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The best art is free: A look inside a few mosques I recently visited

posted by Naysawn Naderi | filed under The Best Art is Free |

I have been on the road for the past 2 months, traveling through Lebanon, Israel and Turkey, while working on bringing ArtSumo online. It's been quite an amazing experience getting to know the Muslim world a little better. While I half expected a welcome of "Death to America," I've found just the opposite - incredibly hospitable and welcoming people, eager to show you their culture. Further, I have found the places I was most nervous about visiting to be the most welcoming. Although I almost called off my visit to Lebanon after seeing footage of a "day of rage," I found the streets of Beirut to be super safe and the Lebanese to be the most hospitable. Across the board, I found that the Lebanese love to ask you where you're from, then give big smiles and repeat "welcome, welcome."

In addition to the hospitable people, one perk of visiting the muslim world has been getting to explore the numerous mosques on display everywhere. While some might call Istanbul the land of "one thousand staircases," its more common title, "the land of 1 thousand minarets," as a credit to the mosques on display throughout town, is probably more fitting.

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The best art is free: A look at the art of the Taj Mahal

posted by Naysawn Naderi | filed under The Best Art is Free |

About a year ago, while I was still working for Microsoft, I had the opportunity to go to India. It happened a little something like this: I was sitting in my office when my supervisor walked in and asked, "Naysawn - we really need somebody to head to India to speak with a few developers and get them up to speed on how we do development on our team. We know this would imply taking you away from your family and your work for a couple of weeks, so if you can't go, we completely understand."

While he was saying this, bells and whistles were going off in my head. My version of what I heard sounded a little different: "Would you like an all-expense paid trip to one of the most culturally diverse areas of the world where hospitality is molded into the culture? By the way, Indian food is absolutely delicious and comes in all different flavors." Since I love me some delicious Indian food, needless to say, I was on a plane a few weeks later bound for a three week trip to India (two for work, one for running amuck).

While at Microsoft, I was fortunate to receive extensive lessons from other foreign workers who successfully go on business trips and tack on some time for tourism afterwards. Microsoft pays the lion's share of the trip (the airfare) and you get to see another side of the world. Not wanting to let my teachers down, while I was burying my head in work at the Microsoft office in Hyderabad, I also made arrangements to meet up with my buddy Abhay in Delhi afterwards for week long vacation.

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About us

Hello. I'm Naysawn, founder of Art Sumo. Art Sumo makes it easier to learn about other cultures and get art in far to reach places. These are some of our thoughts on the art world.