Unheralded

CHRIS ALLEN: Dubai Journal — Dune-Bashing

There is a certain, unequaled thrill sitting in the front seat of a four-wheel drive SUV, its engine roaring like a locomotive as it churns its way up a 15-foot sand dune and slides diagonally down the other side, only to bounce across a valley, take aim again and repeat the scream-inducing ride all over again. This is dune-bashing in …


Unheralded

CHRIS ALLEN: Mumbai Journal — Asia’s Largest Slum

A staggering 55 percent of Mumbai’s population (12.4 million people in 2011) lives in its dozens of slums, nearly 7 million people. The largest of these is Dharavi. More than a million people live in an area half the size of New York’s Central Park, about 0.8 square miles. Let that sink in for a moment. A million people, less …


CHRIS ALLEN: Afghanistan Journal — Another Group Of Journalists Killed; Another Note Of Condolences

In January 2016. I sent off an email to an acquaintance of mine, Saad Mohseni, one of three brothers who own Tolo-TV in Kabul, Afghanistan. Tolo is the most-watched television station in the country. It creates its own information and entertainment programs and has a vast dubbing operation to give Dari soundtracks to Western programs. It also has a large …

CHRIS ALLEN: London Journal — Unmissed Opportunities …

I almost missed one of the coolest things ever because of my unwillingness to ask a question. Last Saturday, I had a free day. I ate a leisurely breakfast, showered, changed and considered what to do with the day. I had no plans at all. I toyed with the idea of seeing a play in the evening, visiting some of …

CHRIS ALLEN: London Journal — When A Bomb Explodes

I’ve been to Kabul, Afghanistan, four times in my life. The first three times a suicide bomber blew up something and took innocent lives somewhere in the city. The first time, in 2010, it happened on a road I had been on just two days earlier. But in none of those cases was the bombing anywhere near where I was. …

CHRIS ALLEN: London Journal — I Was THIS Close!

Brasenose College, one of the 35 colleges that make up Oxford University, has produced a few distinguished alumni — and probably more dubious ones. Among the more impressive are an archbishop of Canterbury, a prime minister of the United Kingdom and one of Australia, the alleged inventor of rugby, a couple of minor playwrights, some poets, a World War II …

CHRIS ALLEN: London Journal — Always An Adventure

I’m back in London after a two-year absence. This is my 15th time here, each time with a group of students. I have eight with me this time, the fewest since my first year in 2000. It’s expensive, and although the cost of coming here for two weeks for the class is quite reasonable, it’s still expensive for students. I …

CHRIS ALLEN: Photo Gallery — Inside India

Chris Allen took in some sights while in New Delhi, India, to attend USAID-supported workshops for Afghan professors from Kabul University and Balkh University in communication studies and Kabul Polytechnic University in hydro-engineering. Among the places he visited were the India Gate, a war memorial located astride the Rajpath, on the eastern edge of the “ceremonial axis” of New Delhi; Connaught …

CHRIS ALLEN: Indian Journal — A Blanket Hangs Over New Delhi

New Delhi is in trouble. It is desperately trying to reduce pollution, and some of the steps it’s taking are admirable. But they don’t seem to be making a difference. One can see the pollution hanging in the air. Worse, though, one can taste it. It’s grit on the tongue. It’s a scratch in the throat. It’s a tickle-cough. It’s …

CHRIS ALLEN: Dubai Journal — What Is Dubai?

What is Dubai? Dubai is planted firmly in the Middle East. It is the most famous of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a founding member of the once-powerful cartel OPEC, which controlled oil prices for nearly 40 years. It is now weakened by in-fighting and by a defiant Saudi Arabia, which is …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — Leaving Never Gets Easier

(This was written the evening of Aug. 6.) Leaving Oman is hard. It was hard four years ago. It was hard last year. It’s hard tonight. My seven students feel the same way. They’ve said it. I can see it on their faces, too. Yes, I’m sure they’re eager to get home. But I also know they have come to …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — The Physics Of Sweat

Last week was pleasant here in Muscat, the capital city of Oman. The temperature was in the high 80s to low 90s, and the heat index was barely above 100. Maybe 105, but not much more than that. In July, that’s heaven in Muscat. When I talk about the heat in Muscat, people say it’s a dry heat, though, right? …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — Morning On Jebel Shams

We left for the mountain about 20 minutes late. Last-minute dashes for extra bottles of water put us behind schedule. We were headed for Jebel Shams, Mountain of the Sun, in Oman’s interior, next to the desert. We piled into two SUVs at 6:20 a.m. and started the heart-stopping climb up a winding dirt road, to the trailhead in a …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — The Way Things Work Out

When Elaine and I left Oman just over four years ago after 9½ months teaching at Sultan Qaboos University, we cried. We left with 10 bags of clothes and souvenirs, accumulated from friends, students and our own purchases, and struggled to get the new checked, paid for and off our hands. We walked through the process of turning in our residence …

CHRIS ALLEN: Afghanistan Journal — Between Two Extremes

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Afghanistan with three University of Nebraska at Omaha colleagues and a colleague from UNO’s office there. This was a needs assessment mission as we begin work with two universities in Afghanistan. We made a decision as a group not to blog or say anything on social media while we were there because …

CHRIS ALLEN: Afghanistan Journal — The Mountain

There is a mountain in the middle of Kabul. Forty or 50 years ago, when Kabul was a small town of 250,000, it wasn’t a problem. Now that Kabul has grown to about 4 million, it’s a pain in the city’s neck. Kabul is surrounded by mountains. It sits in a bowl. There are limited areas for growth, and they’re just about …

CHRIS ALLEN: Afghanistan Journal — ‘You’re Going To Afghanistan? Will You be Safe?’

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Afghanistan with three University of Nebraska at Omaha colleagues and a colleague from UNO’s office there. This was a needs assessment mission as we begin work with Kabul University and Balkh University in Afghanistan. We made a decision as a group not to blog or say anything on social media while we were …

CHRIS ALLEN: Afghanistan Journal — A Primer On Afghan Food

I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Afghanistan with three University of Nebraska at Omaha colleagues and a colleague from UNO’s office there. This was a needs assessment mission as we begin work with two universities in Afghanistan. We made a decision as a group not to blog or say anything on social media while we were there because …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — A Summer Night

Thursday is the end of the workweek in the Arab world. Friday is the Sabbath. The sidewalks on Souk Street (Market Street) in Al Khoud are almost empty this Thursday night. Usually on Thursday night, the plastic tables and chairs outside the restaurants and coffee shops that line Souk Street are filled with men gathering to eat and talk. Moms, …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — Two People Who Matter

The great British writer and poet Rudyard Kippling wrote a book in 1901 titled “Kim.” In it, Kim, the young orphan of Irish parents, who has grown up among Indian playmates in old Lehore, is called “Friend of All the World” by an old Muslim horse trader who uses Kim to run errands. The modern-day Friend of All the World …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — A Tradition Of Hospitality

Elaine and I left Oman on June 20, 2012, after living there 9½ months. We had come to the country with five suitcases. We were leaving with nine. Everything was packed, we had wedged each last item into the bulging bags and were sitting in the flat until it was time to go to the airport. One of my students …

ABOUT US: Welcome aboard, Chris Allen

Chris Allen’s journal dispatches from the Middle East country of Oman are an unusual and very welcome addition to Unheralded.fish. Allen is a professor of journalism at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he has taught since August 1996. In addition to his teaching duties, he is the general manager of UNO Television and a board member and past-president …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — From Near Death To New Life

I almost killed my class Thursday. Not in the way a teacher may say that after a difficult day. I really almost killed them. Understand that I really like students. I rely on a steady and abundant supply of them for my living, and I do truly like students. Have I mentioned how hot is here in Oman? I mean, …

CHRIS ALLEN: Oman Journal — Back In Oman

I feel at home. I’m 6,000 miles or more from my house, the town I live in, the university where I teach, and yet I feel at home. I’m in Oman, a country my wife, Elaine, and I came to love when we were here in 2011-2012 while I taught at Sultan Qaboos University on a Fulbright Award. I loved …