with it. It's a beautiful song from the movie "Don Juan de Marco" - "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?"

You see, I'm at a crossroad in my life. Everyone reaches crossroads at various times. Some are timed, some come unexpectedly. But no matter how we get there or why, a crossroad demands a choice doesn't it?

I suppose you can look at a crossroad two ways. It's where roads converge or diverge. The converging roads are the ones you've been on, the ones you know. The diverging ones are those you have no map for. The choices sometimes can be hard and you're tempted to turn back on the familiar road rather than go where you may not be able to find your way back.

I'm looking back on a life that I think has been full and well-lived. I'm looking forward to whatever's next but I don't know what's next. There's no signposts at this crossroad. I feel a bit like Tom Hanks' character must have felt at the end of the movie "Castaway". He's standing at the crossroad and the camera pans around and around... he makes his choice with a smile and rides off. I need to make a few choices soon.

A song like "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?" fills me with longing for once was. It's good to remember the good times but not healthy to dwell on losses. I'm trying very hard to sort those two things out. Keep the good memories without become bitter or depressed about loss. Maybe that a song like that helps even though it brings up both good memories and sad.


I was chatting with Manesh about music, movies and culture. He's the young Indian who is taking over the RS/1 support here. He and I laughed about the fact that guns are outlawed, India is a fairly peaceful society but half the movie advertisements show someone with a gun. It's the same in the U.S. I'd venture a guess that the media presents America as a more violent society than India but I don't know if the facts would actually back that up. Americans are good people and not prone to violence any more than any other culture despite what the politically-motivated newsies would like you to believe. It is my strongly-held belief that people are pretty much the same everywhere.

For instance, India is going through cultural changes much like America. They just passed sweeping child labor laws a few days ago that will radically affect their culture and economy if they carry through with it and enforce it. It is now illegal to employ a child under 14. And there are pressures afoot to provide free, compulsory educate to all children. Currently only boys get a free educate. A girl can get a free education if she's the only child of the family. That law was passed just last year as an incentive for the "one child per family" campaign. Unlike China the one child per family policy isn't enforced, just highly encouraged. Much better and non-oppressive. That displays the power of democracy vs. totalitarianism. It's working here without the brutal enforcement that they used in China. (Involuntary abortion, sterilization, punishing a whole village for an infraction by a couple, etc.)


The project is going slower than I'd hoped. Most archeology is like that. This is indeed archeology. We're looking at code that hasn't been touched in decades. It's an amazing testament to the original developers that it has lasted this long without needing a tweak or two. Now that it's being ported to Itanium 64-bit, it's still about 99.9% untouched.

Amazing.

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