New Normal: The big blind date event, ‘N’, is returning to Phnom Penh with this fresh theme

Dipika Kohli · ‘N’: NORMALITY

‘N’ is an experience, a conversation, an art show, and a fun meetup. It gathers people who super opt-in to participate in a once-off event. This takes place in a city that has an ‘N’ in it, and, together, we show up to meet all the other people who said ‘yes’ to a ‘big blind date’ to talk about something that starts with ‘N.’

Here is a piece of the essay that was co-created at ‘N’ in Phnom Penh in 2015…


Normal for who? To be honest, I’ve never met a person who feels normal. Abnormal is normal. Dehumanizing in any culture is not normal. I don’t want a normal job or relationship. Describe life as vibrant, sticky, juicy, challenging, fluffy… my ideas about normality are negative. Is that my “normal” thinking pattern?


That was the year of the very first installation ‘N’. I asked guests to submit 50 words or an image ahead of time, and then, I put them together into an essay to hand out.

This was one of my favorite parts of ‘N’ events: as people could piece together what they were reading, they could see that their own piece was part of it, one part of the whole. Like ‘N’ itself: a group of 16 people who opt-in, to be there.

So much fun.



In 2015, it was ‘Normality,’ in 2023, ‘N’s theme is ‘New Normal’


The theme for that very first-ever ‘N’ was NORMALITY. What’s normal?

The group of 16 people who joined this conversation were those who had the same set of traits as those who would join future ones in other cities, too.

They came with an open mind and genuine curiosity. Based purely on the invitation and the idea of really trying to ‘push back on the culture of maybe,’ perhaps, or just sheer interest in something very different from the usual ‘event,’ they showed up.

In those days, my non-smartphone-carrying, non-social-media-participating self had this idea to create an event in which you could show up or not show up and there was no ‘maybe’ about it. You had to commit with a ticket, then you got to choose a date with the other people who did the same. You didn’t know who else was going, so it was a ‘blind date,’ except, there weren’t any profile pictures anywhere so it wasn’t a popularity contest at all. This isn’t about the people who feel ‘too busy’ or ‘too tired,’ it’s about those who want to know more. I like that.

All of the guests who’ve joined ‘N’ so far, I feel, have one thing in common. They were ready to discover something new. Read about 16N


Tickets for 16N in Bangkok



But what is ‘N?’ An experience. Serendipity and chance are still the main events

Discovering: that was the point of ‘N’. It still is. The next ‘N’ will be in Phnom Penh, since there are two ‘N’s in Phnom Penh and the idea of ‘N’ was to host a conversation in a city that has an ‘N’ in it at a venue that starts with an ‘N’ and on a topic that starts with… well you see where this is going.






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