Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kiva - Changing the world one microloan at a time time.

Inspired by an article in the The San Francisco Chronicle about a former Googler and later by Bill Clinton's latest book "Giving", I came across an organization called Kiva (www.kiva.org). Based in San Francisco (of course) they use the power of the web to connect small entrepreneurs who need microloans with people around the world who want to make loans as small as $25. In their own words:

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

I gave it a whirl. It was a breeze and in a few minutes I felt like an International Banker having extended two tiny, tiny loans to two entrepreneurs in Cambodia and Kenya.

Meet my entrepreneurs.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blogger now allows users to type Hindi text in English and blogger transliterates it for you. So even though I can barely write in Hindi any more due to long years of disuse I can still speak it। So all I need to do is to hit a toggle button, write Hindi text in a rough English equivalent and Blogger transliterates for me. Very cool and nifty feature.

An ancient chant like

Asatoma Sat Gamaya
Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya
Mrityoma Amritam Gamaya

when typed into blogger becomes

असतोमा सत गमय
तमासोमा ह्योतिर गमय
मृत्योमा अमृतं गमय

I await the explosion of Hindi blogs from what MTV calls the Hinglish generation.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dont Worry. Be Happy

Bobby McFerrin rode to fame in 1988 with his album Simple Pleasures, where he scored a chart-topping pop smash with "Don't Worry, Be Happy". But last week The Economist , yes that purveyor of the dismal science, joined the ranks of sappy happiness Gurus when it tried to analyze why people are not getting any happier even as the world economy is on its way to notching up its best decade ever. Market capitalism is doing its job well in terms of raising living standards but not necessarily making people happier which may be best left to saints and philosophers.

There are some fundamental problems according to The Economist. Capitalism is highly efficient in bringing to the masses what only a few elite enjoyed - cars, fashion goods, gourmet food, exotic vacations. But these luxuries soon become necessities. Once you are on the tiger you cannot dismount.

Second, there are a set of good and services that people believe will make them happy that are limited by necessity. These "positional goods" such as a a tony address or a fancy car or a top education lose their value if everyone has it. So a Harvard degree is no longer prized if everyone who applies is accepted into the program irrespective of the intrinsic value of a superior edification of the mind.

The race to be happy forces people to climb to the highest rung of the social ladder which forces others to climb harder and faster to keep up. What is the point?

As The Economist editorial concluded, "Capitalism can make you well off. And it also leaves you free to be as unhappy as you choose. To ask any more of it would be asking too much". I must admit that, John Micklethwait, the 16th editor of the August publication does have a sense of humor.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

There were many holiday greetings and messages that arrived over the last few days. But this one from Louis a fellow burner and an annual visitor to and denizen of Black Rock City gently touched my heart.

Dear Members of the Tribe, the Clan, The Family, The Extended Family:

Happy Solstice!

This has been an amazing year !!!

Filled with wonder and discovery !!!

Filled with love and friendship !!!

Filled with conflict and the ability to sit with it !!

Filled with events that require more energy to negotiate and navigate !

Filled with new love and transformed love, growing friendships and continuing friendships and friendship that span almost an entire life ….

and for all the above I am grateful

I am connected to all of you as I am connected to all things

I wish you all safe journeys whilst you follow your path

I wish you love & light

I wish you joy & wonder

I wish eternal curiosity

I wish you gentleness and firmness in all things

I wish you intentionality & will

I wish you strength & courage

I wish you quietness & stillness

I wish a rich tapestry upon to weave your life story

I wish you a smorgasbord of experiential delights

I wish for you what you want for yourself…..

With love & gratitude