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Love Dissolves Guilt

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

Feelings of guilt often first arise when, whether consciously or unconsciously, we believe that we have acted wrongly. Our conscience nags at us for not acting in accord with our true Self (Who We Really Are). But sometimes guilt can weigh down on us so much that we may feel as though it is inescapable. I know that I have felt this way at certain times in my life.

During these particular times, I was out of touch with Love and I was most susceptible to fear and anxiety. However, guilt can only last as long as we are mistaken about our relationship to Love. The simple presence of Love can dissolve feelings of guilt if we allow Love to reach our hearts. As the biblical passage from John says, there is no fear in love.

Love does not judge you for your past behavior. Love sees through to your spirit and understands you perfectly. Love knows why you acted the way you did. On the other hand, judgments are self-imposed and do not really exist. Our judgments about the past only exist insofar as we give them reality in the present. Although the past really happened, it is gone now. The present moment is the only moment that is ever accessible to us. What we now consider the past, we once experienced as the present, just as when the future arrives, we will experience it as the present.

Love is always available in the present because all that exists in the Now is Love. The Now is the gateway to eternity. And the Now is also where we can make choices. So make the choice to surrender to Love now. Accept Love into your heart and be healed.

No matter how badly you may think you have messed up, it is never too late to correct your mindset. Herein lies great hope. Acknowledge that you made a mistake in the past but see it for what it is — a mistake. A mistake does not mean separation from Love. You are not separate from God. You never were and you never will be. Deep down inside, you know this to be true. When you realize this, you can learn from your mistake but it will no longer have any power over you.

I see your perfection. I see your innocence. I forgive you. Love sees your perfection. Love sees your innocence. Love forgives you.

Let it go.

I wish you all the best. :)

Sean

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Feeling Great and “Living a Course in Miracles”

My mom recently handed me a copy of the book, “Living a Course In Miracles”, by Jon Mundy. Aside from being the sort of book that I would love to write some day, this book is chock-full of great quotes. One of the quotes in this book asks, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” I found this quote to be particularly enlightening. I felt the significance of letting go of trying to be right and simply realizing that being happy and feeling good are more important than being right. This quote does not mean that you necessarily ought to believe that “ignorance is bliss.” It simply means recognizing that your own personal happiness should take priority over being right. When I reflected on this quote, I started feeling really free as I let go and simply surrendered to love.

Similarly, the book talks a lot about overcoming barriers we have built against love in our lives and letting the words speak to our hearts. This reminded me of the Rumi quote, ” Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I think this quote is so true. Love is always there, we must simply open ourselves up to be able to receive it.

Another quote I enjoyed from the book was the following: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” I found this quote to be so relieving. After reading it, I did not feel like I had to protect anything or hold on to it. I could simply let go and trust in God, Love, Truth etc.

This book has helped me to remember the importance of paying closer attention to how I am feeling each day and getting in touch with my inner Self. With this in mind, I plan to write more posts on this blog about letting more love into my life and feeling great. I hope you will come along with me on my journey. As humans, we have the miraculous power to consciously change our perspective of reality. As Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”

Stay tuned, and stay light.

Best,

Sean

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Investment Idea: Mobile Payment Technology

From time to time when I’m reading the financial news, I discover an investment idea. Sometimes it is just a concept that allows me to understand how a new technology will revolutionize certain aspects of our lives in the future. Mobile Payment is one of these revolutionizing concepts.

What is Mobile Payment?

In the near future, physical credit and debit cards are likely to become obsolete as they are replaced with smartphone apps that act like wallets. There will be apps available for download so that your credit cards and debit cards will be available from your cell phone.

In fact, Google has already developed a Mobile Wallet Application. Google says that you can use the “Mobile Wallet” to pay online or in-store and offers will automatically update to your phone.

Swipe Your Phone at Checkout

Imagine this: You walk in to a convenience store, pick out some goods to buy and place them on the counter. To pay, you simply have to wave your smartphone at checkout. The technology utilized to make this possible is known as Near Field Communication or NFC.

Near Field Communication means that when two devices are close enough together they can communicate wirelessly.

Purchase Data Tracking

With Mobile Payment Technology, purchases will be tracked even more than they already are. Consumer purchase data is valuable to companies because it allows them to target consumers with relevant advertising and offers.

Competition

Recently, it was announced that over a dozen big retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and 7-Eleven are coming together to create their own mobile payment system different from that of Google’s and other competitors. Their network is still in the development stage as of today. It will be known as the Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX. (More Info: Big Retailers Join Forces to Develop Mobile Wallet ).

Smartphone Sales

More and more smartphones are sold each and every year. Over 490 million smartphones were sold globally during 2011. By the year 2016, smartphone sales are forecasted to hit 1.6 billion. That is a projected 26% compound annual growth rate over the next five years. And as smartphone sales continue to increase, we can expect more and more people to use these kinds of mobile wallet applications.

Technology is certainly becoming more and more infused in to our every day lives. A simple example is a smartphone app that I use called MapMyRun. MapMyRun allows you to track your workouts and keep a log of your progress. You can even use a GPS enabled device to track your location, time and pace.

Where is the Best Place To Invest in Mobile Payment Technology?

It remains to be seen who will develop the most widely used mobile payment system.

However, one could invest in this technology from different angles. For example, the hardware, software, or NFC terminals.

Hardware: Investing in the companies that make the phones and devices used to support the mobile payment software.

Software: Investing in the companies behind the mobile payment software.

NFC terminals: Investing in the companies that produce the terminals used for swiping your phone at checkout.

I would think that companies such as GOOG, IBM, AAPL will continue to be among the companies that try to establish themselves as mobile payment leaders in the coming era.

Disclosure: I am long IBM

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How Much Is Too Much? Will Future Technology Go Too Far?

New Technology Spurs New Ethical Questions

It is without a doubt that in the future, there will be even more technological breakthroughs in medicine, information technology, computers, and many other areas. Certainly throughout the course of history, there have been incredible technological advancements – including the most rapid breakthroughs to date of the past century. And as time passes, we will continue to see technology become more and more integrated into our daily lives. However, along with this advance come new ethical questions.

How Much Is Too Much?

For one thing, in our years ahead, technology will become more and more integrated into our lives. The question will become how much is too much? In other words, how big of a role should technology play in our lives?

Consider this: what if technology becomes so advanced that it can nearly accurately predict the day you will die (assuming you die of natural causes)? Would it be morally sound to release that information to you? Or on the other hand, withhold that information from you? Many people might not want to know the day they will die. Others might view this as valuable information so that they can work to improve their chances of living a longer life. Of course, because the human body is dynamic, anything done on a daily basis could affect a prediction like that.

In a changing world full of statistics on consumer purchases, some other questions arise. For instance, how much information about consumers should a merchant be allowed to track? And how can consumers ensure their privacy from companies who would like as much data about them as possible? The availability of consumer statistics will allow companies to know more and more about their client base – even more specific information about daily lifestyle and navigation patterns. How can consumers safeguard their freedom so that they do not become like mice on a pre-determined obstacle course willingly taking a piece of cheese as a reward for doing as expected?

More questions like these will certainly arise about the limits we should place on technology and its role in our lives. Philosophers have long considered these questions, with some leaning more towards the positive effects of technology and others viewing it more as a detriment – obviously technological advancements have many positive benefits, including increased standards of living. However, in more recent history for example, it has been argued that the use of communication technologies such as texting could lead people to become more distant from each other. Without a doubt, the question of what boundaries should be placed on technology is a valid and important question which we collectively must address today as well as tomorrow.

Economic Assurance of Advancement

Although a popular quote is that “there are no guarantees in life”, technological advance is pretty much guaranteed in the world we live in. New discoveries are often driven by economic forces i.e. competing companies searching for a way to do something cheaper and more efficiently than their rivals. Another incentive is the issuing of patents which essentially ensures monopoly on newly developed products.

Virtual Reality
More questions might also arise about the boundaries between virtual reality and reality. Virtual reality certainly has many advantages. I recently read that virtual reality can now even be used to help people imagine their future selves. But once again, with the benefits of this technology also come new questions. For instance, will the enticing power of a virtually enhanced reality distract us from more important things like actual human interaction? What are the costs of this virtually enhanced reality? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Or perhaps a cost-benefit analysis is not the best way to address the question.

Smartphones

Sometimes even apparently minute changes have the largest impact. For instance, recent changes in cellphones. Today, smartphones essentially allow us to have a computer in our pockets. Over the next five years, smartphone sales are projected to compound at an annual growth rate of nearly 30%. By the year 2016, it is predicted that there will be over 1.5 billion smartphones sold globally. New technology often changes our lives in ways we are unable to foresee. How will the proliferation of smartphones change our lifestyle?

By simply asking and discussing these types of questions we acknowledge their importance – and that’s a pretty good place to start.

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What You Can Learn From Ultramarathoner David Goggins

One of my roommates at college once told me about a man named David Goggins.

Goggins is a U.S. Navy SEAL who became a marathon runner to fundraise for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

In 2005, Goggins had never ran for more than 20 minutes, never mind a marathon. That year, upon returning from a tour in Iraq, Goggins found out about an Ultramarathon known as Badwater – one of the most difficult marathons to accomplish. Determined to complete this marathon, Goggins began training immediately. Only a few days later, he entered a 24-hour race. In case you are not familiar with a 24-hour race, it is a form of an Ultramarathon in which you run as far as you can in 24 hours. During the race, Goggins suffered from kidney failure and broken metatarsals in both of his feet but still managed to run 100 miles. Less than two weeks later, he entered another marathon and finished it in slightly over three hours. He then followed that marathon with a 100-mile endurance run. And he completed all of this over a two month period.

In 2006, Goggins did in fact finish the Badwater Marathon which he had set out to complete. That very same year, he came in second place at the Ultraman World Championships.

But Goggins did not stop there. He ran the Badwater Marathon again in 2007 and in 2008 he won the McNaughton 150-mile Ultra Trail Run.

Lessons You Can Learn From David Goggins

As you can see, David Goggins is a very inspiring person. Goggins demonstrates that the human body is capable of accomplishing amazing feats and that you can push yourself a lot farther than you think. His endurance and determination are unbelievable. I would attribute Goggins’ accomplishments to his remarkable ability to persevere.

Goggins says, “When you hit a wall, you have a decision to make..should I open it? or keep it closed? If you open that door, you made the decision to carry on and continue with your journey or mission that you’re on..I always open that door because once you open that door and go through it your mind resets and it gets you a few more miles.”

Goggins is able to see each race as part of his larger life journey. He never becomes complacent. He says, “I’m never happy and satisfied with one thing I do, it’s always a continuous journey…And all my races they never end, they just kind of fall in together..it’s like one big journey that won’t end ’til I die.”

More Facts about David Goggins

A normal adult Male’s resting heart rate is 72 BPM.
David Goggins resting heart rate is 32 BPM.

Goggins’ Daily Schedule
Wake up at 3:45 A.M – Run 15-20 miles. Bike 25 miles to work.
8 A.M. Start Work
Lunch Break – Run 4-5 miles if time permits
6 P.M. Get out of work. Bike 25 miles home from work. Weight trains with his wife.
Midnight – Bedtime.

For me, Goggins’ lifestyle is too extreme. For one thing, getting less than four hours of sleep per night just is not for me. In fact, I don’t even think that is healthy. However, Goggins’ story motivates me to push myself beyond apparent limits.

Inspirational Quotes from David Goggins

“When you think you are done, you are only 40% in to what your body is capable of doing…and that is just the limits we put on ourselves.”

“I signed up for that race to see what kind of decision I’m going to make..and that’s why I do it. That’s how I experience life.”

“I’m different than most people…When I cross the finish line of a big race, I see that people are ecstatic, but I’m thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow. It’s as if my journey is everlasting and there is no finish line.”

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Why Investing in Stocks and Bonds Won’t Make You Wealthy

The title of this post is not a mistake. Investing in stocks and bonds won’t make you wealthy. Well, at least not anytime in the near future.

Let me begin by referring you to this post written by Mark Ford, which explains why investing won’t make you wealthy. Mark built himself a personal fortune of over $50 million and he spends very little time investing in stocks and bonds. Paraphrasing from the article, Mark says that investing can be a great way to increase your savings but it is not the key to becoming wealthy. Fortunately, Mark was kind enough to provide five strategies to actually become wealthy, which I will list later on.

Although I personally invest in the stock and bond market, I agree that investing cannot make you wealthy in the short term. For this reason, I choose to invest in companies that can help me grow my savings. Such companies show consistent earnings growth and promise for the long-term. I also like stocks that align with my personal philosophy. Basically, I follow the Buffet version of value investing. Since I am only 20, I have a lot of time to benefit from compound interest working for me.

Investing Takes Time

Let’s look at an example:
Assume you have $10,000 to invest and you have ten years to let your money grow. Historically, the average rate of return of the S&P 500 has been about 9%. Even if you obliterated that rate of return, and managed to get a rate of 18%, after that 10 year period, your money would be worth $52,338.36.

But if you let your money grow for 30 years at that same 18%, it would grow to $1,433,706.38.

Isn’t that incredible?

If you are looking for a place to store away large amounts of money for a long period of time and you want to get a good return on your investment (one that goes beyond beating inflation) then investing is a smart idea. But if you are trying to make a small amount of money grow in a relatively short period of time, investing in stocks and bonds is probably not the best choice.

What Could Make You Wealthy

While investing by itself will not make you financially well-off in the short term, I believe that following these five strategies from Mark’s post would be very beneficial.

The Five Strategies
1. Managing debt
2. Increasing income
3. Limiting spending
4. Disciplined saving
5. Smart investing

Increase Your Active Income: Become an Investor

Mark’s #2 strategy is to increase your active and passive income. So if you are very interested in investing, you could become involved with money management. In fact, Warren Buffett first began as a stockbroker and then moved on to partnerships. To quote Wikipedia, “Buffett became a millionaire because of his partnerships” (Read More)

Another Reason Investing Won’t Make You Wealthy

Additionally, investing will not make you wealthy because wealth is an inner state. Nothing external to you can truly make you wealthy. Only you can do that. ;)

My next post in the series will focus on strategy #2: increasing income. I will specifically be focusing on passive income.

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Investing Like Buffett: IBM Case Study

*Post Update Aug 15th, 2012.: Buffett increases holding in IBM. Shares added by 3.49%.

Using the information provided in the book Buffettology: The Previously Unexplained Techniques That Have Made Warren Buffett The World’s Most Famous Investor
by Mary Buffett, I created a case study on IBM.

I chose to use data provided in IBM’s annual reports during the 10-year period from 2002- 2011.

Here is a brief and broad overview of my findings:

1. The company’s net income to long term debt ratio for 2011 was 1.44. (Less than 5 is good)
2. The company demonstrates very consistent growth in earnings per share, showing an upward trend.
3. The company is buying back its shares.
4. The company demonstrates consistently high returns on equity.

Next, based on per share earnings growth from the past, I projected two possible stock prices for the year 2021 based on both conservative and moderate earnings growth projections.

If you would like to know the #1 reason why I am interested in IBM as a long term investment and receive my full case study on IBM, I am selling copies for $5. Just contact me through the Vunty contact page and let me know if you are interested.

Buffett and IBM

Buffett began buying shares of IBM in March of 2011 and amassed a total of $10.7 billion worth of shares of the big blue. He now owns about 5.5% percent of the company.

From a businessweek article: “Buffett highlighted IBM’s opportunities to expand outside the U.S. and the company’s track record of executing its strategy. The $220 billion company is targeting operating earnings of at least $20 a share by 2015, from a projection of $13.35 for this year. IBM spent more than $100 billion on dividends and buybacks since 2003.” (Read Full Article)

In the next five years, IBM is set to spend $50 billion or so to repurchase shares.

And read this next part from Buffett’s 2011 letter to shareholders. It’s very important:

“Our quiz for the day: What should a long-term shareholder, such as Berkshire, cheer for during that period? I won’t keep you in suspense. We should wish for IBM’s stock price to languish throughout the five years. Let’s do the math. If IBM’s stock price averages, say, $200 during the period, the company will acquire 250 million shares for its $50 billion. There would consequently be 910 million shares outstanding, and we would own about 7% of the company. If the stock conversely sells for an average of $300 during the five-year period, IBM will acquire only 167 million shares. That would leave about 990 million shares outstanding after five years, of which we would own 6.5%.

If IBM were to earn, say, $20 billion in the fifth year, our share of those earnings would be a full $100 million greater under the “disappointing” scenario of a lower stock price than they would have been at the higher price. At some later point our shares would be worth perhaps $1.5 billion more than if the “high-price” repurchase scenario had taken place.

The logic is simple: If you are going to be a net buyer of stocks in the future, either directly with your own money or indirectly (through your ownership of a company that is repurchasing shares), you are hurt when stocks rise. You benefit when stocks swoon. Emotions, however, too often complicate the matter: Most people, including those who will be net buyers in the future, take comfort in seeing stock prices advance. These shareholders resemble a commuter who rejoices after the price of gas increases, simply because his tank contains a day’s supply.

Charlie and I don’t expect to win many of you over to our way of thinking – we’ve observed enough human behavior to know the futility of that – but we do want you to be aware of our personal calculus. And here a confession is in order: In my early days I, too, rejoiced when the market rose. Then I read Chapter Eight of Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, the chapter dealing with how investors should view fluctuations in stock prices. Immediately the scales fell from my eyes, and low prices became my friend. Picking up that book was one of the luckiest moments in my life.

In the end, the success of our IBM investment will be determined primarily by its future earnings. But an important secondary factor will be how many shares the company purchases with the substantial sums it is likely to devote to this activity. And if repurchases ever reduce the IBM shares outstanding to 63.9 million, I will abandon my famed frugality and give Berkshire employees a paid holiday.”

Full text of the 2011 letter to shareholders

In short, Buffett will benefit if the stock price lags over the next five years because he will indirectly (through IBM’s share repurchase program) be a net buyer during that time frame!

My Discovery about IBM

If you would like to know the #1 reason why I am interested in IBM as a long term investment and receive my full case study on IBM, I am selling copies for $5. Just contact me through the Vunty contact page and let me know if you are interested.

Disclosure: I am long IBM.

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Investing at Age 20 Like Warren Buffett

One of my friends recently recommended that I read the book Buffettology by Mary Buffett. The book provides a quantitative and qualitative overview of Warren Buffett’s investment strategy. Buffett thinks of himself as an owner of the companies he invests in, so he is primarily concerned with how well the company performs as a business. He seeks to own quality companies with solid business models that are able to generate consistent earnings growth.

Buffett is a follower of Benjamin Graham’s investment paradigm known as value investing. Benjamin Graham and David Dodd began teaching it at Columbia Business school as early as 1928. Buffett follows the idea of buying a stock at a price less than its intrinsic value. However, Buffett takes the main idea of value investing to the next level; he is more interested in buying great companies at a reasonable price than buying okay companies at great prices. He will often buy stock in a solid company and hold on to it forever.

I am 20 years old so Buffett’s long-term investment strategy appeals to me. Buffett has understood the importance of the principal of compound interest since his early teens. He is now 81 years old and has amassed a fortune of over $40 billion USD. Because of his age, you can see how compound interest has quite literally, worked for him over time.

For those of you who are not very familiar with compound interest, here’s a small example. If you start with a principal investment of $10,000 and give it 50 years to grow, at an interest rate of 9%, by the end of the 50 years that $10,000 initial investment will be worth $743,575.20.

Here’s a link to a Compound Interest Calculator so you can try out some more examples.

And here’s a Return Rate Calculator which allows you to find the rate of return by doing essentially the same calculation but in reverse (starting with the final amount as opposed to the initial investment).

Quick Tips- Things to Look For In a Company’s Annual Report

1. Consistent earnings growth.

2. High returns on equity.

3. Low net income to long term debt ratio.

For a more complete view of Buffett’s investment philosophy, I strongly recommend reading the book Buffettology by Mary Buffett.

I also recommend reading some of the letters to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway written by Buffett himself. The shareholder letter archive goes all the way back to 1977!

In order to see Buffett’s investment philosophy in practice, I read through the news on Buffett’s stock portfolio and recent stock purchases. I found out that he has recently acquired a massive number of IBM shares. This piqued my curiosity because Buffett does not usually advocate buying technology companies. In fact, IBM is Buffett’s first technology investment ever. So what’s different about IBM?

Using the information provided in the book Buffettology: The Previously Unexplained Techniques That Have Made Warren Buffett The World’s Most Famous Investor
by Mary Buffett, I created a case study on IBM in order to answer this question.

Click Here to Read My IBM Case Study

More articles
Warren Buffett: How He Does It

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Exhibit X: Not Walking the Talk

I have a friend named Exhibit X. What is the reason for his name? He has been a participant in an ongoing single-subject design psychology experiment about personal transformation for the past 2.5 years, and confidentiality is major in most experiments.

This experiment is not of academic caliber. Instead, it is an experiment in folk psychology. It is an experiment that his friends took on in order to change his habits, specifically, his dating habits.

Exhibit X suffers from what we all suffer from quite often: fear of taking action in pursuit of the opposite sex. The reason he is special is because he does not repress his ever-changing feelings at all.

In fact, he feels a great need to express them repeatedly to all his closest friends, and has done so on a consistent basis for the past couple years. Consequent action on the part of Exhibit X has been rare after these moments of expression, which are better described as emotional breakdowns, despite frequent talking about taking action.

Exhibit X’s fear is a great example of the fear of taking action in order to improve at something, be it playing an instrument, computer-based coding, speed reading, dating, or anything that can be called a skill. A popular blogger on improving a skill is Cal Newport, whose blog talks extensively about a concept called deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is the act of partaking in an activity with full concentration, obtaining and analyzing feedback on performance, and enhancing performance in the activity by inputting changes that are deemed necessary after analysis. Put simply, this is how people get good at things.

Exhibit X could have used deliberate practice and obtained great benefit. He knew that he had to take action. His friends know very well how much he spoke of taking actions that should have been taken the earlier week during the last emotional breakdown.

But he still feared taking action, because it just seemed too difficult.

One reason that deliberate practice works is that it is used to break down an aggregation of skills into smaller units, making the aggregated skill seem less intimidating.

Take Exhibit X’s dating habits for example, which are underdeveloped and must be worked on from the beginning. Any work on his dating habits must involve approaching the opposite sex, being able to pique interest, finding a way to establish a meeting later on, and other related behaviors.

The aggregated skill of dating can be broken down into those 3+ skills. But these skills in turn can be broken down even further.

Approaching the opposite sex can be broken down into eye contact, a thought about attraction that is used as a trigger for a no-hesitation initiation of the approach, tone of voice when starting conversation, an opening line, etc. Working on these smaller skills seems less intimidating than trying to work on the skill of approaching without having thought about or directly practiced any of its subsidiary skills.

Deliberate practice, viewed as a breaking down of aggregated skills and practice of smaller skills, may be important in making strides in the personal transformation of Exhibit X. It has the potential to make things seem less difficult for him when it comes to dating, and to encourage him to begin taking action weekly, instead of bluffing about it. It may even open him to the strong feelings that are associated with success and failure in pursuit of the Epic Life.

For that to even be possible for anyone, action must be taken where taking action is difficult. Deliberate practice can make this a bit easier.

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Nepal: Livelihood

Let us pretend you’ve been ‘Taken’ into the middle of Kathmandu, and to survive you must pick from one of 5 occupations: Hindu priest, street beggar, mugger, shoemaker, or potential spouse.

August 21

The town of Pashupatinath contains a Hindu temple to the deity Shiva. Inside the temple grounds, a couple Hindu priests heckle me, repeatedly asking me if I want a ‘special pooja.’ Inside a shrine, a priest performs a ritual to bless my family and subsequently informs me that I must cough up a large monetary offering.

~ August 24

My friend and I are hurrying to class at the Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery and we don’t have time to eat the second large banana pancake she accidentally ordered, so I ask the waiter for a plastic bag and stuff the warm pancake inside the black bag. We know of a couple street beggars that are always begging to make eye contact with Westerners.

~ September 04

My friend Stefan explains to me how some professional muggers operate in Kathmandu. They will see me walking alone at night on a deserted, poorly lighted street. A man will show up right in front of me, and within that moment of surprise, another will come up from behind and tightly wrap something around my neck/head (with a specific technique, placement, or scent) and I will lose consciousness. When I wake up soon after, I will find that all my money has disappeared.

~ September 06

I find some shoemakers sitting on the side of a street leading to the Boudha Stupa. One of them takes my ripped shoe and tells me that I can pay him whatever I want. After the shoe is fixed, I offer money but he won’t accept it. He wants me follow him into a store a little ways away, which he has obviously pre-designated, and then buy food for his family.

~ September 06

Walking alone on Boudha Main Road, I look around through the dust and crowd for a friend. Suddenly, a Nepali man asks me if I am looking for something, in a suspicious manner. I tell him I’m fine and walk on. A nearby Nepali woman holding a baby smiles a big smile and asks me, “Where are you from?” I tell her I’m busy and I keep walking. The man from earlier tails me for a minute or two and then begins to walk beside me, at which point he informs me, “That woman is looking for a husband.” I respond with, “No, thanks.”

Choices A-Plenty

It feels as if I am the protagonist in each little story, weaving through strange forces. It is stranger still, how during the actual events, I felt that their goal was centered on me. Could it be that I have mistaken the object of their actions? If I mistook the object as myself, instead of what it actually is, maybe they committed a similar error.

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