Regarding the pain of others

It was a full hospital trip day yesterday, as my mother had a health scare and was admitted for the day. The day before, I received yet another rejection from a company who initially wanted to consider my remote role, but then decided they “need to move fast” and unless I reconsider to relocate, then I am accepted. My mother, I thought. Thank you, but my personal challenges, of which I have disclosed much earlier to them — I refrained from using personal ‘limitations’ these days because limits are just what they do, they limit, but challenges? We can navigate challenges — unfortunately are leaving me bounded to this place. Thank you for your time, they said. We’ll think of you when we have some other opportunities.

I laughed at my own naivety of believing every thinkpiece written during the first few months of the pandemic outbreak about the shift to WFH (work from home). How working from home, and working from anywhere you want, while at the same time exposing the disparity of gender and race gap in many industries (but then again, it doesn’t take wfh and the pandemic for anyone to see this) also now opens the opportunity for underrepresented communities — those with disabilities, those with caregiving responsibilities, those who for many other reasons could not commute or relocate, etc. — the chance to join the legion of respectful employments again. Respectful in a sense that their limitations — excuse me, no — challenges are secondary to their potentials and skills of doing amazing things that able-bodied and privileged people are not judged on when they are about to enter the workforce. Respectful in a sense that they should hear none of the comments about their bodies or their children or their ethnicities or their identities or their sexualities when they show up, filled with hope to the brim, during interviews. It was so funny to think that only during the pandemic the able-bodied and the privileged could think of working from the comfort of their homes, possibly with maids and AC, and then resumed to being non-inclusive back again three months in. Oh, we could not accommodate remote roles, they said. Being inclusive and thinking of our employees who perhaps are living with immunocompromised family members, or even with chronic illnesses themselves, lol idk what’s that? We need to move fast, they said. As someone who had remotely project managed a team for 6 years, how is moving fast and hiring remote roles mutually exclusive?

It’s also funny how a lot of things we wanted to do boils down to “If only I had more money…” That itself speaks about a lot of things. That’s the thing, the billionaires, the ones with money, are too much focused on power and doing harm. I was thinking that if only I have the funds, I would open a remote agency who would focus on hiring women — especially from underserved groups — who are unfortunately bounded to a place and wanted to do just as amazing things as people who could pack up and move across the country for the positions they are hired for. We could outsource project management to small startups, we could do design, we could do programming, we could proofread and edit works, we could talk about the intricacies of navigating work while caring for others who are fully dependent on us, we could find ways how to do better, we could amplify each other’s voices and abilities, we would uplift each other, we could become a community that we could have ever hoped for. One day, perhaps one day.

Reading in my tabs:

  • Decolonial theory as sociotechnical foresight in artificial intelligence.
  • This just in: Anyone producing films for public viewing in Malaysia — including videos shared on social media sites TikTok and Instagram — will require a state-issued license under a rarely-enforced law. Lol.
  • This is why we can never have nice shiny techy things, someone is bound to abuse them: Google’s contact tracing system collects live location data, and the UK government admits to breaking privacy law with its contract tracing app.
  • “Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on what makes a decent man.
  • “To insist that contemporary photographic practice — and I mean to include a majority of the international news coverage in newspapers like this one — is generally made (and published) for the greater good is to misconstrue history, because it leaves out the question of “Good for whom?”” Teju Cole asks us to reflect the power of photography as a weapon of colonialism. Related reading: Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others.
  • “How do we structure and govern Amazon in a way that is faithful to the principles of democracy? An answer lies in anti-monopoly policies that constrain and reduce Amazon’s dominance and reallocate power to the millions of individual workers, independent firms, and members of the general public whose labor, enterprise, consumption, and support have made Amazon a trillion-dollar corporation.” Imagining a democratic Amazon.
  • “One of the notable things that arose in our research was the local specificity of the different recipes we found, how consciously families retained the cuisine of their very particular villages several generations into exile. Those who were old enough to actually remember their pre-1948 villages spoke in incredible detail of the plants and animals they cultivated, the wild herbs, the spring water, etc. These memories are graven and unchanging, impressed upon them forever by the trauma of exile. Everything since then is the absence of those tastes and smells. Since then, their staple foods have been provided by food rations, etc., and their largely agrarian lives suddenly pressed into crowded refugee camps. They have adapted recipes to accommodate new ingredients or compensate for absent ones, but there is this sense of constant, permanent nostalgia. Because it is so specifically political a trauma and a nostalgia, it is actively held onto, not overcome or forgotten in a generation like that of so many other peasants forced into the city in so many other places. The nostalgia is handed down, like the keys to the family’s house, from one generation to the next, as a conscientious political act.” I am really loving this article on kitchen anthropology in Gaza — one day I wanted to work on projects such as this.
  • Meet the creatures of the night sea.
  • “…when the neighbours called it a nuisance, we watered it.”


  • Reading: Sasha Costanza-Chock’s Design Justice, and S.A Chakraborty’s The City of Brass.
  • Listening: Really loving this new podcast from TED called Pindrop, described as “a deep dive into the ideas that shape a particular spot on the map. Weave through the streets of Bangkok with a motorcycle midwife. Time-travel with dinosaurs behind a hardware store in New Jersey. Meet a guy who dresses up as a luchador to protect citizens from traffic in Mexico City.” It’s like travelling through a podcast.
  • Viewing: On My Block.
  • Food & Drink: Rice congee with soy sauce and anchovies, and apple juice.

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