Turning The Ship

I went to Seoul, South Korea (ICN) a few weeks months ago. The leaves were already turning color and covering the ground in some places, ahead of Tokyo.

The highlight of this trip was catching up with my old buddy George. He is an interesting character to say the least! I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years or so, and for more than 5 years before that. For some reason I was expecting that he would have changed with something new and different over the last couple of years (like me!). He did, in a way, but it was in that he had progressed further down the paths that he had been doing before. This is something that I admire as I have tended to jump from one thing to another too rapidly.

There were a few things about him that left me gob-smacked.

He was still using his 2G phone that he had been using for 7 years. He can text, and he can call.

Sometimes, when I look around on the train and everyone is looking at their phones there will be an old guy not looking at his phone. He will see everyone looking at their phones and that makes him check his flip phone. Seemingly, without any new notifications, texts or calls, he will proceed to close the phone again all within 5 seconds. What a time saver!

I recall when I had moved to Australia for a few months. My iPhone 5S phone contract in Japan expired and the phone was sim-locked. That meant that after my 2-year contract to buy the phone had completed, I had to continue paying the same monthly price even after owning it and could only do so with the same company, Softbank, or use it as an iPod Touch. I chose the latter. It’s in my drawer as a backup micro-iPad now.

As luck would have it, the year after I had originally moved to Japan and had started my 2-year phone contract, the Japanese government stopped allowing telecom companies to SIM-lock phones after contracts completed…

On moving to Australia, I subscribed to cable internet at home that came with a landline phone number. I ended up buying a physical home phone with cordless capability! One day, when my new phone finally rang it rang loud and echoed through the condo. It scared the shit out of me. I ran around the house trying to find out if it was the doorbell, fire alarm, gas alarm, or something else. I had to laugh when I found that it was my new cordless phone with a piercing ringtone.

For every other service and encounter such as banks, post office, Uber, Uber Eats, etc., I would give them my landline phone number. Every business took down my landline number without interest, like I was telling them that I liked Indian food, and then proceeded to ask for my cell phone number that I didn’t have. On several occasions it seemed like the companies had to break the rules or put a special note on my file while over the phone, and while in person people looked at me like I had two heads.

To navigate Australia, I ended up getting a minimal SIM plan and pocket Wi-fi device that ironically had a cell phone number associated but could not be contacted. It worked well with my iPhone 5S iPod Touch. I can’t imagine what George has gone through over the last 7 years with his 2G phone, but at least it’s a cell phone!

He is a vegetarian and only drank alcohol on special occasions, like on my visit! That ruled out my current favorite Korean restaurants: Chicken and Beer, ‘ChiMek.’ He had bought pounds of spices on his prior trip to Nepal for 20 USD a couple of years back and was still using them. This seems to be a nice simple cooking method: put spices and other ingredients into the rice cooker with the rice. Boom, done. I’ll have to look up a recipe!

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A healthy Korean alcoholic drink, ‘moju’ – new to me! And pajeon.

Furthermore, he was doing 24 hour fasts on a regular basis… I vaguely recall people doing various kinds of cleanses like a fad a few years ago, but didn’t realize that people were still doing it, and doing it regularly. Apparently, many famous people had practiced fasting such as Leonardo da Vinci, Confucius, Pythagoras, and more! It supposedly helps to achieve mental clarity, and also mitigates disease. Counter-intuitively, it also burns fat first as opposed to losing muscle first when you simply eat less. I will have to try fasting one of these days and see what my mind clarifies.

At this point you might have guessed that George is also into meditation. He had started meditating at a local temple in Seoul and the monks noticed him and gave him a warm welcome. He is now a regular.

I have heard of meditation being a good practice for many successful people and have only tried it myself while lying in bed for a minutes before sleep.

I can’t say that I name many people that I have met who has such self-restraint, consistency, determination, and longevity. He is a borderline monk.

Part of me wants to be able to revert to a 2G phone and perhaps I’ll try it if something happened to my current phone. Otherwise, the mental clarity through fasting was most appealing to me to try: it’s cheap, mentally productive, and mitigates disease. It also aligns with what I had heard about some futurists trying to survive until immortality is discovered medically: people who generally eat less live longer.

These lifestyle choices aren’t my top priorities but at least have me intrigued as food for thought.


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