Categories
Thailand

smiles and resignation

สวัสดี from Bangkok, A former student of mine, from a privileged background, once opined in a Business Management class that workers smile because they enjoy their job, and that they therefore were satisfied with their lot. It was an arresting statement for someone from an egalitarian bent like me. There was an easy answer. They …Read More

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United Arab Emirates

swings and misses

Marhaba from Dubai, The more we go without and the less we complain, the more likely we are to succeed. The four million Indians living and working in Dubai are here to capitalise on the commercial chances on offer here. They’re not living in poverty but their cricket is conducted on the barest of assets. …Read More

Categories
United Arab Emirates

socks and undies

Marhaba from Dubai, A hilarious telephone call from the chap at reception, where I’d left a bag of clothes for laundry that morning: Was I aware that some of the socks and undies had holes in them? Should they proceed to launder them? After a moment: “yes, go ahead”, I chortled. Perhaps I’m unusual in …Read More

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Ethiopia

Reg and Catherine

Selam from Addis Ababa, A visit to the Fistula Hospital was the main reason I travelled all the way to Addis Ababa. When I arrived in the taxi, the cautious guards politely advised that there was no entry without a prior appointment. “Hmmm, I’ve come a long way,” I said, worried that the journey had …Read More

Categories
Ethiopia

waste and want

ጤና ይስጥልኝ from Ethiopia, The devastating famine in Ethiopia in 1984 is etched in the memories of people who witnessed it from afar as well as those who were close. In Ethiopia itself, the need to drought-proof the country has become a national programme. The results – always likely to be a work in progress …Read More

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Iceland

a blessing and a curse

Halló from Iceland It’s comforting to know that the puffins on Iceland are safe from encroachment of human development. Their saviour is the fact that they want land (steep cliff faces) that humans don’t. The increases in tourists to Iceland in recent decades have placed immense – and growing – pressure on most resources in …Read More

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Romania

triumph or tragedy?

Buna Ziua from Transylvania in Romania, It’s a bit hard to know in which column the Transfăgărăşan road belongs: a total waste of resources or a stupendous tourist attraction? There’s compelling evidence for both. Just as in a court of law, one case considered in isolation to the other may lead to erroneous conclusions. During …Read More

Categories
Romania

questions and answers

Buna ziua from Bucharest, Romania, I’ve always argued – possibly as a minority of one – that retail assistants are entitled to a bad day once in a while. They’re allowed, so my thinking goes, to a bad mood as long as they don’t wittingly project their gripes onto their customers. What’s more human than …Read More

Categories
Malta

beautiful and functional

Merhba from Valletta, Malta, The George Cross is the highest British honour recognising bravery in war. It is usually conferred on individuals. The only nation ever to be awarded the Geroge Cross is Malta. In April 1942, King George bestowed the unusual honour on Malta “to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will …Read More

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Portugal

the rough and the smooth

Olá from Lisbon, Portugal, At what point does a city give up on the fight against graffiti? It must be a drain on precious state resources when the graffiti keeps coming back. In Lisbon, the city has succumbed and there is a huge amount of it. Perhaps they argue that it’s urban art. We’ve always …Read More