Mi Bodeguita del Medio

While my blog is named after a restaurant in Havana I hope to someday visit, here you will find musings, rants, political incorrectness, thoughts on Indian Nationalism, strong straight-forward opinions and tid-bits.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The "Great" in Britain

I just returned from a lovely weekend in the mountain-country of Andorra, a large ski-resort in reality, tucked away between the Pyrenees in Northern Spain.

On the way back, for logistical reasons, we stopped in a town on the Costa Brava for half an hour. This town, like many towns on the North-Eastern Catalan coast (Costa Brava) is a popular summer destination for many English, Dutch and other Northern European tourists for its offering of sun, sand and nightlife. However, in the month of March, when outside daytime temperature is still in the early teens (today about 15º), we saw a bunch of men walking on the sidewalk, wearing half-sleeved shirts and shorts. C and I, watched them for a few seconds, and then at once, instinctively said "pobres" or poor people.

I thought about it on the drive back. Just two hours away, we were in snow-covered mountains in 0º to 5º weather. Two - three hours South and you see these men in summer clothes trying to immitate warmth and coastal calmness. Truth be told. They probably come from a poor neighbourhood (possibly live in Govt funded housing) in one of the working towns of England. They probably cannot afford the exhorbitant summer hotel and airfares in Spain. They probably were using up some of their summer vacation to make an early, off-season visit out to good old Sunny Spain, and whether or not it is sunny here doesn't really matter. Mentally these guys are in their summer, or atleast in the sunniest region of Europe. If they don't make the most of it, or they fail to tell themselves that they are enjoying a sunny country (even though they may be in one of the most obnoxious, touristy towns on the Girona coastline on a deathly chilly morning) while what they really are doing is wander about a ghost-town (business and many restaurants are closed half the year) telling themselves how awesome it all is...

We really pitied them then and talked about their mental state. While any warm-blooded human feels cold in 15º weather, these guys were braving the cold winds in their shorts and t-shirts, just to go back to their dingy little island thinking they had a great time in a warm country. How pathetic and sad.

So, while Britain has called itself "Great" over the centuries - while it looted, plundered and massacred half the world, and funded its own industrial revolution at the expense of other sovereign nations - India’s share of world GDP went from roughly 25% in the mid 1700's to 2% in a century, and Britain’s went from 1% to 18% — see Angus Maddison’s The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective; India, the richest country in the world for a millennium and a half (per Maddison’s data from 0 CE to 1500 CE), was systematically plundered (of some $10 trillion in today’s money) and reduced to penury - its days, it is now quite clear, have ended.

Britain today is reduced its bunch of little grey cold islands; the former "Empire" is now plagued with high unemployment, a crashed housing market, low employee morale, falling currency (the GBP currently equal to the Euro), an "immigration" problem - due to the dozens of countries it conveniently left below subsistence levels, topped with an unparalleled economic recession and has recently even lost its freedom of speech - as it goes to its benefactors, the Saudis with a begging bowl.

Its only potential saviour is the "brand image" it has managed to create globally, but frankly, it is not even worth my tourism buck anymore - as there is so much more my Euro buys me (from Greece and Cyprus to Montenegro, Malta and more), than a visit to the over-rated Big Ben.

1 comment: