Some Reflections: Three Years In NYC

My Back Against The Wall



Came To Launch Company

A Web 3.0 Manifesto

I moved to NYC summer of 2005 to launch my company, but I got distracted by urgent Nepal work. I got sucked into it. I was actually surprised that I cared about Nepal so much. It also felt like cutting edge work. It was not journalism, it was not in-your-pajamas blogging, it was cutting edge work, political work. What ended up happening in April 2006 was sheer magic. It was all over the NYC media, for one. I functioned in a cloud group dynamics environment. But my presence was felt. Let me share a story.

In February 2006 Madhav Nepal, then leader of the largest party in Nepal, was put under house arrest by the royal regime. A month later he managed to smuggle wireless internet access into his residence. It helped that his brother lived in the house next door. The first person he contacted was me. We chatted on Google Talk.

But during those first few months I did meet a guy who was about to launch a hatchery somewhere upstate. He claimed he met Bill Gates before Gates took his company public.

The Nepal work was intense: days, nights, weekends. It was a zombie existence. Best work I have done so far. April 2006: in a country of 27 million, the poorest country outside of Africa (we are the Arkansas of the world), a total of eight million people came out into the streets at one time or another over a period of 19 days to completely shut the country down until the royal dictatorship toppled. It was not easy. The king had issued shoot at sight orders.

The First Major Revolution Of The 21st Century Happened In Nepal
The French Revolution And DFNYC

There were two follow-ups: in January-February 2007, and more recently in February 2008. This was the civil rights movement for us Madhesis inside Nepal. We got our own state in a to be federal Nepal.

Most important, I think a formula has come out of Nepal that has to be shared with all those countries that are not yet democracies: Democracy Spreading Mechanism. I desperately want to sell this formula to the progressives in New York City and beyond. That is how you beat the neocons.



Weak Social Muscles

My natural self is I am bubbley and excited socially. But the zombie existence necessitated by the Nepal work and the subsequent Obama work came with a price. At the low points I would show up for events, I would find it is hard for me to connect to any one person for more than 30 seconds or a minute or two at most. It felt almost like a medical condition. It is an occupational hazard of the 2.0 workers like cabbies who don't exercise end up with backaches.

2.0 is not about to go away. Nepal work was followed by Obama work has been followed by a young startup. But the biggest lesson I have learned so far in the city has been that there is no 2.0 without 5.0. Got to strike a balance or you will go nuts. (Web 5.0: Face Time)

Barack's Mother Makes An Appearance
Barack Has To Talk Much About His Mother

During the Nepal work, I did not much notice, it felt like being in a trance. But I have noticed after that.

New York City's Progressive Galaxy



Politics, Business, Media, Academia

2.0 makes Nepal work and Obama work seamless. 2.0 also makes it possible to dip into a few different domains seamlessly: politics, business, media, academia.



Internet, Race, Gender

Internet access is the voting right for this century. That is why I can't imagine running for any office locally. That would be such a diversion from what I want to do for my people, my Global South people. My tech startup is really the 21st century NAACP, if you will. I am very political, true, but I think I would be a lousy legislator. It is the executive branch that gets me. A CEO is an executive. My digital democrat ways suit me perfect: I get to skip the shaking hands part.

The last was the American century. This is the Internet century. You can't bring everyone to America, but you can take America to everybody. The Internet is how you do it.

Internet is technology, but race and gender are social issues. How are they related? The Internet is a social technology, that is how. The Internet is the only way to bridge the gap between the West and the Global South.

So the jump from Nepal to Obama to tech startup is a progression. It is not like I jumped ship, quit politics, and went for a whole different career altogether. Think seamlessness.



Race, Gender

If you are not comfortable talking race and gender, you are not a true progressive in my book. That is the best way to make progress on both.



Love

Love is a mysterious thing. It is my social observation that most people stick to their own kind, and that is all cool. If shared interests is a good enough reason, perhaps shared culture is also a good enough reason.

Confronting My Own Demons

But all that mumbojumbo is until you find The Person. I have dropped the ball many times with the person I like. The mandatory coat check was only the latest trigger that threw me off balance. There were a few before that. But I believe I am past the obvious triggers by now. I still have a past to deal with. And race is part of the social reality. But I feel like I might be at the cusp of a new beginning. We will find out.

I Am Different

What excites me, what fascinates me is the future. Shared culture does not get me. The Nepalis in NYC are so full of social ills - ethnic prejudices, sexism, internalized racism - that they are like medical patients to me. 99% of them are from a very different ethnicity, it is like they were white, I were black. Same with my Indian heritage. I am Bihari. Most Indians in the US are Gujarati, Maratha and Tamil.

It is no accident that most people I have got to know and like in the city are political junkies. (Progressive Political Religion: No Place For Superpowers) I feel like I share a religion with them, nothing less. DL21C is the crown jewel among the organizations in the city. It has to grow fast and wild: Blueprint For DL21C: Party Inside A Party.

My closest friend in the city is my business partner, Adam. He is amazing. We are going to do big things together. Right now he is in Romania with his fiance and her family. I have asked Anna and Adam to pray for me Wednesday in Romania. The dude proposed to her towards the end of their cross country road trip last month. I believe they were up in the mountains.

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