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❄️ Freezethawed: The Newsletter #007 - An age-old anecdote on life


The past fortnight has been really busy, to say the least, with multiple on-calls, OPDs, article submissions and proposals all taking place simultaneously. This led me to think, has being “busy” become the new badge of honour we like to hold up with pride?

We are not only in an age of information overload but opinion overload as well. Are we busy not because we have a sense of internal mission or busy because people are busy? Lastly, when was the last time “I’m busy” just rolled off our tongue when we didn’t find it convenient to make time for something?

I wish to write a bit more on this soon. Until then, with the seed planted, I love to know what your thoughts on this are while I gather mine.

Heinrich Böll’s short story by about an encounter between an enterprising tourist and a small fisherman, in which the tourist suggests how the fisherman can improve his life is one I am sure you have heard of. The story, with its several adaptions, has been circulated widely on the internet and has been quoted in many books and scholarly papers. In one of the most popular versions, the tourist is an American (an MBA from Harvard in some versions), and the fisherman is Mexican. It is often quoted in texts that discuss the relationship between money and happiness, and I feel it needs a re-telling in today’s day and age, where we are, all too “busy” to make time for the things we really want to do in life.

I’ll leave you with the story below.

Until next time!


An age-old anecdote on life:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play the guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play the guitar with your amigos.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this week’s newsletter.

Write to me at: contact@anujeetpaul.com