And the result is…

Big day today.

Millions of Australians will end it comatose, as the annual Melbourne Cup tradition of drinking-your-entire-body-weight-in-beer-before-lunch will ensure that particular country’s collective outputs for 24 hours will be, at best, sub-optimal.

As the table-top dancing down under comes to a close, the United States of America will awake to Election Day, with polls still saying the result is “too close to call” – hopefully this is a canny angle to ensure media sales rather than pointing to the prospect of the world’s most powerful nation being led by Mitt “The Binder” Romney.

In Saigon, very little attention is being given to either of these events by the locals today.  Many international media outlets have tried to express what the US Election outcome will mean to the rest of the world.  For the lady who sold me a coffee on the street outside our office just now, it is implausible to find a connection between her daily grind with that of the politics playing out on the other side of the world.

But this gap is shrinking.  It will continue to take further generational change for some of the positive aspects of global citizenship to really shift the status quo.  But it will happen.  And the role of the private sector in accelerating this is finally being recognised.  Business as usual is changing. Continue reading

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When in Islamabad…

The last day of August, and a setting sun has just drawn a very memorable week here in Islamabad to a serene close.

A final cup of tea out in the backyard of the CARE staff house, as our security guard bows his head onto a prayer mat on the front lawn, and Islam, CARE’s resourceful housekeeper, beams at me as he bounds off for a game of cricket.

I have grown fond of Islamabad, and this staff house, since arriving here a week ago, dog-tired as I was at the time from a day’s travel, trying to process the sounds and sights glimpsed in the dark through the window of the car that whisked me from the airport.

Over a final lunch with colleagues earlier today – who insisted on taking me to one of their favourite local BBQ restaurants – the true diversity, turmoil, humanity, and sheer respect for life, that course through the heartbeat of this country, finally sunk in. Continue reading

Myanmar: whereto next for Asia’s latest emerging market?

It is Tuesday evening, and I’m on my way back to Saigon, however am currently stuck on the runway at Bangkok airport, grounded, thanks to a horrendous monsoon downpour.

Looking out from my cabin window it is as if the plane is underwater.  In fact, given night time is fast setting in, it is more like being underwater in the dark, save for a few flashing neon lights going off from the terminal opposite.

Not being a great flyer myself, and having read the Thai Airways in-flight magazine only yesterday, it is at times like this when I resort to writing about something, to take my mind off both the delay of getting home, and the inevitable panic of turbulence that is awaiting me once we head off.

Last post, you were subject to a freak moment of poetry which I succumbed to at Kuala Lumpur airport, right now I am going to fill you in on Myanmar, a country in which I have just had the pleasure of spending a swift 24 hours… Continue reading

On top of the world

And so to Kathmandu, where I have been for the past four days…

The capital of Nepal, and a city worthy of the much used phrase “a melting pot,” Kathmandu is breathtaking.  Breathtaking in every sense of the word.

The city has a population of 5 million, and is situated at the foot of the Himalayas, in a valley so enclosed by mountains that all flights coming in and going out are forced to perform spiralling ascents and descents, so as to successfully avoid giving their passengers too close a view of the snowy topped peaks.

There is no grass in Kathmandu.  That is, there are no parks and lawns.  In terms of other grass that one might smoke, there is plenty.  In fact on Monday when I arrived, it was the god Shiva’s most holy day of the year.  The temples were inundated, as were the local pot dealers, because Monday marked the one day of the year when smoking dope in Nepal is fully legal (I heard this from a colleague you understand, rather than from experience….ahem…) Continue reading