The Cobra’s Heart

“I lived in Africa for several years. I first went there in 1957. Then, over the next forty years, I returned whenever the opportunity arose. I travelled extensively, avoiding official routes, palaces, important personages, and high-level politics. Instead, I opted to hitch rides on passing trucks, wander with nomads through the desert, be the guest of peasants of the tropical savannah.

When in Rome. Or Africa.

Whenever I find myself in front of a group of students, or young people aspiring to work in development, I’m usually asked to share one piece of advice with them. I usually go with this: Get out there while you can and understand the context of the people you aspire to help.

Road to Hyderabad: T-10 Days!!

Friends, this is my second to last Road to Hyderabad post.  That means we are less than 2 weeks away from the opening of the Tech4Society event.To be honest, it still feels very far away.  There are lots of last minute arrangements and decisions to make.  Long ago I naively believed I would feel like we were “almost done” by this point.  Ha! At this point 10 days feels like both an incredibly long time and an incredibly short one.  It will be bizarre to write this post next week when we are truly just days away. 


Mount Elgon, Uganda (1998)I’m something of a walker. During my time at Stanford University my battered old trainers got me to and from most places, as they did in San Francisco and as they continue to do today in London, Cambridge and anywhere else life takes me. Walking – accompanied by my trusty iPod – is the only time I really ever get these days to think and contemplate. Classic downtime, I guess.

11 days, 12000 miles, progress, and sheep.

Eleven days and 8,500 miles ago I stepped on a plane to Washington DC (I’m about to do a final 3,500-odd miles back to London). It’s been a hectic but very productive few days.
To kick things off, I spent a couple of days with the Institute for Reproductive Health helping them design a prototype “standard days method” texting service using FrontlineSMS. It was exciting and interesting work, and I’m looking forward to following their future progress.

Different country, different lifestyle

One of the things that always strikes me when spending some extended period in another country is how quickly one’s lifestyle changes and adapts to the local environment. Interestingly this includes many areas of life such as sleep patterns, nutrition, communication, etc. which are normally seen as being very ingrained and hard to change. Anyway, below is a list of areas where I consider my Vienna and Kathmandu lives to be (radically) different.

Random observations after 6 days in Nepal

Kathmandu could easily be called NGOville as the number of NGOs in this city is simply insane. Especially the part of town where I live (near Sanepa Chowk) hosts what must be at least two dozen NGOs, ranging from UN organizations to World Vision and GTZ. Traffic here is just insanely chaotic. And watching it is an experience in itself.

Going to Nepal…

YES, I’m back on the road! :-) I’m typing these lines as I’m making use of a kiosk with free WiFi and charging here at Doha International Airport while waiting for my flight to Kathmandu. I’ll be in Nepal until the end of September, hanging out with my friends of OLE Nepal and soon to be joined by the one and only Daniel Drake.

How time flies

I just realized that it’s been exactly one year since I flew to Washington, D.C. to start my 3-month internship at the Austrian Embassy’s Office of Science and Technology. Really makes me realize just how quickly time flies by these days.

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