All posts filed under: Lao Diaspora

My Uncle, My Inspiration

We’re on a long road, navigating low hills and wet fields, when I finally hear my beloved uncle’s story. The end of the road is Luang Prabang for a business trip. With my life in Laos coming to a close and acceptance finally hitting me, my emotions decide to dance erratically between an Olympic sprint and some major marathon. Upheaval and migration does that, I guess. Three years of turbulence and injustice gush out of me, pouring out in a sloppy, slushy rant. My uncle continues to drive. He stays quiet for a time before turning to me and, with a steady look, begins to tell me about his humble beginnings. “Listen kid, you ain’t got it so bad and you’re going to realize that one day.” Those simple words coupled with that calm gaze of his settles my electric youth down, immediately. “I was born down south, the second son to a Jek (Chinese) mother and a Keo (Vietnamese) father. They were dirt poor immigrants who came here with nothing. My dad somehow got …

Lao Chess on the Rise!

When it comes to chess in Southeast Asia, most people think of that highly problematic Murray Head song, “One Night in Bangkok” from the 80s musical Chess, and chess queens might not excite you the way it would others. Last month, the Laos Chess Federation made a strong showing to change that perception, hosting the 1st Laos International Open from January 3rd to 7th in Vientiane. Chess is an Asian strategy game over 1,500 years old, depicting the conflict between two rival armies, with each piece capable of unique moves to capture the other’s pieces. The goal is to place your opponent’s king into a situation where it is impossible for him to move safely, known as checkmate, from an Arabic term, shah mat, meaning “the King is dead” or “the King is helpless.” Today, it’s a game popular around the world, including Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and the US. Well-known players of the 20th century include Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer. Although chess is widely believed to have begun in India, India’s first modern Grandmaster, Viswanathan …