Thursday, April 5, 2012

Slow Week

Not much happening here, just the routine but last week something a little different happened and got me to thinking. I have never been one to be star struck or to chase down autographs of celebrities and I think I have only seen a couple of rock stars and professional athletes in my life. However, for some reason I have now met and shaken hands with two billionaires.
The first one was in 2007 when I met George Soros who is the patron of Central European University, my alma mater. I did not know much about the man before I studied there and I believed his vision for CEU was a generally positive one. A place where students from all over the world, particularly those coming out of the soviet sphere, could interact and study in an open challenging environment. I later found Mr. Soros has a somewhat controversial past and remains a lightning rod for controversy. He made his fortune in the financial sector and some believe much of his wealth was ill-got. He has recently been attacked by Glen Beck as a liberal puppet-master orchestrating the downfall of the US. I am in no position to comment on any of this, he seemed like a nice old man when I crossed dais and shook his hand.
Last week I was called in to work as our college had some very special VIPs coming to tour the institute. As I am a linchpin of the entire operation it was necessary I attend, or it could be because I am the whitest of the foreign teachers. I like to believe it was the former.
We arrived to find that the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Education, and a special adviser to the king would be coming to inspect our little facility. Also in attendance was the president of a large company which is the largest sponsor of the college, Bakr Bin Laden of the Bin Laden Group. He is Osama's brother and a pretty big deal in Saudi Arabia. One thing that impressed me about him was despite his age, he's quite old, he drove himself to the college. Also, his Mercedes is ridiculously nice. Again because of his brother and the general issues surrounding the politics and religiosity in the Kingdom Bakr is a somewhat controversial figure. I cannot comment on this as I met him for about 3 seconds.
Other than a chance to name drop these episodes made me think of the difficulties of being in a position of power and wealth. Perhaps it's impossible to climb to the top of a particular mountain without bending the rules and stepping on and over others. Or perhaps it's the jealousies of others that cast these shadows on the high and mighty. I remember sitting at a bar once and wealthy man bought a round for everyone at the bar and as soon as he left the knives came out. So when I finally ascend into the upper echelons of power and influence please try to keep your envy in check. 


  1. If Mr. Bin Laden gets a negative reaction, he can be 100% sure it's not due to his wealth.

  2. Good morning how are you?
    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.
    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.
    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Saudi Arabia? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Saudi Arabia in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:
    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)
    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.
    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez