Thursday, February 26, 2009
Personal Branding is building your online persona to achieve the goals you've set for yourself. Think of yourself as a product. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? You know yourself better than anything else and are an expert on who you are and what you can contribute to society. More and more employers are googling potential employees before making their final decision. Google yourself and see what shows up. Set up a google alert with your name so every time a new page with your name is cached, you are notified.
Figuring out how to present yourself online is first, about spending a little time deciding on what you want to receive from your online activity. For some people, it's a way to express themselves creatively, for others it's a way to establish themselves as an expert in their field and furthering their career. Once you figure out what you want to accomplish, everything else becomes much more clear.
Picking the Right Social Media
Once your goals are established, the selection of the correct social media is critical. If, say, your goal is finding an accounting job in Canada, perhaps Orkut is not the first place to put your profile. Examine niche networks to find like minded individuals, for example, if you're looking for design work, adding your profile to networks devoted purely to designers, would be a better choice. Adding your portfolio to sites like flickr or picasa are also a good choice. If you're a poet or a screenwriter, there are networks just for you.
Blogs are always appropriate and an easy way to establish your place on the internet. If you are looking for work, HEED THESE WORDS. Take your blog seriously. every time you hit "Publish", be sure that what you've written could be presented in a job interview. Perfect spelling and perfect grammar will always count.
Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin may also be appropriate based on what your goals are.
Marketing Yourself & Your Online Presence
Once you have a few posts online, get yourself to technorati, mybloglog, blogcatalog and stumbleupon and register your blog. Get yourself a google analytics code and install it on your blog. Become familiar with other bloggers in your area of expertise. If you are designer, find other bloggers who write about design. Comment on their blogs and follow them. Engage with like-minded individuals. Not only will you learn more about your area of interest, but you will be connecting with others. Let people know what your goals are. If you are looking for work, let the right people know... No one will know if you don't tell them. Just be careful who you share that information with - you may not want your current employer to know that you are actively job hunting for that accounting position in Canada.
Make sure your signatures on email, forums, and all other areas where you post online links to your online presence. Mine is:
Blog - American in Delhi: http://american-in-delhi.blogspot.com
Blog - American in Calcutta: http://american-in-calcutta.blogspot.com/
Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/profile.php?id=725880395&ref=name
Linkedin Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jheydecker
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeanneleez
As you achieve your goals, your reasons for having an online presence will change. After finding that job, you may want to adjust what your blog discusses, or maybe morph your profiles into another area of interest. As a human being, what you want to share at 20 will be distinctly different than what you share at 30 or 40. As your career changes, it may end up being more about the management issues instead of the actual development of software - it may change completely to what you do after you sell your company and become a VC or a consultant. You can always close a blog and start another, but bottom line, it's still out there in the ether and someone, somewhere has that content. It never goes away.
My good buddy Scott Jones, a computer forensics expert, told me one day, "Never put anything online that you couldn't say in a court of law in front of your mother." I firmly believe that. (Plus my mum suffers from potty mouth, too.)
What Not to Do - Why is This Blog Different From My Previous Blog About Kolkata?
The Kolkata blog was not the real me. Because I was the "face" of 123greetings and it was read by many of the people at work, I couldn't be the real me and the real me is tougher, more confrontational, sarcastic, funny and much more of a challenge to your own sense of intelligence. I think that's why Yu Yu and I get along the way we do. :-) She's the only person here who isn't intimidated by me in one way or the other...
This blog is more personal. I'm not branding myself or using it for any other purpose than to document certain aspects of my life. I'm not just an internet marketer. I have other passions and I want to write about them my way. I am fast approaching the half century mark of my life and need to figure out what is it that I want to do with the remainder of my life and I'm not sure what that is. With this health crisis, I have to make some significant lifestyle changes. I have a career to be proud of and maybe this blog is a way for me to just vent. It's not politically correct and at this stage in my life, time is too short for being polite.
Share your tips on how you have established your presence and what's worked for you. It would be great to share. :-)
Saturday, February 14, 2009
It had just finished snowing and Foxborough has the quintessential oval common just like Lexington and Arlington. It was faced with three or four churches and a beautiful bandstand. The hush after a big snow makes any town magical and my parents felt it would be the perfect place to raise kids. (By now, we were at least two, probably three.) When my dad got his stamp as a registered architect, he joined Korslund, LeNormand & Quann, and we moved to Foxborough. This was the mid 60's.
The Sixties were a turbulent time in America and the civil rights movement was finally hitting Boston big time. In 1965, the Racial Imbalance Act was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, but the Boston School Committee stayed in denial until the National NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) filed suit and Judge Garrity ruled that the BSC was guilty. Force busing ensued across Boston pushing poor black kids into poor white schools, and vice versa. There were riots, sit-ins, picketing, marching... all in the name of "preserving their way of life". A mass exodus of whites moved out of the city and into the surrounding suburbs. These whites preferred other whites and wanted to maintain their tight-knit communities from South Boston, Chelsea, East Boston and they were determined to do so. Developers saw this as an opportunity and built huge development tracts of house after house built on the same plan to feed the housing demand. Foxborough grew during this time frame.
One of my mother's friends, Mrs. Booth and family were Black and still lived in Cambridge. Mrs. Booth brought my mother back to God and she had joined St. Mark's Episcopal Church and took her kids with her occasionally. The Booths used to come down and visit us and stay for the weekend sometime. They decided that Foxborough would be a nice place to raise their kids, too. Soon, the rector's home at St. Mark's went up for sale at a very affordable price. My mum was very excited about it because it was in the range that the Booths could afford. She called the real estate broker and arranged for Mr. and Mrs. Booth to see the property the next day.
The broker showed up with a big smile for my mother. As soon as the Booth's got out of their car, she took one look and stopped smiling. She looked at my mother as if she'd been tricked. The broker took them through the house quickly and left. When my mother called the broker, the price had doubled. My mum was ashamed and embarrassed and stopped going to church.
All the Jews lived in Sharon, the next town over. We had a number of churches, mostly Protestant, and one Catholic. There was one black family in town, and they pre-dated nearly all of the families. There were no minorities of any kind, even washing dishes in the kitchens. Those were the jobs teenagers had back then. (Now they wouldn't touch those jobs.)
Most weekends, my parents would pack us up in the station wagon and drive down to "the city" (NYC). It was about 4 hours each way. While in New York, we were surrounded by people of different colors, sizes, mobilities, sexual preferences, etc. They weren't considered any different from us. We went to museums, theatre, spent time with the grandparents, and knew there was a huge world out there. Every Sunday evening, we'd pack back up and return to Foxborough.
Monday mornings would mean going back to our all-white school and watch people getting picked on for being different (usually me). I didn't look different from anyone else, but it was evident from an early age that I certainly thought differently and that was enough. I felt like an outsider, and I was treated that way. Even in my neighborhood, there were three girls around my age, and we had nothing in common. All three lived in those houses described above. Same plan, different color. One was a hyper-Catholic whose views were exactly opposite mine. Another only cared about clothes and popularity. The third was originally from Tennessee or West Virgina and barely out of the trailer park. Her mother was one of the most uneducated, backward and racist women I'd ever met (other than the hypocritical Catholic family mentioned above). I felt I was wasting my time and always looked forward to going to New York and spending time with my grandfather that showed me all these worlds.
It was weird spending culturally diverse weekends in NYC then going back to all white Foxboro. Galleries in the Village, poetry readings in Brooklyn, working with my artist grandfather in his studio, then back to whitebread suburba-hell where no one was allowed to think differently and everyone had to love the cheerleaders... People were judged by their outward appearance, nothing about the substance within.
Does this give you an idea of the surreal world I lived in? Bitter? No. I think it's sad that the majority of Americans consider this a good place to live and a positive place to raise children. I have to give my parents major props for setting out loose and exposing us to all sorts of things beyond Foxborough.
When my son and I moved west of Chicago, I had a choice in renting an aparment close to Neuqua Valley High School where all the rich white kids went or Waubonsie Valley High School which ran the gamut of colour, economic level, etc. The schools were exactly the same, similar test scores, similar talented teachers. Which one do you think I chose for my son? :-) It wasn't the choice most parents made and the high school boundary disputes are still ongoing in the district. That's sad.
Friday, February 13, 2009
[22:42:24] *linker* Hi Mam, Good morning
[22:43:37] *linker* actually jayanta ask me talk to mam..
[22:56:01] *linker* I have send you reports in your gmail account ..
[23:04:44] *Jeanne* For links to *realestatesite*?
[23:04:59] *linker* yes mam..
[23:05:21] *Jeanne* is there a problem with your list?
[23:05:56] *linker* what problem ..
[23:06:52] *Jeanne* I'm asking what did Jayanta want you to talk to me about?
[23:07:18] *linker* ok Mam..
[23:12:03] *linker* Actually mam I want you I Fokas only Real estate site ..
[23:12:19] *linker* Not *gamblingsite*
[23:14:50] *linker* because when page is cached them then i willl started reciprocal exchange ..
[23:15:39] *Jeanne* huh? I have no idea what you are talking about.
[23:17:02] *linker* so mam please ask to janyta ,no any question for *gamblingsite* ..
[23:17:17] *linker* withe me..
[23:17:44] *Jeanne* You need to finish monitoring the *gamblingsite* links you already started.
[23:18:19] *linker* because amoad is also doing directory submission..
[23:18:35] *Jeanne* That should be a 30 - 40 minute task a day, then spend the rest of your time on *realestatesite*
[23:19:12] *linker* I foaks only only Real estate site .when then i search them manually *gamblingsite*..
[23:19:59] *Jeanne* yes. But you must finish up the links you already started with *gamblingsite* or you don't get credit for them.
[23:20:49] *** *linker* is Offline
And this guy is actually our best directory linker. Imagine the issues I have with other staff! :-)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I liked her December post, so I'm updating this for my own...
Copy the list and highlight the ones that are true about you.
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a Praying Mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon <-- what are you kidding?
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in movie
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Read a book all through the night
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Talked your way out of a ticket <-- spent the night in jail instead, just because I argued with him. Troopers have no sense of humour.
Later. Please share your own.
Let me know if you see anything odd (please mention your browser!) and I'll be quick to rectify.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Indian kid turned beet red and yelled, "Yeah, whip them out right now, I'll do you right here, right now!"
Will gave him the big fish eye, paused, turned, and walked away shaking his head.
It's similar to Indian rap. There's just something so very wrong with the dudes trying to look gangsta. It just doesn't work. Although, I have to say, "Singh is King" is sorta catchy, but have you listened to the words? I've heard 7 year-olds on the playground back in Chicago with more gansta 'tude. Kinda sad, really.
We need more cow bell.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Social media marketing is a science AND an art. The science is very similar to all the rest of the marketing mix - check the demographics, craft the message and make the call to action. The art comes in when figuring out what to do within the social media construct... are we talking a Facebook application? A Facebook Fan Page? A Twitter? A Youtube channel? All of these sites are called social media, but they may not be where your audience is, it may not be the appropriate construct for your message, you may not be able to craft the kind of message the particular site requires to make it go viral. Everyone also seems to forget that it adds a minimum of one additional click-through where distractions can certainly occur, especially on social media sites.
Cultural issues are another side of this that no one is paying attention to. I would never in a million years go after work in the U.K. assuming I personally know enough to make the social media campaign for a culture not my own, even if we do share a "similar" language. What works in American social media could bomb in the U.K. What works in the U.K. probably won't work here. The good news is that there are two reasons, regardless of culture, that people click through and engage (another social media buzzword): curiosity and controversy. Most clients refuse to do controversy, but the risk is well worth the effort. Marketing companies can come up with the ideas that match the human emotions that the client wants to produce within their target audience.
No one ever mentions testing their social media plans, although all other web-based functionality is typically tested. Have you shown the idea to your target group? Do they ask if they can show it to a friend? Are they excited about it? Do they want more? Are you enabling them enough options to send it on through multiple channels?
How do you establish the parameters for success? Before you hire a company to handle your marketing mix that includes social media be sure they can provide measurement for success. Social media is a small part of your overall marketing today and shouldn't be considered the panacea it's made out to be, especially here in India. At least not yet.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Okay, sorry but I have to call this one out. I could have titled this post "how not to work with the press". Or "just how stupid do you want your company to look"? Or "how to produce a negative traffic flow through your PR campaign". I just discovered this tonight.
A certain company I know has clearly not understood the basic tenets of PR that I tried to instill in them while there. And quoting the guy who used to write the newsletter [QUITE BADLY] before Editor Bob got an upgrade was a really bad decision. Let's dissect the section concerning the old company, just for giggles (You can click on the link above to read it in context.).
"The phenomenon reaches its fullest expression online, where e-card sites lure visitors with a smorgasbord of holidays. The most popular site, 123Greetings.com, recognizes 3,000 card-sending situations thanks to a Kolkata, India-based staff that studies American customs and trends by watching Oprah and The Daily Show on YouTube. CEO Arvind Kajaria, a former investment banker, says his team needs just half an hour to create a card commemorating a news event like the stock market meltdown (sample: "In this hour of financial crisis, you'll be in my thoughts and prayers!").
It also produces cards for some 1,500 annual events, including Remote Control Day (June 29) and Squirrel Awareness Week, which Kajaria swears are preexisting holidays: "Most are approved by the U.S. president!" But Aravind Rajendran, the company's 27-year-old senior visualizer, admits to coining a few, including Pickle Appreciation Day ("I like things spicy!") and Tell a Lie Day ("It's a habit-why not make it an event?")."
Error #1 - Only Mr. Rajendran goes to Oprah and John Stewart on YouTube to learn about American culture. That's arrogant. I find this comment offensive, as if you could actually understand my culture simply by looking at uploads from those two on YouTube. WTF.
Error #2 - Financial Meltdown comment is hokey and doesn't sound sincere, just gratuitous. Americans hate having their feelings used as a way to make money, and that's how that comment comes off.
Error #3 - The U.S. President approves most holidays? I don't think so. There are about 10 or so federal holidays. If I remember my civics from High School, back when dinosaurs walked the earth, it was Congress that ratified federal holidays... I may be wrong.
Error #4 - Admitting you lie is not a good thing at all in the U.S., unless you are a scandalized celebutante or celebutante wannabe desperately in need of more press. It not a positive character trait in any way and enabling this jerk to quote himself like that makes the company look unethical. In fact, the whole line about making up his own holidays is pretty unethical. Does not reflect well for the organization.
Error #5 - I have a hard time believing the 30 minute card development. Two words - 2008 Election.
Error #6 - What's with all the exclamation points? Are we in a hurry?
The site's Home page features a PageRank of 7. That's good. 80% of the traffic is American. That's excellent. The only problem is that while SmartMoney is good web site, it's not the best targeted for an article like this to convert traffic to visitors. The site skews almost totally male and men typically don't send cards - they pick them up. Also, there are no actual links in the article, so there is no way to link any traffic back to the site.
On the Subject of e-cards:
What's everyone doing for Valentine's Day? I'm doing nothing. My significant O will be in Kolkata then, so I'll just be home with my broke a$$ self. Not that I'm really happy about the way things are going down in Kolkata lately. The behavior of some people there has been eye-opening and not in a good way. I have to tell you if some guy sent me a Valentine's day ecard and nothing else, I'd dump him so fast, he'd have skid marks on his knees.
Not that I'm a big fan of holidays, birthdays, and especially Christmas (We don't celebrate ANY of those things in my house). Most people think it's because I'm mean, cold or just cheap, but it's not the case. In fact, I think you should celebrate the people you love every day. Back in the States, when I used to own more than two plates, I always used my best china and didn't bother having more than one set of fabulous silverware. The people I see every day should be the ones who I'm saving the best for, not for Aunty Liz who hates me anyway, so why should I try to impress her?
Whenever I had a little extra cash on me, I'd hit the Toys'R'Us or EB Games or Zumies for skateboard stuff or something else for Will. I'd hit Petsmart to get Greenies for the Greyhound. The cat wasn't much for treats, but he did have a little penchant for the 'nip. Will and I used to go out for dinner at least once a week, if not more. If I was at the mall and I saw something that I thought a friend at work would like, I'd just pick it up. Unfortunately, it's not simple here. First, shopping here is even more of a nightmare than at home because I have no transportation to get anywhere. And no money. And no friends here, well, that's not true - there's a couple of people from Kolkata, but I pretty much killed the expat thing by screwing up the fees on an event, so I don't think they'll be talking to me again...
Anyway, it's Saturday morning, another weekend is here. I'm hoping to spend time with Will working through a few "issues" and hopefully fix some of the things that have broken. He's fifteen and he's much less rebellious than I was (crap - I took off to India for a year without my family when I was 15). At least I'm here, well, sometimes... but not when I'm working the night shift and that's a serious problem. What do you do when you work in a foreign country which requires your visa to identify your sole employer? If you leave that employer, your visa is void. I was caught by the balls by my last employer who refused to do the paperwork on time forcing me to move to Gurgaon before it expired. And now, I'm caught up in a different situation. I have to work - no one else is going to feed my family. I have to work here, because my visa is attached to the company, therefore, night shift is mine for the upcoming future. And people wonder why I drink. :-)
And don't comment about now I know how NRI's feel. wah, wah, wah. I'm sick of comments like that, and I'm going to stop publishing them. This is MY personal experience in India, and if you get off thinking I'm miserable, then by all means, whack away. I can bitch and moan all I want, because this is my blog and my experience and I'm not going to defend any of it to anyone. These are my opinions. But I'm here for the long haul and I'm determined to make this work and it may not be Kolkata, it may not be Gurgaon, but I will find my place here. Six more months, I think, and things will be settled. I'm pretty sure of it.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
BarCamp is an international network of "unconferences" that focus on early-stage web applications. prototypes, open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats. The format of BarCamp is a series of sessions that are presented by the attendees themselves.
This coming Monday, February 9, 2009. BarCamp Delhi will be posting the sessions. Yu Yu Din will be presenting on "Content Strategy for Social Media". I will be presenting a session on how to establish and manage your own personal brand online. It will enable particpants to take advantage of the potential of the internet to achieve their goals, whether it's publishing a simple blog devoted to their cat, finding a good job, or establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
BarCamp costs nothing except your time and there is plenty of time to mingle with a variety of people who are all connected to the interent in many ways.
28th Feb to 1st Mar ‘09
Management Development Institute
Gurgaon - 122 007
+ 91 124 2349831-36, 4013050-59
Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Anyway, that's not the reason for the post! Swarnab has recently moved to Gurgaon himself, and has read a couple of posts here, and he suggested a few places to go to in Delhi for book hunting (I've been here at least twice as long and I still can't find my way to the office each day - go figure).
He sent me a note today on Facebook that he found an ONLINE LIBRARY that will deliver books right to your home here (Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, Gurgaon & "Other")! They have Steinbeck! OMG!!!!! "Confederacy of the Dunces"! Now, you won't find Salinger, Vonnegut or the correct Burroughs, but Ken Kesey's there... Still No David Foster Wallace, but at least I'm more hopeful. :-)
Here's the link:
The starter package is 750 rupees deposit and 150 rupees for two books a month. There are higher plans for more voracious readers. Select the books, add to your bookshelf and they're dropped off at your doorstep within two days. When you finish the book, just head to the web site, click ready for pickup and they come get them. Wow. That's nice. Can you possibly get that kind of service anywhere?
I heard there was a DVD service like that and I checked it out. It totally sucked. Nothing but crap, and censored crap, too. The censors completely butchered "Knocked Up". It doesn't make any sense with out the sex and drug scenes. (Will's a huge Judd Apatow fan. We won't even bother to see "Pineapple Express" unless we can borrow someone's bootleg version...) Come on, "Sound of Music"? The only people I know who watch that in the States are a group of gay men in Chicago. Yes, David, I mean you.
Oh, while I'm on the idea of great service, another thing Gurgaon has is MegaCabs (Tel.: 0111-41414141) and other radio service cab companies. They use a computerized service based on your phone number so after you've called them once, they have your address and all they need is pickup time and location to take you. And here's the kicker. They SMS your mobile phone confirming your details with the name of your driver and his mobile number. OMG. If he's late, or you want him to stop on the way to pick up cigarettes(we did), they are happy to oblige. Now that I could see this as being very, very useful for limo pickup services back in the States, especially at the airport, and quite a differentiator for competitive locations like New York, Chicago, LA, Atlanta, all the hubs...
Back to Swarnab - big thanks on this, dude. As usual, you totally rock!
Man, I want to be that good. As a kid, after school, watching cartoons with my two brothers, they'd be watching Tom and Jerry fight it out, while I colored, then poke each other and wrestle during the commercials. I, on the other hand, stopped coloring and watched the commercials. I vividly remember Slinky, and Hula Hoops and cereal commercials. I wanted to do that. I didn't realize what that was at the time, but I didn't want the toy or the cereal, I wanted to make people pay attention and want something. I thought it was magic.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I do have to say that both the Delhi Embassy and the Kolkata Consulate were extraordinarily conscientious in caring for my son and my welfare during a incident that happened last year (still can't discuss - still ongoing). They went beyond protocol to ensure the safekeeping of my son in Delhi while I was being transferred to Kolkata and stayed in contact with my during the entire ordeal - they refused to allow the Indian authorities to take away my mobile phone except during certain circumstances. They met me at the station and stayed with me, though discreetly during the entire situation and stayed in contact with me during the entire week I was forced to stay in Kolkata. I really did not expect that at all. That's my tax dollars in action. :-)
United States Embassy
New Delhi, India
February 3, 2009
This Worldwide Caution updates information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests throughout the world. In some countries, the worldwide recession has contributed to political and economic instability and social unrest. The armed conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza, which began in December 2008, raised tensions and sparked demonstrations throughout the world. U.S. citizens and others were killed in recent terrorist attacks in India and Pakistan. American citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 16, 2008 to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.
The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Americans are reminded that demonstrations and rioting can occur with little or no warning. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings. The September 2006 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Syria and the March 2006 bombing near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan illustrate the continuing desire of extremists to strike American targets.
Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and locales where Americans gather in large numbers, including during holidays. Terrorists attacked two hotels, a railway station, restaurant, hospital, and other locations in Mumbai, India, frequented by Westerners on November 26, 2008. Over 100 persons are believed to have been killed, including six Americans, and hundreds were injured. On September 20, terrorist bombed the Islamabad Marriott Hotel killing two U.S. Department of Defense employees and one Department of State contractor, whose remains are still unaccounted for. One private American sustained minor injuries. A July 9, 2008, terrorist attack on Turkish police guarding the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey, killed three police officers and wounded other police personnel. On March 15, 2008, a bomb at an Italian restaurant in Islamabad, Pakistan, killed two and injured twelve, including five Americans. Also on March 15, two bombs exploded at the CS Pattani Hotel in southern Thailand, killing two and injuring thirteen.
Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. Bombs exploded near city buses in Tripoli, Lebanon, on August 13 and September 29, 2008, killing twenty-one people. Other examples include multiple anti-personnel mine detonations on passenger buses in June 2008 in Sri Lanka, multiple terrorist attacks on trains in India in 2006, the July 2005 London Underground bombings, and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid.
Extremists also may select aviation and maritime services as possible targets, such as the August 2006 plot against aircraft in London, or the December 2006 bomb at Madrid's Barajas International Airport. In June 2007, a vehicle was driven into the main terminal at Glasgow International Airport and burst into flames, but the bomb failed to detonate.
The Middle East and North Africa
Credible information indicates terrorist groups seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage taking, kidnappings, and assassinations. While conventional weapons such as explosive devices are a more immediate threat in many areas, use of non-conventional weapons, including chemical or biological agents, must be considered a possible threat. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Increased security at official U.S. facilities has led terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets such as public transportation, residential areas, and public areas where people congregate, including restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas.
On September 17, 2008, armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, killing several Yemeni personnel, one embassy security guard, and a few individuals waiting to gain entry to the embassy. On March 18, 2008, a mortar attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen injured several Yemeni citizens in the vicinity. On January 15, 2008, a roadside explosion in Beirut, Lebanon killed three Lebanese and injured an American citizen. On December 11, 2007, two vehicle-borne explosive devices were detonated at the UN headquarters in Algiers and the Algerian Constitutional Council. Three suicide bomb attacks in July and September of 2007 in Algeria killed more than 80 people. In July 2007, suspected al-Qaida operatives carried out a vehicle-borne explosive device attack on tourists at the Bilquis Temple in Yemen, killing eight Spanish tourists and their two Yemeni drivers. There were a series of bombings in Morocco in March and April 2007, two of which occurred simultaneously outside the U.S. Consulate General and the private American Language Center in Casablanca. Additionally, an attack took place on the American International School in Gaza in April 2007. These events underscore the intent of terrorist entities to target facilities perceived to cater to Westerners.
Potential targets are not limited to those companies or establishments with overt U.S. ties. For instance, terrorists may target movie theaters, liquor stores, bars, casinos, or any similar type of establishment, regardless of whether they are owned and operated by host country nationals. Due to varying degrees of security at all such locations, Americans should be particularly vigilant when visiting these establishments.
The violence in Iraq and conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has the potential to produce demonstrations and unrest throughout the region. The armed conflict between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza, which began in December 2008, raised tensions and sparked demonstrations throughout the world. The Department of State continues to warn of the possibility for violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests in the region. Anti-American violence could include possible terrorist actions against aviation, ground transportation, and maritime interests, specifically in the Middle East, including the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa.
The Department is concerned that extremists may be planning to carry out attacks against Westerners and oil workers on the Arabian Peninsula. Armed attacks targeting foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia that resulted in many deaths and injuries, including U.S. citizens, appear to have been preceded by extensive surveillance. Tourist destinations in Egypt frequented by Westerners were attacked in April 2006 resulting in many deaths and injuries, including Americans. Extremists may be surveilling Westerners, particularly at hotels, housing areas, and rental car facilities. Potential targets may include U.S. contractors, particularly those related to military interests. Financial or economic venues of value also could be considered as possible targets; the failed attack on the Abqaiq oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia in late February 2006 and the September 2006 attack on oil facilities in Yemen are examples.
A number of al-Qaida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around East Africa. As a result of the conflict in Somalia, some of these individuals may seek to relocate elsewhere in the region. Americans considering travel to the region and those already there should review their plans carefully, remain vigilant with regard to their personal security, and exercise caution. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, or targeting maritime vessels. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Increased security at official U.S. facilities has led terrorists to seek softer targets such as hotels, beach resorts, prominent public places, and landmarks. In particular, terrorists and likeminded extremists may target international aid workers, civil aviation, and seaports in various locations throughout East Africa, including Somalia. Americans in remote areas or border regions where military or police authority is limited or non-existent could also become targets.
Americans considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there has been a notable increase in armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom at sea by pirates in recent months. Merchant vessels continue to be hijacked in Somali territorial waters, while others have been hijacked as far as 300 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters.
The U.S. Government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu, and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys, and maintain good communications contact at all times. Americans traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents. Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration's suggested piracy countermeasures for vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden.
South and Central Asia
The U.S. Government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South and Central Asia may be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. Government facilities, American citizens, or American interests. The presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. Government's list of foreign terror organizations, poses a potential danger to American citizens in the region. Continuing tensions in the Middle East may also increase the threat of anti-Western or anti-American violence in the region.
Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to attack targets where Americans or Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Their actions may include, but are not limited to, vehicle-born explosives, improvised explosive devices, assassinations, carjackings, rocket attacks, assaults or kidnappings. In November 2008, coordinated terrorist attacks on luxury hotels, a Jewish community center, a restaurant, train station, hospital, and other facilities frequented by foreigners in Mumbai, India killed more than 170, including six Americans. On November 12, 2008, an American government contractor and his driver in Peshawar, Pakistan were shot and killed in their car. In September 2008, more than fifty people, including three Americans, were killed and hundreds were injured when a suicide bomber set off a truck filled with explosives outside a major international hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan. In August 2008, gunmen stopped and shot at the vehicle of an American diplomat in Peshawar. In August, three female western non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, along with their male Afghan driver, were gunned down as they traveled south
of Kabul, Afghanistan. On June 2, 2008, a large bomb exploded in front of the Danish Embassy in Islamabad killing at least six people and wounding nearly 20. In May 2008, a series of coordinated bombings occurred in market and temple areas of the tourist city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. In Afghanistan, kidnappings and terrorist attacks on international organizations, international aid workers, and foreign interests continue. In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and other groups have conducted suicide bombings at political rallies, government buildings, and major economic targets, and in recent months have increasingly targeted public transportation. Although there is no indication that American citizens were targeted in these attacks, and none were injured, there is a heightened risk of American citizens being victims of violence by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Previous terrorist attacks conducted in Central Asia have involved improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers and have targeted public areas, such as markets, local government facilities, and, in 2004, the U.S. and Israeli Embassies in Uzbekistan. In addition, hostage-takings and skirmishes have occurred near the Uzbek-Tajik-Kyrgyz border areas.
Before You Go
U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site at
U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Americans abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays.)
Monday, February 2, 2009
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Sunday, February 1, 2009
My first landlord still owes me 90,000 rupees which I will never see. And she's trying to extort another 3.5 lakhs out of me. This current landlord says he'll give me a check the day after I vacate minus damages. Yeah, I've heard that before. What sort of safeguards are there for renters here in India? What steps can I take to ensure I get my 1 lakh rupees back? I need this money in order to move. Right now, I have 5 pst-dated checks (Feb-May) that I am supposed to hand over to Raj today. I'm asking the security guard to get a copy of his ID, but he's not going to be responsible for the deposit in any way since the contract is with the landlord.
Is there a way to set up an escrow account where I put the money for my rent for the last four months on order to ensure I get my deposit back? Anybody know the law on this one? I seriously cannot afford to get screwed by another landlord. I want cash back. No checks.
I know it's not just foreigners that get stuck in this, I know. It's anyone without support here...