Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goldilocks for Expensive Expats: the "Golden Spot" for Foreigner's Living Costs?

Having had (and from what it is looks like, still having) many opportunities to live different countries where standards of living vis-a-vis their relative costs varies dramatically, the author has come to realize that the common perception that more developed countries = more expensive actually is just a misconception.  The belief that better the standard of living, the more it costs, from a comparative global perspective, seem to have little factual basis on the ground to support it.  The author's latest physical move help further validate the theory.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dubai: an Omen for the (Good Version of) Humanity in the Not-so-Distant Future

The author, like many people elsewhere, often daydreams about what the world in the future may look like.  And as a not-so-well-trained social scientist, he does have certain observational tools to help hi decode the general trends of where humanity is heading toward.  There is no definitive, absolute vision of future, of course.  There are simply too many factors that will derail any concrete details.  In the worst case scenario, Hollywood has already made countless predictions with apocalyptic sci-fi films.  Everything from nuclear holocaust to life-ending climate change to alien invasion is definitely possible.

Indian Bureaucracy for Better or Worse

It is funny how the greatest stories out of the author’s India trip have come out of flying in and out of the country itself.  After getting racially profiled on the way in as described in the previous post, now it is time to reflect on the exit…So the incident occurs at the immigration check at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, where the 6am line was the author, a white woman in front of him, and one operational immigration counter with an Indian family of three. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Putting Indian Soft Power at the Cusp of Globalization

Every time the author goes to see an Indian film, with its fanciful, high octane dance moves, he wonders why this particular genre, so prolific in absolute terms, have not made a bigger splash on the global stage.  Contrary to what many people say, many Bollywood films are not particularly plotted narrowly for the comprehension of only an Indian audience, and indeed have simple straightforward good-guy-vs-bad-guy story-lines that are so tantamount to Hollywood's success in places where knowledge of American culture and English language is still sorely lacking.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

India: a First Impression - Racial Profiling, Traffic, and Different Cities within a City

It was meal time on the (non-budget airlines) flight into Mumbai from Bangkok.  As per standard practice, the flight attendants went about up the aisle, asking "fish or chicken?" and handing out the appropriate meal as requested.  Then he came upon this particular traveler, who stared back at him, awaiting for him to pop the standard question.  He stared back blankly, and without a word, fixed a meal tray, and handed over.  "Here, Thai food."  He whispered, not expecting a comprehensible reply, moving on before the surprised author can say "thank you" in return.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wait, What is Winter Again? - A Random Thought on Economics of Everlasting Summer

When people are bored, they talk about the weather.  It is the conversation to end all conversations, a topic so bland that you will start to question your friendship with the person you are talking to.  Yet, few hours after transiting from Hong Kong to Bangkok, this traveler cannot stop reminding himself just how much "good weather" really means for traveling...and perhaps living in general.  Although plenty south already in a part of world where the word "snow" probably means climatic apocalypse in both metaphorical and practical terms, even slight temperature differences certainly do mean a lot.

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Should We Speak Mandarin or English?" - A Confusion of Self-Identity

For a Chinese visitor to the supposedly Cantonese-only territories of Macau and Hong Kong, which of their supposed "second language" to use, as the author has been figuring out firsthand, a matter of trial and error, coupled with self-reflection on the identity of both the speaker and the audience.  For most people, the answer to the question raised in the title is more than obvious: if you don't speak Cantonese, just speak whichever one that you are able to, and can make the local Hong Konger or Macanese understand.  Simple enough.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Corruption as a Publicized Cause for Ending Political Rivalry

It has been more than a month since one of the largest typhoon swept across Philippines, destroying major towns along the way, and killing tens of thousands, with several times more still unaccounted for in remote, still unreachable villages.  Previously, discussions on the lack of political will to build adequate infrastructure, legitimatized by the democratically elected political dynasties building up local cults of personality among uneducated voters, only served to exacerbate the suffering.  But the intersection of systemic corruption and politics, interestingly enough, is now an Asia-wide issue.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How Ephemeral is Grandeur: There is No Timelessness in Any Kind of Wealth

The passing of Nelson Mandala surely brings about a slew of emotions from people across the world.  As a symbol of a Third World leader fighting against unjust and institutionalized discrimination on racial basis, his nonviolent resistance and quickness to forgive his enemies exemplify the humanitarian nature needed by so sorely lacking to bring about peaceful resolution of debilitating ethnic conflicts. Yet, while touring the former financial center of Manila, the author has come to realize just how quickly any positive recognition will pass, covered up by unresolved issues that will shift attentions elsewhere.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Persistent Cultural Heritage of Anti-Colonial Non-Alignment

For those interested in political history of the global South, Bandung, some three hours by train east of Indonesian capital of Jakarta, holds a very significant place.  As the host city of the 1955 Asia Africa Conference that brought together leaders of newly independent/established Third World countries ranging from Nasser in Egypt to Nehru of India to Sukarno from Indonesia.  The Conference brought together a coalition of these new countries on collective behavior with intensifying Cold War as the global backdrop.