I tried out a new story I'm planning to use for a case study in class on a friend recently and it landed nicely. I said to him:

In diverse blue places like NY/NJ/CA/DC/Boston we see a lot of Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern restaurants, right?
He says right.
And in day to day life in these places, how often do you come across an Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Middle Eastern person?

He said very regularly. Almost daily.

Right. There's also a lot of Italian restaurant. Lots of Italian origin people.

What is one cuisine that is as common as any of these cuisines all over USA, but you barely meet any immigrants from that country?

He was like hmmm, Vietnamese? Caribbean?

I said nah, lots of immigrants/refugees from both places.

This cuisine has no real immigrant history!
The answer is Thai food. How many Thai people do you meet over the course of your life in the US? Very very few. How many Thai restaurants will pop up if you're in the US and check Yelp? At least a couple of them, right?

The answer is not very puzzling. It's a Thai govt thing.
Multiple agencies across the Thai govt spend a lot of resources and planning and labor on this "gastrodiplomacy" policy.

The reason the Thai diaspora is negligible compared to those other nations but Thai food is everyone is not well known but simple.

There are just 300K Thai people in all of America. There are more than twice as many Indians in just the NYC area. But there are more Thai restaurants in the US than there are Indian restaurants. Because of a very unusual and innovative government program.
Context of this story will be a case study about the marketing and logistics strategies of the Thai government in this undertaking. It's most fascinating!
I don't mean case study as in a single pdf from Harvard with neat tables and all. I've kinda aged out of those. I'm phasing them out and replacing them with "case studies" of my own design. I don't write it all up. I choose a relevant context. Then...

Then I find a bunch of free publicly available stuff like papers avlbl thru Univ library, longform articles (like the Vice one above), serious blog posts, relevant videos and/or podcasts, choose about 4-5 of them. And that's their preparation for the class. To read/watch/hear.
I "lead" a couple of case study discussions myself first, as an example. Then student groups take turns leading case studies. They are encouraged to Google more stuff and read it if they like and use it in their analysis and class participation. And then we dive in.
There are no neatly collected tables and helpful business questions and a protagonist manager with easily identifiable problems. Like I said, I've aged out of those kinds of case studies. This approach is more fun. And everything is free and publicly available!
Oooh, should add a related story. Salmon in sushi seems as natural and normal as tuna in sushi but it is an extremely recent "innovation"! Japan didn't really eat salmon till the 90s.

But again, a government plan! This time, the Norwegians! Whaaaat?

In the 70s, Norwegians had lots of great quality salmon but not enough Norwegians to sell it too. They looked at Japan which had recently started importing fish and where customers had deep pockets. They were like yo, Japan, how about y'all put our salmon in sushi? It's so good!
Japan recoiled with horror at first. It's not like they went oooh, what an idea! Send it over. Initial attempts were met with failure. Concerns from tradition and authenticity ("salmon on sushi? blasphemy!") to health concerns about whether salmon could even be consumed raw!
So there was a looooong campaign funded by the Norwegian government to market salmon, especially for sushi, to the Japanese. Cos sushi was starting to have a big market in the US too. They went all out. Some interesting bits.

Full story - medium.com/torodex/salmonโ€ฆ
Alright, Thai Food and Salmon sushi. Those two case studies should take up a week easily. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

See, this is why I love Twitter. It helps so much with my teaching. A random comment from @patrix and I have one hour of class planned!
See, this is why I love my job. I can keep reading fascinating new stories and then telling them to a captive audience and they pay me for it! ๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿคซ

โ€ข โ€ข โ€ข

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More from @gauravsabnis

18 Nov
Setting up a meeting with the provost for a visiting candidate and remembered my own interview with the provost when I interviewed at Stevens. And a funny bit from it.

The meeting was planned kinda last second at the end of a day filled with interviews and presentation. /1
Back then, the provost interview used to be a separate stage at Stevens (now we do it with the campus visit). But apparently the dean & search committee liked me enough to rustle up a last second meeting. Cos I had 2 other offers and they wanted to move fast.
So suddenly, after about 10 straight hours of talking and talking and talking, as I was looking forward to relax a bit before more talking at dinner, I was told, hey, come, let's have you meet the provost. I'm happy cos it's a positive sign. But also a bit thrown off. Just a bit.
Read 13 tweets
17 Nov
Oooh yes! A ripe topical topic for #AcademicTwitter.

Is having classes on the Monday, Tuesday before Thanksgiving break just stupid or extremely stupid?

It's been my standard procedure for a decade to announce on day 1 of fall semester that there will be no class that week.
It took me just two years of teaching in the US to realize the utter futility and even low key cruelty of scheduling classes on those two days. So many students are so far from home and so strapped for cash. Even the "best" students will often take those days off.
All universities in the US should give the entire Thanksgiving week off and eliminate the entirely pointless two days of classes, which neither the average professor nor the average student is very keen on. And see THE lowest attendance of the year. With good reason.
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov
LOL, I also convert oxygen into carbon dioxide.

It is my Twitter account. Of course the debates I want to start are selective and driven by my agenda.

Why would I start debates on someone else's agenda? Twitter is free. They have their own accounts. Image
These sanghis randomly show up demanding some mythical objectivity from me as is I'm some newspaper's editorial board.

I am me. I have my agenda. I tweet it.
On my last Pune visit, a childhood acquaintance said, "don't mind haan, I love your food & travel & cricket tweets a lot, but when you talk Indian politics, it seems like you're mostly obsessed with calling out the RSS and brahminism."

I said, "Yup. Why aren't you?"
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov
Whenever some Desi repeats that sanghi propaganda line "Holocaust was bad but Hitler was a great orator", open YouTube and ask that person to watch, uninterrupted and silently, a Hitler speech. And watch them squirm.

He was a HORRIBLE screechy "orator". Objectively!
Goebbels famously talked about the virtue of repeating a lie so much that it becomes accepted as the truth. And the bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed.

His greatest triumph was the continuing widespread belief that Hitler gave great speeches.

Sit through one.
(lots of subtitled videos online. Don't ask me for links. Use Google.)
Read 6 tweets
17 Nov
Wow, literally the first and only time I went was in 2008 at age 28. So I guess the next trip won't be for a while. ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ
(I have been to konkan a lot tho, so no stranger to Arabian Sea vacations. Just that where I grew up, it was always, "Goa kiti mahaag padta aani kashala? Pori baghaayla gaccha gardeet? Tyapeksha aapla Diveagar-Dapoli barey! Masta maasey, rikaame swacchha beach, ah!")
Translation - "Goa is nice but so expensive! And for what? Staring at hot women on overcrowded beaches? Nah! Let's do Diveagar or Dapoli instead. Much cheaper. Empty clean beaches. Fresh awesome fish."

Why growing up in Pune, never made it to Goa.
Read 11 tweets
17 Nov
I'm mildly surprised that the Muslim world and especially Muslim social media worldwide is mostly ignoring the daily assaults on Muslims in India by the state on a daily basis.
You don't have to be a doctorate in history to see the direct parallels.

Nazis used a pincer movement strategy not just on the battlefield but also against their hated minorities.

From one side, vigilante mobs butchering people.

The other, legislation & economic attacks.
In 1930s Germany, they created legislative hurdles against marrying Jews. And roving mobs of brownshirts would punish defiant lovers and even random couples. Ranging from public shaming to murder.

That is playing out with love jihad and Romeo squad.
Read 36 tweets

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