Two years in Asia
June 2009. Penang, Malaysia. Reading newspaper - "racial origins so intrinsic to our very being"; listening to leading scholars - "how to prioritize your audiences? 1. private sector 2. policy maker 3. academia"; watching TV - "MM Lee criticizes Penang's low speed of development"; visiting the house of Sun Yat-Sen - "Penang has changed Chinese history". This is Asia.
September 2009. Manila, the Philippines. Typhoon Ondoy crashed the ceiling of my conference hotel. Professional journalists were so concerned by bloggers and their amateur practices. Intramuros was surrounded by water. Aileen Baviera introduced the political scene - popular participation w/o competitive elections, rule of law w/o human rights, government responsiveness w/o transparency. National museum was under water. Dozens of journalists would be killed one month later in Maguindanao. This is Asia.
December 2009. KL, Malaysia. After presenting my paper, a question went like this - do you consider what you just talked about research (because research is supposed to challenge power)? I was meeting my collaborator during the break. Our keynote speaker looked at him and asked why you are here! They both happen to be scholar-musician. This is Asia.
January 2010. Shanghai and Nanjing, China. The air was crispy cold and I ran through Shanghai from the East to the West. I constantly wondered - how many cities are there in Shanghai? I spent most of my holiday shopping on taobao.com and soon forgot the inconvenience of GFW. Nanjing was only an apartment with an Internet access. This is home.
February 2010. Colombo, Sri Lanka. All my knowledge about this drop of tear came from three sources: Wiki, Lonely Planet, and a novel called Serendipity. Soldiers at check points stopped your vehicle with loaded guns. Cell phone vendors showed off their products - all made in China! The wind from the sea was different in Galle Face hotel as the sunshine was different in barefoot. Youngsters were holding a drinking party on an empty terrace. The midnight of Colombo 6 was unusually quiet. Michael Jackson was unusually familiar, bringing back memories. This is Asia.
March 2010. Delhi, India. When waiting for traffic lights, a girl knocked the window and pointed to her mouth. She rolled her eyes when we handed her a pack of fries and 1 rupee. Dilli Haat has the most beautiful fabrics you have ever seen. The salesman asked for 1500 rupee for a blouse which we bought later at 400. I said if taking out Indians and putting in Chinese, Delhi is just like a northern city in China. My Kenyan friend said if taking out Indians and putting in Kenyans, Delhi is just like Nairobi. Is this Asia?
March 2008. Singapore. Before flying back to the US, Millie smiled at me and welcomed me to CNM.
Here I am, Asia.
I am an Associate Professor at Department of Communication and New Media, National University of Singapore.