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Category: Culture

Why Wikipedia’s Map Of India And Pakistan Is So Controversial

When I posted this video where I asked people in Pakistan if they could say one nice thing about India, the responses people gave were overwhelmingly positive. But this map when was shown only for a few seconds, outraged a lot of people, Indians in particular.

Where This Map Is From

The map below is from the Wikipedia page titled “Indo-Pakistani wars and conflicts“. You can see a clean cut border running down between Pakistan in green and India in orange. But this is a de-facto map of the border between India and Pakistan. De-facto meaning what exists in actuality, despite official or legal status as is the case in these other de-facto places. When you look at a Google Map of the region, you see a lot of dotted lines. In other words, things are not so clear cut on the ground as the solid line on Wikipedia would suggest.

india pakistan kashmir

If you’re already thinking whoa, these de facto geopolitical situations are touchy topics, well then, just wait until we get to the Kashmir region in the northern parts of the India Subcontinent.

jammu kashmir borders

Finding Kashmir

Kashmir is a region of 180,000 kilometers at the very north of the Indian subcontinent. It’s mostly mountains with the Himalaya and Karakorum ranges cutting through the region along with three rivers, the Chenab, Indus, and Jehlum. Kashmir is bordered by Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan.

Now, in practice when you hear people say “Kashmir” that refers to the Kashmir valley but also the territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, which are administered by India – and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, administered by Pakistan, and Aksai Chin and the Tran-Karakoram Tract, administered by China. Of this total land area, India controls about 55% (covering 70% of the total population), Pakistan 35% of the land area, and China about 20%.

1947 Split

1947 was a very important year historically for this part of the world. Up until this point for the previous 300-plus years the British colonized and ruled large parts of the India subcontinent. When Britain decided to hastily leave the Indian subcontinent, they broke it into two independent dominions – Muslim majority Pakistan and India. The guy Britain selected to draw up these borders was Cyril Radcliffe. He was not a political or regional expert, but rather a lawyer. He had also never been to the Indian subcontinent.

india pakistan border visit

Britain gave Radcliffe 5 weeks to draw up a border between India and Pakistan – again, a part of the world he had never been to and clearly did not understand.

Radcliffe cut through the Punjab and Bengal states and the effect of his drawing of lines on a map was a refugee crisis of somewhere between 10-20 million people. The violence that ensued as Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs migrated en masse to get to the “right” side of the border lead to an estimated 200,000 to 2 million deaths.

Drawing Controversy

Once the borders were drawn up, an independent Pakistan and independent India both claimed the state of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to 3 wars, the first being the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Since those wars there have been countless skirmishes and to this day, we have dotted lines on a map.

Except this map on Wikipedia, which is what lead to the controversy in my original video.

See, if you look at detailed maps of Kashmir, you see the dotted lines and that’s because India, Pakistan, and China all lay claims to the region, either partially or in it’s entirety. In practice though after all of the wars and over military build ups, parts of Kashmir are under Indian, Pakistani, and Chinese control.

The line of this map is controversial because the region is disputed. In some people’s eyes on both sides, all of Kashmir belongs to their country. Essentially, to a lot of Indians and a lot of Pakistanis, Kashmir historically and culturally belongs to their nation. In practice though Kashmir is a region divided by three nations, millions of people, and a lot of bad blood over nearly a century.

Interview With Geek Nation Tours Founder Teras Cassidy

geek nation tours

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2022.

For many, it’s New Zealand but for others it’s Mordor. The Shire. Or simply, the place where Lord of the Rings was filmed. In 2009 Teras Cassidy founded Geek Nation Tours to show people of all fandoms places like Japan, the UK, and California from a unique angle. Anime, war gaming, and Wasteland Weekend, Teras joined a special episode of the foXnoMad Podcast to talk about how he came up with Geek Nation Tours and some of the more interesting places they’ve visited.

You can listen to the full episode about and subscribe to the foXnoMad Podcast so you don’t miss the Season 4 premier in the fall!

The 4 Best Sci-Fi Shows You Should Give A Second Chance

the orville

This post is part of Geek Takeover Week 2022.

Almost a trope within the genre, good sci-fi often takes a season or two to fully get to warp. Unfortunately in the competitive streaming space, that can mean a good show gets canceled before enough people realize it’s great. These are some of the best sci-fi shows you might have heard of but dismissed prematurely.

1. The Orville

This show started off the first few episodes trying to find a balance between humor and sci-fi. The Orville (Hulu, Disney+) does hit its stride quickly though and after it moves to Hulu in Season 3, it becomes one of the best sci-fi series ever. The stories, the action, the drama, and comedic moments are beautifully interwoven into what is essentially 10 short movies. Brannon Braga and Andre Bormanis (writers from several Star Trek series), The Orville is the best new Trek out now. It’s also in question for a Season 4 renewal so don’t wait to see what you’re missing.

2. For All Mankind

Speaking of Star Trek alum, For All Mankind (Apple TV) is infused with writers like Ronald Moore to designers like the Okudas. And like The Orville, For All Mankind is ultimately an optimistic show but doesn’t sugarcoat progress one bit. The drama is intense, following the lives of characters over decades (Season 1 is the 1970s, Season 2, the 80s…). For All Mankind was mapped out to play out over 7 seasons and it will have you hooked.

3. Mr. Robot

A lot of people dropped off in Season 2 due to its perspective shift. But everything is not what it seems, especially on the hacking show Mr. Robot (Amazon Prime) and like For All Mankind, was mapped out for its 4 season run. Meaning the writers knew where the story was headed and it’s beautifully interwoven until the jaw-dropping finale.

4. Resident Alien

This show will make you laugh out loud several times an episode. Resident Alien (Hulu) is about an alien who gets trapped on Earth and wants to kill humanity because we suck and don’t take care of our planet. It’s not all laughs though, Resident Alien has heart, great characters, and a Trek connection too. (Tom Paris is an executive producer).

Not just sci-fi, these are great television shows that have a little of something for everyone but one universal element we can all get onboard with: characters with depth with excellent storytelling.

The Best Vegan And Vegetarian Restaurants In Antigua, Guatemala

caoba farms antigua guatemala

Antigua is the gateway to Guatemala for most tourists to the country and serves as a culinary introduction to one of the world’s most underrated cuisines. A mix of Mayan dishes with Spanish influences, Guatemalan plates are colorful blends of unexpected flavors. Meat is plentiful but so are vegan and vegetarian options.

These are the best restaurants in Antigua to find vegan and vegetarian food.

1. Coaba Farms

There are few restaurants where you can see and eat just meters away from where your food is grown. Coaba Farms is open a few days a week and serves breakfast through dinner. Plates of food with ingredients grown and produced on Coaba’s land, there’s something for everyone. Meat or vegan options, from the cheese to the milks, it’s your choice. No matter what meal you go with, make sure to walk around the farms, visit the shop, or stay for a yoga session.

2. Wachuma

A specifically vegan restaurant that doesn’t stray far from Guatemalan tipicas (typical) dishes. Cheeses are substituted for vegan alternatives, there’s a wide selection of deserts and everything is cooked to order at Wachuma.

3. Samsara

Although Samsara leans into Asian fusion it’s a good vegetarian restaurant that as an extensive menu. From shakes to soups, salads and Thai to Indian dishes, Samsara can add variety to your meals during your stay in Antigua.

4. Y Tu Pina Tabien

y tu pina tambien guatemala antigua

Not a specifically vegetarian restaurant, Y Tu Pina Tambien features a variety of veg and vegan dishes. Breakfast is their specialty to be sure to visit during the morning hours for their specialty omelettes, cheese avocados, and excellent coffee.

5. Fat Cat Coffee House

fat cat coffee antigua guatemala

In addition to their exceptional coffee (in a town where the competition is fierce) Fat Cat Coffee House has a variety of vegan snacks and health food options. Go for their massive fruit oatmeal with oat milk and enjoy a strong cup of their best java.

6. Cafe Cafe

cafe cafe antigua guatemala

Food fresh to order and a kitchen that serves up dishes that are a fusion of Guatemalan and international cuisines. There’s options for meat eaters and vegans but both offerings at Cafe Cafe are sourced from local ingredients.

Kitchens For Everyone

Antigua has a unique culinary landscape not only because if its location in the heart of Guatemala but like many of its indigenous ingredients, they’re blended, mixed, and made into an endless variety of deliciousness. Particularly for non-meat eaters who might be thinking a good, local meal will be hard to find in a region that indeed loves meats, Antigua will be pleasantly surprising for anyone who likes to eat.

How To Pronounce Kyiv And Why It’s Not Spelled Kiev

Ukraine has been on the news a lot recently due to the war with Russia and you may have heard its capital, Kyiv and other cities, being pronounced multiple ways. Due to all of that variation from “keev” to “keyee” from journalists, it can be confusing to know how to properly say these places. To help answer those questions as well as the history behind the names of Ukrainian cities and spellings, Irena Chalupa recently joined me on an episode of the foXnoMad Podcast. Irena is a journalist specializing in broadcast from northeastern Poland who spent 23 years working for Radio Free Europe in Germany, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic as the director of the Ukrainian Service. She has also worked for the Atlantic Council think tank and was a Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine during 2016-2017. She is currently an editor at StopFake.

You can watch a clip from our discussion in the video above or listen to the full podcast here.

Travel Bans Don’t Work And Won’t Stop Omicron

anchorage airport

Just when we thought the Covid-19 pandemic might be waning a new variant with an intimidating name has closed borders, invited panic, and amplified our collective frustrations regarding this virus. Omicron is a new pandemic, like the old one but condensed in time and reaction. We have over two years of experience with Covid but the world is making the same old mistakes with Omicron.

Let’s start with travel bans. They don’t work because they are too little too late at best and lowkey racist at worst.

South Africa Punished

Omicron was first identified in South Africa. Last than a week later, the United States, Europe, and 70 other nations had banned travel from South Africa and 7 neighboring countries. Historically, the countries that visit South Africa the most are the U.S., UK, Germany, Netherlands, and France. Using this faulty travel ban logic, shouldn’t travelers from those countries be barred as well? How about their neighbors? What about Europe?

You see the problem. Travel bans chase the virus well after it’s spread far and wide. Omicron was, it turns out, in the Netherlands at least a week before South Africa identified it.

Travel Bans Effect

Travel bans, when implemented early into a pandemic, can slow the spread of a virus and give countries a chance to prepare. What the preparation looks like varies in pandemic stages but we have a vaccine. We’ve had a vaccines. Travel bans can slow the virus to give people a chance to vaccinate ahead of it. Travel bans don’t stop the virus. And they don’t fix the underlying problem that unless people vaccinate, mask, and continue to social distance then the virus keeps spreading and staying ahead of us.

“We need a balanced and proportional response. That means no travel bans, but testing and quarantine for people coming from countries where omicron is circulating,” says Raghib Ali, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge.

Every time a virus, any virus, infects a host it has a chance to mutate. Think of it like a giant game of telephone. (Remember that from grade school?) Imagine the virus is a recipe and our bodies are all cooks. Each time a cook gets a recipe, they might make the dish a little different. A hamburger becomes a panini. A panini becomes a pizza. A pizza becomes lasagna. Eventually, the vaccine designed for hamburgers doesn’t recognize what a lasagna is. We’re playing catch up against nature and that’s always a losing proposal for humanity.

Hurting On Many Levels

Countries like South Africa who’ve identified variants might be much more reluctant to do so if there’s the threat of a travel ban. The effect on the local tourism industry – reeling already globally – has serious implications, especially for poorer nations. Tourism is the crusty glue barely keeping the world together. Crime and poverty increase without it in places that rely on travel.

Blocking travel also means aide workers and scientific supplies to the places that need it most. The UK has banned travel from 11 countries – all African – being called by travel apartheid by Nigeria.

Olufemi Awokoya told the BBC he was trying to raise money for his wife’s quarantine, as she is due to return from a trip to attend her mother’s memorial service. “She is being punished and our household is put in financial hardship. She is an NHS worker and tripled-jabbed, and we can’t afford the £2,280 ($3,024) hotel bill,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a global problem with a global solution. But the more we keep dividing ourselves into nations of isolation, vaccinated and un-vaccinated, the virus will keep conquering us, a divided species.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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