Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ah Paris!
August 28, 2008

I was fortunate enough to get upgraded to business class for the second leg of my flight, so I arrived in Paris in style (and comfort!) Then when I arrived at my hotel, I discovered that it was located in the red light district, in between the "Sexodrome" and a very interesting lingerie store... Quel dommage. Well, the hotel is near Sacre Coeur and L'Opera and the neighborhood just south of sex shop row is quite charmant...

I had forgotten how much I love the city by the Seine. In the mornings before my meetings I would walk around the city. (Due to jet lag I was usually up several hours before anything opened.) My meeting in the afternoon have gone extremely well. It now looks like I will be partnering with this hospitality group to create about eight resorts around the world.

My next challenge is securing the financing...

I am off to Germany tomorrow then on to Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia...

Here are a few photos of Paris:

La Tour Eiffel
Bien sur! What trip to Paris is complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower?

Les Rues Charmant
I love the old buildings and the beautiful flower boxes.

Door Detail
There are these amazine wrought iron doors all around Paris. I thought that this one was particularly striking...

Le Jardin de Luxembourg
My favorite garden in Paris in the Latin Quarter.

More Pretty Flowers
Again in Le Jardin de Luxembourg

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Puchkas and Paris
August 20, 2008

I leave for Paris tomorrow for a set of meetings with a possible hospitality partner. After that I am off to Eastern Europe...

To prepare for being away from Bangladesh for two months, I paid my bills, ate two servings of puchkas (my favorite Bangladeshi food), and took a drive around my neighborhood on my beloved scooter.

Paris here I come!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Photos in Jessore
August 15, 2008

I went back to Jessore to take some photos of me for a magazine article that I am going to be in in the new Success for Women magazine. (Success for Women is a sister publication of Success Magazine.) Unfortunately the local photographer that I hired was not very good, but with Koli's help and a lot of Photoshopping I did manage to get a couple of nice shots.

Me with Goat
I love the baby goats! They are so cute! You can also see the jute in the background.

Me in a Rice Field
Koli actually took this photo of me in the rice field.

Me in the Same Rice Field
Here is the uncropped version of the picture.

Me in a Bamboo Forest
I love the bamboo forest areas. There are many of them around Jessore and I hope to have one at Panigram Resort.

Me with Village Children
This photo was taken with a bunch of children from one of the small local villages. The villagers are so warm and friendly; they always invite me to come have tea with them when I stop by.

Me with Cows
Photo of me in a rice field with a man plowing in the background.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Expanding Universe
August 1, 2008

While I was in California I met up with my mentor in Orange County. It was a bit of an earth-shattering meeting for me as he told me that I wasn't thinking big enough. He said that it would be easier for me to raise $50 million for a real estate fund than to raise $2 million for my one resort in Bangladesh. He also told me that I needed to find a hospitality partner who would bring to the table the experience that I lack.

My universe increased by a factor of about ten that day, but now that I have had a little time for it to sink in, I think he is right and I have decided to take his advice and am now creating a socially responsible emerging and frontier market hospitality fund. Now that I am on this route, I am actually amazed that I didn't think about it before since I do have a background in fund management (I managed $7 billion of private real estate equity at my old company).

I am now going to look for land in Eastern Europe and Africa as well as in other locations in Southern Asia. I have identified a potential hospitality partner who shares my vision and will be meeting with him in Paris at the end of August. From there I will go to Germany where I will meet up with a friend whose family works in tourism in Croatia. We will drive together through Slovenia and into Croatia where she will introduce me to her family and I will scout out potential resort development sites.

From there we will part ways and I will continue on alone to look at property in Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. I will be meeting up with architects and friends along the way who will hopefully be able to provide me with some advice on where to develop. It should be an exciting trip! Stay posted for more news and photos from Europe!

Back from the U.S.
July 26, 2008

I just got back from my month long trip to the U.S. I met up with friends in New York City, my sister in Orlando, my father, aunts, uncles, and grandmother in Iowa City, and my mother in San Francisco. I was expecting to have a lot more culture shock upon returning to New York. Instead, however, I was shocked by how unshocked I was! When I arrived in New York I felt as if I had never left. Like I had been away on a two week vacation instead of a two year journey.

I did have a bit of a culture shock moment in London on the way over, however. I arrived in the airport and everything was so neat and clean and there were high end stores like Gucci and Prada everywhere. Then I saw people pouring beer from a tap and drinking wine right out in the open! Women were showing their arms, legs, and (gasp!) cleavage! Totally shocking.

My prudish mentality continued to the airport in New York where I saw a woman and her boyfriend while I was waiting for the train. The woman was wearing a shirt dress (which was very tiny). She looked quite naked to me and I kept mentally trying to put pants on the poor girl. Who stole her pants? Doesn't she feel very uncomfortable looking this way in public? Then she started making out with her boyfriend on the platform right in front of everyone. Since public displays of affection are strictly verboten in Bangladesh, this was also quite a shock! I started to chuckle to myself as the reality of being back in the U.S. sunk in.

Not much has changed in New York except that there are several new buildings and you can pay for your cabs by credit card now. (Which is good since the cab fares have doubled since I have been away!)

It was also great to see my family. All in all it was a lovely vacation...