Friday, October 26, 2012

Rethinking 42 with Roya Mahboob - Afghanistan's first female tech-entrepreneur

I first met Roya Mahboob when I visited Afghanistan over a year ago. She left a strong impression on me as a young, energetic and optimistic entrepreneur, in a country not known in particular for female entrepreneurship. Today, I circled back to her to hear about her experiences.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Rethinking 42 with Nin: A failed Lao monk turns top filmmaker

I've been working with Lao filmmaker, IT activist and ex-monk Thanavorakit Kounthawatphinyo (better known as Nin) on a number of projects over the past year, and in the course of working together, we became friends. Nin has a unique view on life, which I thought is worth sharing. I sat down with Nin, and Puppy, his horse-sized dog, at Pha That Luang - the 1800 year old Buddhist stupa in Vientiane, Laos, for an chat.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rethinking 42 with Anan Bouapha, Laos gay leader

(some of the sections of this interview containing more personal questions were removed on Monday 23/7 9am Laos time, per Anan's request. The original interview text was approved by Anan prior to publishing, but he had second thoughts after seeing it live, which is totally legitimate dl)

Anan Bouapha is the unofficial recognized leader of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) community in the Asian country of Laos, who recently organized the country's first ever Pride event, hosted at the US embassy. Anan is involved in a million and one activities around LGBT empowerment and HIV prevention. I sat down with him for a chat on the answer to life, the universe and everything. Our meeting was appropriately set to 11pm at Pack Luck, a gay-friendly bar in Vientiane. On a Thursday night, the bar was empty except for us - myself, being in the midst of a self-imposed no-alcohol month, sipping mineral water and Anan drinking coke. I wonder how this bar stays in business.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Revealing my Exotometer

"Where are you coming from?" "I am flying in from Laos". The security person at Istanbul airport stares down at me with a look that almost makes me want to confess that I am a terrorist: "there is no such country" he asserts. I reply softly, "Sir, I can assure you there is a country like that. It is next to Thailand".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life and Death of Written Languages

First: a quiz: how many "primary written languages" are there in the world? By "primary written languages" I don't mean languages that merely have an orthography (writing system) developed in academia - I mean languages which are truly written in the real world - in other words, languages which their native speakers (or other nationals of their respective countries) use as their language of choice for reading and writing. Examples: English, Amharic, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese. Examples of languages that are widely used verbally, but their native speakers do not use them as their primary language for writing: Swiss Deutsch, Hausa, Balinese, Zulu.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On the Perceived Directionality of the World

In the past few months I have been fortunate to be able to visit some places in which Salafi Islam has a strong following - countries like Somalia, Afghanistan and the Kashmir valley in India. It was when I was sitting in a tea shop having strong Somali tea and chatting with some Somali elders on a quiet Friday morning in Hargeisa, that it suddenly occurred to me.