Once more for the Spinal Beetle and Southasia connectivity

Spinal Beetle with its Nepali eyes arrives in Pakistan

Here’s the latest report of the Southasian journey undertaken recently by my friend, civil rights activist, writer and journalist (editor Himal SouthasianKanak Mani Dixit, his wife Shanta (a teacher) and son Eelum (an actor, and yes, his name derives from ‘ilm’ which means knowledge, named by his dada, Kanak’s father who is a prominent writer).

Eelum, Kanak and Shanta Dixit: A great drive

The family started their 1100-mile odyssey in Kathmandu, Nepal, ending in Peshawar, Pakistan, to raise funds and awareness about the need for spinal injury rehabilitation. Those who have been following this issue would know that Kanak injured his spine in a trekking accident a decade ago. He survived, making a near miraculous recovery, and started the Spinal Centre Nepal in 2002, inaugurated by the late Sir Edmund Hillary. The coverage they’ve got on this journey has helped publicize their drive tremendously but the required funds have not arrived, and they are well short of their target. This is a personal appeal. Please donate what you can for this important cause. And do read this riveting account of their journey, includes important insights and information… Continue reading

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Confessions of a tweet addict

My column Personal Political in Hardnews, India, written a couple of weeks ago. Was too caught up in event on the ground and forgot to post it. Still relevant.

Beena Sarwar

I admit it. I’m addicted to twitter.

Like many others, the first time I heard about this ‘social networking tool’, my initial response was, “What’s the point?”

It was in spring 2006, at the end of a journalism fellowship in the USA. “Try it,” urged Jeb Sharp, a radio journalist. “It’s cool. You can update friends about what you’re thinking or doing and you have to do it in 140 characters or less.”

Out of curiosity, I made myself a twitter account. The whole thing seemed a bit silly. The twitter icon is a little blue bird. The messages you post are called ‘tweets’. It all sounds very fluffy and twittery. And why create a twitter account if you have facebook? Continue reading

Not just hot air – Himal Southasian zindabad

This article was published in The News on Sunday (TNS) as Mountain magazine resort’, on the Footloose page, Dec 20, 2009 for a special issue on conference tourism

Not just hot air

Himal Southasian, Feb 1998

There are conferences and there are conferences. Some organisers lure participants with travel and daily allowances and fancy hotels at exotic locales. Others rely on goodwill and commitment. If it’s the latter, it helps to be located in an exotic place anyway — like Kathmandu. It also helps if the organisers are professional colleagues for whom you have the highest regard.

These last two factors contribute to my ‘favourite’ conference being one that took place in Kathmandu in early 1996. The man behind it was Kanak Mani Dixit, whom I had met at an earlier South Asia conference about water resources organised by Panos some years ago. Kanak had decided to turn his ‘mountain magazine’ Himal into a Southasian venture (there is a reason Himalers write ‘Southasian’ as one word – for an explanation see the published magazine or the Himal Southasian website.

So Kanak got together a few journalists from around Southasia to meet and brainstorm on this venture. He put Mitu Varma from New Delhi (who later became Country Representative in India for Panos South Asia) and myself up at the Third World Guest House in Pattan, one of the five ancient kingdoms around Kathmandu that are conserved as World Heritage sites. Continue reading

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