*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 154 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

Article Index

 

 

Introduction

 

In October 2012 we travelled to Nepal and South India. We had been to North India a couple of years ago and wanted to see more of this fascinating country; that will be the most populous country in the World within the next two decades. 

In many ways India is like a federation of several countries; so different is one region from another. For my commentary on our trip to Northern India in 2009 Read here...

For that matter Nepal could well be part of India as it differs less from some regions of India than do some actual regions of India. 

These regional differences range from climate and ethnicity to economic wellbeing and religious practice. Although poverty, resulting from inadequate education and over-population is commonplace throughout the sub-continent, it is much worse in some regions than in others.

 

 

nepal010

 

The availability of electricity and electronic communications is also problematic for much of the population. 

In many places both in Nepal and India community infrastructure is very run-down; much of it dating back to the 1930’s and even earlier. 

We saw some buildings in India that have been in commercial use since the 1700’s. 

Even relatively recent electricity infrastructure is in poor shape. Many poles are leaning, wires drooping and transformers dreadfully rusty and often leaking oil, and possibly highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) widely used in transformers and switch gear until the 1970’s.

 

 

Trade 

 

A great deal of the history of India and the sub-continent has been dominated by trade; and competition for the control of the trade routes. 

India was well known to Europeans for hundreds of years before Christ. Trade routes between the Mediterranean and India have existed throughout that time. Alexander the Great (Macedonian/Greek) invaded northern India in 327 BCE. 

Within a hundred years southern India was trading extensively with the Parthian (Persian) Empire (from the mid-3rd century BCE). 

This trade had picked up significantly by the beginning of the common era (AD) under the Romans. As a result Roman coins and artefacts have been found at numerous locations in south India. 

Romans imported Indian lime, peach, and various other fruits for medicine and used herbs, spices, pepper, lyceum, sesame oil and sugar in their food. Indigo was imported as dye and cotton cloth was imported for clothing as were Indian pearls. Ebony was imported for furniture. Indian tigers, rhinoceros, elephants, and serpents were imported for the Roman Circus. 

In trade Rome exported olive oil, wine and gold and other metals like tin. 

During the Bronze Age from about 1500 BCE world trade was dominated by metallic tin. Tin is an essential metal in smelting the tin-copper alloy bronze. For example a ship wrecked off the coast of Turkey around 1300 BC carried over 300 copper bars weighing 10 tons, and approximately 40 tin bars weighing 1 ton. The Romans began to gain an effective monopoly over the trade in tin from about 100 BCE. 

Bronze was widely used in India for cooking and household vessels, weapons, and still is, for religious artefacts; statues – by the thousand.

 

nepal020

 

Obviously trade in copper is also required but this is more abundant and many more countries had domestic reserves of various copper ores, making it less susceptible to monopoly. 

It is not surprising then that cultural and religious similarities can be found between ancient Europe and India that precede the Islamic invasions of the common era. 

Most of these ancient cultures had polytheism in common but in addition there were small but established Jewish communities in India; possibly from as early as 587 BCE. 

With the growth of Islam in the 8th Century CE and its absorption of most of the earlier Christian Byzantine and Persian empires, Arab traders dominated the trade in spices both overland across modern Afghanistan and Pakistan to India and by sea down through the Red Sea and Persian Gulf to Arabian Sea and India then to Malaya and Indonesia; the Spice Islands. 

In 1498 the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India via the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). In his divvying up of the planet between Spain and Portugal the Pope (see my article on Spain) ceded India to Portugal; unbeknown to the Indians. 

Soon not only were there Portuguese trading posts in Southern India but Roman Catholic missionaries had begun saving the heathen souls that they found there; and to wage their on-going opposition to Islam. The last of these Portuguese footholds to disappear in India was Goa, one of the stops on our itinerary.

 

But before going to India we wanted to see Kathmandu in Nepal.

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

To Catch a Thief

(or the case of the missing bra)

 

 

 

It's the summer of 2010; the warm nights are heavy with the scent of star jasmine; sleeping bodies glisten with perspiration; draped, as modestly requires, under a thin white sheet.  A light breeze provides intermittent comfort as it wafts fitfully through the open front door. 

Yet we lie unperturbed.   To enter the premises a nocturnal visitor bent on larceny, or perhaps an opportunistic dalliance, must wend their way past our parked cars and evade a motion detecting flood-light on the veranda before confronting locked, barred doors securing the front and rear entrances to the house.

Yet things are going missing. Not watches or wallets; laptops or phones; but clothes:  "Did you put both my socks in the wash?"  "Where's my black and white striped shirt?" "I seem to be missing several pairs of underpants!"

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

In Defence of Secrecy

 

 

Julian Assange is in the news again. 

I have commented on his theories and his worries before.

I know no more than you do about his worries; except to say that in his shoes I would be worried too.  

But I take issue with his unqualified crusade to reveal the World’s secrets.  I disagree that secrets are always a bad thing.

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright