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When Guns Are In Law, Gun Are The Law


There is one famous phrase in America, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns”.

Churchill once said that “Lie gets halfway around the world before truth manages to put its pants on.” He was absolutely right. Lie can indeed get around the world if it can ride a catchy phrase, like “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns”. I have seen too many arguments hijacked by this catchy phrase and turned a very important subject, which makes life and death difference to some, into a reality show. Just to bring back the rationality of the argument in such cases, I am going to throw a new one in here.

When guns are in law, guns are the law.

Let me be clear at the beginning. I am not against guns. I do think guns have a place in society. In fact I think my home country, India has too tight laws that need to be relaxed and make guns access more easy. However, like all other things, guns are best used in moderation and it makes sense to have some common sense gun control laws. Importantly,we need to be able to carry on a rational debate about it using statistics and critical thinking and not just resort to catchy phrases.

About the phrase “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.” What you call guns is a wide range, from small hand guns and itty bitty pistols to fully automatic guns, armor piercing guns and anti aircraft guns. What you call the action of outlawing is a wide range again, from regulations and restricted access to complete ban. And what you call outlaw – the people – is wide range again. From small pickpockets or shop lifters to major drug cartels.

While the statement is true for a small range of guns, small range of actions of outlawing and small range of types of outlaws, the statement is false for majority of the range of guns and majority of the ways of outlawing them and majority of types of outlaws. And even when it’s true, (case in point – fully automatic weapons are banned but you can sure find drug cartels toting them), it’s rarely used for the purpose we are all afraid of – a random person committing mass shooting in a public place. For the most part, the drug cartels use those weapons to fight among themselves or to take on major law enforcement agencies, which are equally or better equipped than the cartels.

In colclusion, when-guns-are-outlawed phrase is wrong more times than right and even when it’s right, it’s irrelevant to the main argument. There is a legitimate argument on both sides of gun control. But it’s not the when-guns-are-outlawed… phrase.

It’s truly fascinating to watch an argument on gun control or any other hot political topic. There are rarely “independents” here. The people have already formed their stance. The debate revolves around very familiar points. Constitution, gun accidents, mass murders, mental illness, self-defense.

However when it gets into catchy phrases, the debate degenerates from thereon.

So if someone says to you “When guns are outlawed, only when outlaws have guns”, feel free to say “When guns are in law, guns are the law.”

Mindfulness – 30 Seconds of Burning


I was istening to Gangaji’s podcast. She is a new age guru whose message strogly resembles that of mindfulness. Her voice is pretty soothing. Her words are down to earth and insightful.

She says something that catches my ear. “If you practice desire, you suffer.” That message bears remarkable resemblence to Buddha’s preaching that “Trishna, or desire, is the root cause of all suffering.” Buddhist school of thoughts defines suffering as anything when your feelings take a course other than the natural course. Extreme joy or extreme pain is both consiered suffering. We may be surprised to find extreme joy put in the same basket of extreme pain, but the sensation of extreme joy will eventually run out and to the human mind conditioned to repeat the pleasurable sensation, lack of repetition of that sensation will feel like pain. That’s how I understand it.

Many a Zen Masters between Gangaji and Buddha have uttered similar words. “Feel desire passing through your mind, like wind passes through the tree leaves.” Another master declares. “Feel your body shaking like the tree does. And after the desire has passed, feel the stillness that follows.”

I decided to launch an experiment to understand the anotomy of desire. I decided that when an impulse occurs, I will let myself burn in that impulse for 30 seconds. For 30 seconds, I will not act on impulse, but will try to “feel the desire” fully as it passes through my body, like the wind passes through the tree. This thirty seconds was measured on watch at first. But pretty soon I got a god idea of how long is 30 seconds a I started going by the gut feeling. That way I wasn’t busy looking at the watch and I was free to focus on the impulse/desire.

First opportunity appeared when the desire to eat came knocking. I sat still for 30 seconds. Trying to focus on my body and mind. I found my mind racing through the possible food choices. There was increased salivation. There was a sensation of hunger in stomach. There was a slight feeling of tiredness. The thirty seconds passed and I went to eat.

Then I remembered my 30 seconds resolution when an impulse to play video game showed up. There was tightening of hand muscles as if I was preparing for a battle, there was slight increase in heart beat. My mind revisited the lessons I learned while playing the same game last time, just so that I will score higher.

With each impulse, there were some physiological changes, some psychological changes. Some impulses had triggers, like when I wanted to avoid thinking about unwanted or stressful subjects, I went and searched Internet for positive news or funny videos.

After witnessing several impulses, and allowing myself to burn in the impulse for 30 seconds, I am understanding that there is a pattern. In case of impulses, there is a sudden build up where there is a strong urge to crave to the impulse. Then there is a platau, less intense than the peak of impulse, where I still desire, but I can be ok doing letting go. Then sometimes there is a moment when the impulse starts receding. Or I go and seek the object of craving.

I realize that I am not so much interested in the object of the desire. All I want is to go from the point of wanting something to the point of not wanting it. The foregone conclusion is that only way to make that transition happen is to have that thing. The 30 second burning allowed me to question that assumption. I realized that about 20% of my impulses run out of steam if I stay with them for full 30 seconds. I get to the point of not wanting things without having them.

And there is stillness that follows 30 seconds of burning. A stillness more still than the stillness after fulfillment. A stillness that does not carry the seeds of turbulence within itself.

Representation Without Taxation?


I am watching an interview. Some leader insists that the huge financial debt is a problem. That picks up my interest. Because I indeed think it is. I think there is a dose of conservatism needed in financial policies.

But then the leader turns around and argues for reduction of taxes.

Something about that line or argument always makes me uncomfortable. Let me see if I can put it into words.

You can’t always get out of the things you don’t like by doing the things you like.

It’s like telling an alcoholic that there exists a way to get out of addiction where they get to drink more, just that you have to drink at the different bar. No such bar exists. And if you want to kick addiction, it’s going to cause you some pain. It’s worth in the long run, but going to suck in short run.

I understand tax is not a simple thing. I understand there is a good argument to be made about what type of taxes to charge in order to incentivize the right behaviors and discourage the wrong ones. However at this point in time in American financial history, any argument for reduction in taxes is hard to swollow. If anyone wants to make a serious dent in ballooning national debt, the spending needs to be managed well, and the taxes must at least need to remain at current level if not increase.

To be perfectly honest, I think there is serious lack of financial education among common Americans. I don’t mean to single out Americans as financially illiterate. Common people from other countries are equally financially illiterate, but when you are not a citizen of a superpower, your country is not the most influential economy, your army not the world’s most powerful army, you maintain a healthy fear that makes you hedge your bets. That risk perception imparts certain default wisdom to you. Americans don’t have that gift of insecurity or fear. Also Americans have lot more borrowing ability than rest of the world that imparts additional dose of false all-is-well feeling.

And I understand I am grossly generalizing when I am talking about Americans. Obviously there is a large number of financially wise Americans that are exception to this. They were raised by parents who imparted good financial discipline in them. Or they have struggled, failed and developed a healthy risk perception. They save and live within their means. But the number of people who don’t have financial maturity is disturbingly large, large enough to influence the policies.

At the same time American government is one of the least corrupt government I have seen, and it employs many qualified and competent individuals. If I were to decide in whose hands tax money should be left, I would vote for government.

There is an excellent book called “Prophecy” by Robert Kiyosaki, the same author who penned “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, which raises similar concern. The financially wise person in that books made an observation in late 70s when a large switch from pension funds to 401 k plans occurred. That person warned that such a switch is going to put control of retirement savings in peoples’ hands without providing them adequate education about handling them. We will know if his prophecy about retirement funds comes true in coming decade.

I am often surprised to find this argument for tax reduction or outright elimination coming from people who make very little money and pay very little taxes in the first place. Don’t they realize how much they are getting in return? Roads, School, Police, Strong Army? They are getting the best return for their tax dollars.

For some reason unknown to me, it is this segment in society that gets seduced by the idea of less taxes. “No taxation without representation” was a rallying cry for American revolution. Running a democratic government without any taxation, or in short “representation without taxation” seems to be the idea for this new political battleground.

Don’t Think Of A Pink Elephant


I have often wondered why explicit efforts to control our mind sometimes backfire. I am not talking about monk like control of mind. Even though the same question applies there. I am just talking more about simple things, like trying not to think about pink elephant.

Try not to think about a pink elephant, sure enough within a minute, your mind will conjure up an image of pink elephant. Why does this happen? In millions of years of evolution, why did not our minds build this ability of self control? As always I think about finding an explanation from evolutionary psychology point of view. Is there any survival advantage in mind that cannot control itself? I can’t find one.

But it seems like an intriguiging question that keeps bothering me. Why does this happen at all?

On one of my walks, I stumbled across the answer. When I try to tell my mind not to think about a pink elephant, every now and then my mind has to test whethere it has successfully avoided thinking about pink elephants. The only way to confirm this is to bring in a pink elephant in the picture and make sure none of my thoughts have anything resembling that within them. And boom. Precisely that’s where it fails. When it brings in a thought of pink elephant to test and compare other thoughts to confirm there is no pink elephant, it has brought in a pink elephant.

In our mind, there is a constant dance of creative and judgmental voices. Kind of like yin and yang. It’s that dance that many times defeats the control mechanisms of the mind. If you try to suppress an impulse because you judge that it’s not good impuslse, the impulse gets repressed. Today, you as an ego based identity, are identifying with the judgmental voice within you. But tomorrow your ego will identify with the creative voice. You will want to be the bad boy (or bad girl) that you didn’t “be” yesterday. And the repressed impulse will find it’s way out through that creative voice. This switch of identification with different part of your personality trips the self control attempt.

And if your creative voice wants you to experiment with mind, such as an attempt to stop thinking about pink elephant, then your judgmental voice will being in an elephant image, just to judge whether the creative voice is being creative correctly, and that’s where it will defeat the purpose.

This is not to say mind control is never possible. I think it possible not through suppression, but through reflection. When you reflect on your thoughts, impulses and emotions, and you see their transitory nature, that’s when mind stops being pulled in the direction of the impulse. Because you stop identifying with the creative or judgmental voices, and you identify yourself with the awareness. Or as one Zen master says “You are neither happy one, nor sad one. You are the one that goes from happiness to sadness” (or vice versa)

This is How I want to be Led – Leadership From a Follower’s Perspective


Way too many articles have been written about leadership, way too many seminars have been conducted. Way too many insights thrown around, mostly leaving people clueless about how to choose a particular insight to a particular situation.

Anyway, today I wanted to write on leadership from a different perspective. From a follower’s perspective. I have played leadership roles in some areas in my life, follower roles in some other areas of my life. I have come across some great leaders in my life and some not so great leaders in my life. So here are my two cents. This is how I like my leader to be.

Understand Self Respect Parity –
When any two people interact, there exists an implicit self respect parity. No matter how different positions they have, the two are entitled to the same amount of self respect, and rightfully so. Even if a beggar is interacting with the queen, the beggar loves himself/herself the same way the queen loves herself. The same goes for a janitor and a CEO, or the president and a common man.

Even if you are my leader, I think of you of my equal in some ways in order to justify this self respect parity and in case you are more accomplished then I am, I have an explanation as to why i still have right of same self respect as you.

For the lack of better terminology, I am going to make one up here. Plausible acknowledgement- the opposite of plausible deniability. So as long as the difference of status is not highlighted, I take it as plausible acknowledgement of self respect parity and that makes it easy for me to deal with my leader. Any attempt by you to break this self respect parity is a bitter pill for me. I may take it because I am mature professional, but I don’t like it and I don’t have to like it. You get only so many chances to break this self respect parity and beyond that the communication starts breaking down because I have made up my mind about who you are and I feel an urge to rebel to reestablish the parity.

This is very important for leaders to understand because asserting authority is extremely gratifying and reassuring for human ego. And leaders are human too.

This is a delicate dance between empathy and authority. Good leaders know this dance well. They know the limits from where to back off , they know how to soften the blow, or heal the wounds. They know to utter the words like “I want this done” very carefully.

Understand That No One Follows The Leader, They Follow Their Own Internal Compass-
There is a story. One time the donkey was carrying the idol of a god on his back. Everyone in the street was bowing down in donkey’s direction. The donkey thought everyone was bowing to him and he decided to throw a tantrum. He refused to go ahead. The owner of the donkey shifted the idol to another donkey and made this one carry a load of coal. Now no one bowed to him.

Often times people are following you because their values and self interests align with the direction you want to lead them. They are not following you even though it may look that way. They are not bowing to the donkey, they are bowing to the idol.

For a leader this is a good news and bad news. This may sound deflating to ego. But then it is liberating in a sense that you are free to be yourself and work on your vision. You don’t have the burden of convincing people to follow you. Just work on your vision.

Focus on Culture, Not Employee or Events
There is a memory I have of a great leader. This person was a known genius in his field. One time he presented a solution of a problem in a meeting. Later when i was going through it again, I found a serious mistake in what he presented. I went to him. “Great work” he said. “We have another meeting tomorrow. I will continue this presentation. I would like you to point out this mistake of mine in front of everyone. I want to create a culture where it’s OK to point my mistakes. I think people respect me too much”

This leader clearly felt very secure in himself and he knew that for long term interest of the organization, it was important that mistakes be brought to light. He wanted to set a precedent.

It’s not the strategy discussed in the meeting rooms, but it’s the culture set in motion by small everyday choices that makes or breaks the companies. As a leader, the culture you create is your biggest your contribution to the organization.

Often times when people make mistakes, the enablers to the mistake lie in culture. If you fix the employee, another one can make the same mistake at some other time and place. But if you fix the culture, you prevent the mistakes from any employee now or in future.

Watch Out for Manager’s OCD-
A few years back, I was helping manage my mother’s finances. She had accounts in two banks. When I saw how the accounts and money and documents were spread, I was suddenly captivated by this idea of consolidating the accounts in one bank. My mother was not happy. She resisted. I talked to her and tried to convince her. After a while I realized that for her, banking is not just about finance. She meets her friends when she goes in the bank.

And what was consolidating going to achieve really? Saving trips to banks? She loved making trips to those banks and I could access both bank accounts online, thus not needing any trips there. The allure of “consolidating” was extremely powerful. But in reality the net holistic impact on my life or mother’s life was not positive. So why was I still doing it? I realized that I loved myself when I was consolidating. It strongly resonated with my self image. There was an extremely strong cognitive bias.

That’s the manager’s itch, or manager’s OCD. Whatever you are doing, is it indeed good for the people you are leading? Is there a strong case for all stakeholders? Have you considered the holistic impact? Or is it that you love yourself when you are consolidating, diversifying, centralizing, decentralizing, cutting cost by 15% or whatever? Are you doing it because this gives you sense of control? Is there an ego boost or self validation for you? Would you be OK doing it even if it was someone else’s idea?

I have seen far too many examples of manager’s OCD in real life. Projects getting launched because someone loved to launch projects and then getting canceled at some points because someone loved canceling them. I find it ironic when managers fret over an hour or two missed by their employees but thousands of man hours of work simply get wasted when projects get launched and canceled due to these OCD decisions.

And I understand projects failing because of some unforeseen change in circumstances, or genuine mistakes, or simply because we learned we are on wrong path. I am not talking about those project failures. I am talking about project failures when right from the get-go, everyone has a sense that something is not right. There is not strong enough business case. Like projects that start when people have a solution in mind and they go on hunt to find a problem. Or when problem definition keeps shifting but solution is same. Or when someone is trying to convince someone else that there is a problem at all. If your initiative fits any of the above descriptions, there is a good chance it’s a manager’s itch.

Nothing wrong with being human, doing things that contribute to self esteem, as long as others are not sacrificed at this altar of self worship. Nothing wrong with doing things that give you sense of control, as long as your actions don’t deny exactly the same to others. That’s the problem about manager’s OCD. More often than not, the leader escapes the accountability. The leader can hide behind the defense “The idea was right, but the execution failed.” That is extremely demoralizing.

Don’t Underestimate the Powerful Bullshit / Unfairness / Hypocrisy Radar-
I read about a scientific experiment some time back. Scientists made two monkeys do some work. One monkey was rewarded with a handful of raisins and another was rewarded with just a couple. Even though it was in the rational interest of the monkeys to take whatever was given, the scientists found that the monkey that receives less reward for the same work refused the reward in protest of the unfairness. Even primates have a sense of what is fair and what is not. So how about human beings?

What authority figures often don’t realize is that the common human mind has incredible ability to discern unfairness, hypocrisy, and speech-act mismatch. An ordinary person may not have an aptitude to discern subtleties of a business practice, but has amazing aptitude to discern subtleties of human behavior.
Take a statement such as “We value our employees’ well being”. The only reason you would explicitly make such a statement is because you are afraid your behavior implies otherwise. And thus the statement pretty much disproves itself. People see through that right away. As a leader, it’s just better for you to be yourself and rather be unpopular than be manipulative.

Practice Non Judgmental Communication
Long time back, one leader I respect told me “I am not seeing any sign of xxxx” where xxxx was an attribute of my work that was desirable. What I really appreciated was that he said “I am not seeing” instead of “you are not showing”. He made observational statement, not a judgmental one. Thus he could defend his position and still leave room for me to defend mine. If he had said “you are not showing xxx”, i would have taken that as personal attack on me.

It’s OK to bring up uncomfortable subjects, in fact it is necessary to do so. But they should be done in a non judgmental way.

Understand That You have Different Resolution, Not a Better Resolution-

I remember reading about a consultant’s article in Harvard Business Review. As a part of his process improvement work, he observed a bank cashier. She was organizing customers in three categories. People who came to bank to do their transactions wanted to get in and out quick. Then there were people who came to bank, especially older retirees, who wanted to socialize and chat. And there were some others who came to bank for banking advice. The cashier had managed to come up with a system to meet the needs of these three groups. When a similar system was incorporated in the banking software, the software was liked by the employees. But the senior managers had no idea that this was common practice within their bank.

The leader has different resolution to the situation, not necessarily a better resolution. The people who work at lower levels in the hierarchy have very high resolution to their day to day work and often are the best person to make judgments about the situation.

When it comes to system design, it helps if the leader says “Show me your process and why are you doing what, and we will come up with the best software help for you.” than saying “here is our new software. Make sure to follow what it tells you to do.”

When it comes to cost cutting, it helps a lot when leader says “Hey, we have to cut some costs. Bring me some ideas how we can do that” rather than hand down a set of directives saying “These are the things we are going to do to reduce the costs. I want you to follow these.”

Way too many times i have seen the top down change dictation approach backfired because the leaders did not fully understand the picture at lower levels. There are times when leader has to hand out a directive and ask people to follow. But the times such a force is genuinely required are indeed rare. And if you have to use this force a lot, then there is something wrong in your organization.

The Dowry and Charles Darwin


When I was growing up, we had a man work for our neighborhood to carry our trash. After some time his wife joined him for work. Sometimes two girls showed up with them. The girls were around my age. They were always very polite and seemed educated and well informed.

Fast forward a few years. My life had gotten busy and I had almost forgotten about that family. But my mom kept in touch with them. Once days I found my mom talking with the wife. She was weeping silently.

I asked my mom afterwards what happened. “Her daughter died. The typical cooking stove accident, you know. Not enough dowry.”

One of the daughter of the couple had become victim of the dowry devil. And they had decided not to pursue the charges because they had another daughter to marry. If you are not familiar with complex politics of those societies, you may ask what’s the relation? But your community has a lot of say in what you do and what you don’t and lawsuits on people within community, going outside the community for help is severely frowned upon.

Anyway. It always made me wonder. Why? Well, you can explain the dowry thing based popular inheritance explanation. The women in the past did not get their fair share of father’s estate and dowry was a way to make that transaction happen.

But that still does not explain the criminal aspect of dowry deaths. Especially the fact that most of the times the mother in law plays a big role in orchestrating the torture or death of daughter in law. How can a woman exploit vulnerabilities of another woman? Isn’t there a feeling of empathy toward fellow woman? Doesn’t the mother in law remember her days of being a new daughter in law and struggle to fit in the new world? Why would she still take part in crime so heinous?

Most people will ascribe this to antisocial tendencies. But many times serious antisocial behaviors are extreme expressions of instincts that drive perfectly acceptable social behaviors.

“Are you getting anywhere with the Darwin connection or not?”, you may protest at this point wondering what dowry custom has to do with Darwin.

Darwin laid out the foundations of theory of evolution as we all know, which was further studied from psychological point of view as well. There is a branch dedicated to this. Evolutionary psychology. It states that the primary evolution objective of males is spreading out their genes, maximizing the number of their offsprings. Primary evolutionary objective of females is “maximizing resources for their offspring”

So ladies, if your man is eyeing the hot receptionist at doctors office, it’s just the male brain wiring of millions of years. For a man, an easy way to maximize the number of offsprings is to mate with many women. But this is no justification for extramarital affairs in today’s world. We live in a civilized society and we are expected to control our instincts and impulses.

And gentlemen, if you see your wife cutting coupons for groceries, then it’s because of she is “maximizing resources for offsprings”. Her great great grandmothers figured out how to pickle food precisely driven by the same instinct.

Taking care of your kids and maximizing resources for them, saving for them, are perfectly acceptable expressions of this instinct. But what happens when this instinct goes wild? We have example from the epic Ramayana. The queen Kaikayi wanted to kick prince Rama out and crown her son Bharat as king purely because of the same instinct, even though it was not a right thing to do.

This instinct, which is part of a big cluster called the instincts of motherhood, is an extremely powerful emotional force. It’s not just true for humans. The famous hunter Jim Corbett once said when he was in the jungle, he was far more afraid of a female protecting her cubs than a male protecting his territory. Because the male would back off if the battle seemed too difficult. But the female would stop at nothing until her cubs were safe. She could engage animals much bigger than her and show far more tenacity and ruthlessness.

We all acknowledge that this instinct of mothers, to maximize resources for us and to look for our safety, have been a crucial part of keeping us alive as babies.

The dowry crimes is precisely this instinct gone wild. The mother is so in tune with her instinct of making her son rich that she sees the young daughter in law as purely an object to achieve these means. She is completely blind to hell she is unleashing on that young woman.

Combine this with the insecurity of being replaced from a loved one’s life. The sensation that things have changed and you are not needed any more, at least not as badly. The role change. The void. If all your life your family has been the only world you have known, then this can be very scary.

The fear and insecurity is still secondary. But the maternal instinct gone wrong is the primary culprit. And this is how a woman kills other woman (or anyone else), to make her baby rich. This is how, in spite of being 50% by demographics, female gender is always at disadvantage.

If you are a mother reading this, you have to reflect on your motherhood instinct. It’s easy to expect a check on the instinct when it is socially frowned upon, like philandering. But it’s much harder to reflect on and keep a check on an instinct when that instinct is revered in society, like motherhood.

If we have to stop the dowry deaths, then crusades, the witch hunts to find bad people and hang them, are not going to be the final solution. It’s the myriad mundane choices made by common people every day that must be brought under microscope. The “enablers” and the “blinders” must be examined. The culture that we are proud of must undergo scrutiny. The final solution can only come from understanding the economics and psychology of the parties involved, from dispassionate analysis and understanding why people behave the way they behave, what incentives motivate whom?

And Darwin also tells us, we have evolved. Not animals anymore. We have much bigger brain that is capable showing and feeling compassion and performing ethical thinking. So we have to be human and respect humanity of others. We owe it to those ladies who paid the ultimate price.

“Thoughts Feelings Sensations” meditation


For a last few days, I am trying something. Can’t say this is anything new. May be I reframed it in my own words and thus it appears new to me.

It’s called thoughts-feelings-sensations meditation.

Our mind is continuously busy categorizing things and putting them in buckets. A mind that is idle goes crazy. Like a bicycle has to keep moving in order to remain upright, the mind has to keep moving in order to exist. Or so it feels.

Meditation, generally the practice of quieting the mind, is difficult for me. I get distracted too much and going from all this noise to no noise seems like a big task.

Thus, I created this very simple task for my mind. Sit quietly and anything that arises, just put it in one of the three buckets. Thoughts, feelings or sensations. This simple task frees up a lot of consciousness that is taken by mind when it’s multitasking, busy remembering things, sorting things out in hundreds of buckets and going in judgmental whirlwinds.

This way seems to work for me. After a while, I begin to feel relaxed. A thought is called out as thought and the pressure to react to that thought assuming it a reality is gone. A feeling is called out as feeling and does not automatically translate into a behavior response, which may be a thought or chain of thoughts.

It’s when I realize how thoughts give rise to thoughts and things can cascade into chain of thoughts, some cascading so unconscious that the beginning and end thought seem to arise randomly. And some behavior responses that seem like autopilot response are often realized as choices that fly under the radar of attention and memory.

So, back to thoughts-feelings-sensations world. Feel of soft keys on my finger. The whirring sound of air conditioner. The wonder of who will read these words.

And that followed by silence.

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