I was in Cambodia for a planning conference over the last week. That should partly explain my absence from the blogosphere. The hotel(I suspect the city) was somewhat Internet unfriendly:-)
And once again I enjoyed my break from our media dominated/ saturated world. That makes it twice in the last two months.
The conference was held in the beautiful temple city of Siam Reap. In a country that has been ravaged by civil strife, it was great to see it bounce back with spirit and simplicity. The combination of a tourist friendly nation and the heritage of Angkor Vat temples was breathtaking...
I could have come back with just a touristy notion which often is superficial and 'feel great'. But for the cello recital of Dr. Beat Richner - a Swiss doctor who in the past 15 years has opened three children's hospitals in Cambodia, all run from private donations! The doctor holds a cello concert in Siam Reap every Saturday night to raise money for the hospital.
During and after the cello recital Dr. Richner made an impassioned plea for money
and blood for the Cambodian children. Opened our eyes to the WHO and most of the West's obsession with glamour-diseases like SARS and AIDS and the blind eye turned to non-glam diseases like diarrhoea, tuberculosis and simply anaemia.
Complex and horrific health facts came to the surface which had been camouflaged by the carefully crafted sanitisation of the senses. 70% of Cambodia doesn't have access to safe drinking water. Appalling rates of HIV infection among the kids and very little access to health facilities and corruption!
Our conference was around the idea of 'change'. But of course advertising has it's limitations in a commerce and capitalism dominated world. So the issues were about changing out mind-sets, our way of thinking so that our clients could sell in the end more soap, more cola, more chips to the 'haves' of the world!!(Okay, I am being unfair to my occupation. It has its limitations at the end of the day!)
However, as I drove back to the airport, the image of an angry Dr. Beat stuck in my head and consciousness. He is the real change agent and a citizen brand. And am glad that my company has commited money and time for his cause.
One of the drifts that I had spoken about earlier this year was about Simplexity. The ability to hide the underlying complexity of a product, an experience, a nation behind the veneer/ facade / shell of simplicity...And I felt that Simplexity in my gut at Siam Reap!
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