A life of a babyboomer

Last week I went to enjoy Chicken Fried Noodle at a renowned street vendor. Recently this vendor was ranked number one by audience of a TV food show. It was so crowded that we needed to wait for one and a half hour to eat the food. 

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The entire place is operated by the owner, his wife and two workers. They open 7 days a week from 4pm to 10pm in which the owner has to stand continuously for six hours cooking by himself dish by dish everyday to ensure quality. During daytime, they also have to prepare the raw material. They have been doing the same routine over and over again non-stop for decades.

They live just a few metres away from the place. The house is very old, dirty and messy. They also dress poorly. People might look down at them, because they work on the street with close to zero education.

It is not difficult to roughly calculate their income.  Each day they sell at least 300 pans at 50 baht a pan. Assuming the gross margin is 50% (typical for food business), They are earning at least 2.8 million baht a year in profit. Having done this business for decades, they probably have 50-100 millions baht in saving since they do not have time to spend the money and possibly never want to do so.

Their lives depict the lifestyle of the baby-boomer generation, probably at the extreme. People of this generation tend to believe in hard work and they are very stingy on average. This contrasts to the lifestyle of the young generation in which they tend to believe in shortcuts and the philosophy of get-rich-fast. The young generation also put more emphasis on looking successful and therefore, unlike the old generation, they spend more money on cosmetics and/or luxury goods than the old generation We cannot say which generation is right but the mentality of these two generations are really poles apart.

This Generation

Recently I came across this book entiled “This Generation: dispatches from China’s most popular blogger” by Han Han. It’s a collection of selected blog posts by a young Chinese celebrity who is a car racer and a novelist in mainland China. Growing up in rurals, Han Han discovered that to be a car racer and novelist are among very few jobs in China that does not require high education to get ahead so he aimed for these career path and became very successful.

His blogs discussed social injustice and political issues in China so openly that some posts were erased within a few minutes by the government after being posted. It’s a good chance for those who do not read Chinese (e.g. myself) to have an insight into the Chinese society.

I found that social problems in China is strikingly similar to those in Thailand in which people are so brainwashed by some propagandas that they cannot think otherwise and witchhunt those who think differently. Although his writings might sound too critical for some people, he does have a very good knowledge ground to back up his viewpoints. He seems to understand the principle of liberty, freedom and democracy very well.

All in all, this book inspired me. I think the author and I have so much in common. China and Thailand have similar hidden problems waiting to be resolved. It’s helpful to broaden your perspectives by learning as much as possible about other countries instead of closing our eyes and keep tell ourselves we are the greatest nation or our problems are unique and must be solved only by our own ways.