March 2, 2020

The Insight: Genetics and (pre)history of Southeast Asia

Razib and Spencer talk all things genetic and prehistorical Southeast Asia!

Link: The Insight: Genetics and (pre)history of Southeast Asia

February 22, 2020

More sleep and better learning

I have been arguing this for a long time.

Later school start times are associated with more sleep and better performance in high school students.

February 18, 2020

Tibetan stuff in Saigon

We were exploring some alleys and stumbled upon a shop run by a Vietnamese-Tibetan couple. They sell Incense and other religious goods from Tibet and Nepal. The kind owners offered us Tibetan tea. It reminded me of my time in Sichuan when I used to stay next to a Tibetan restaurant.

Tibetan shop in Saigon

Tibetan shop in Saigon

Travel Vietnam
February 2, 2020

Travel in the time of SARS

In early 2003, I spend some time in China travelling by trains in Guangdong and Hunan provinces. Trains were where you met interesting people - students, business folks, retired people with interesting stories from the 1960s and 70s, bored train security officers. Almost everyone was learning English, and they were keen to talk to me. Often people alighting at a station before mine would hand me fruits and snacks as a farewell gift.

In Changsha, I visited the school where Mao studied. The students, mostly teacher trainees, showed me around the campus. Almost every corner had a commemorative plaque that celebrated Mao. One talked about how Mao organised discussions on current affairs. Another one near a well praised Mao’s stoicism by informing us how he took cold water baths. The students were proud that they studied in such a prestigious school. I asked them I am sure Chairman Mao was a naughty kid. Is there a notice somewhere here that says - Chairman Mao was punished here?”. The students replied in unison Chairman Mao was a good boy”.

I only realised something was wrong in China when I flew from Guangzhou back to Bangkok. Our plane was made to wait for a long time before connecting to the embarkation gate. Once we alighted, they started checking everyone’s temperature. In Thailand, the papers were talking about SARS. Slowly news started trickling out of China. One of the students I met in the train messaged me that her roommates had thrown her out as she was from a town that had a high number of infections. There were a few months of chaos. But by the time I went to China in September that year, everything had turned normal. It was back to happy people waiting for me to share their stories.

In Guangzhou in 2003

February 1, 2020

The union


Something I learnt early on in my life was never to trust people who promise to do good to our” people” by doing bad to them people.”

January 18, 2020

A nest of spies and such

The Rex was where the journalists, spies and such people used to meet during the war years. Now lovers find happiness outside.

Another new place that brings nostalgia is the new premises of Brodard bakery.