Monday, July 12, 2010

Go home, or make a home, or rest

So while my travels are technically over, I realize that I never said anything about London.
I think that a stint in an English-speaking country was a good cultural readjustment for me. London is very large, and very busy, but fairly clean and as I had mentioned before, the most user-friendly city I've ever encountered. Katie and I had a good anti-colonialism rant in the British Museum while viewing the Parthenon Friezes (which rightly belong in Greece). The British Museum as an entity poses an interesting moral quandary since it's collection consists largely of the spoils of decades of English Imperialism, especially in Egypt and Iraq. While I can't in good conscience support what amounts to high-minded piracy, I concede that the Museum has one of the most impressive and coherent collections in the world and it's location in the heart of one of the world's leading cities makes it hard to match as an educational resource. Should Greece, Egypt, and the rest simply forget about it all and leave things be for the greater good or should they assert their rights and say "those pieces tell the particular story of a particular people and they belong rightly in their ancestral homes." The British Museum has a fantastic collection of British artifacts telling the story of the British people from the Celtic and Roman periods through the Middle Ages to the present day. Shouldn't that be enough? What quanta of cultural superiority gives the British Museum the right to keep the Parthenon Friezes against the explicit desires of the Greek government and people? Are Katie and I just nationalistic and biased (considering that we're both extremely proud of our Greek heritage), or do I have a valid point here?
Of course, there are other hallmarks of imperialism adorning the British capital, such as the amazing curries and samosas that Katie and I stuffed our faces with in one of London's Bangla neighborhoods. In a country infamous for its bland food, it makes a certain twisted sense that a recent poll named chicken tikka masala (with a pint of lager) as the favorite dish of the UK. While chicken tikka is good, it's no more traditional Indian than the oft-mispronounced General Tso's chicken is traditional Chinese. Both are products of post-Imperial systems where traditional recipes are tinkered with to meet the tastes of a nation with limited pride in its own cuisine.
My battery's dying and my yia-yia is nagging me to set up her mobile phone. College Park is about 35 C and about 98% humidity. Yeah, I'm home.

1 comment:

  1. No you're not. Clearly your brain is still in Europe or you would know that it is currently 95 F where you are, not 35 C.

    Daft scientists with your daft metric system...