Sunday, December 10, 2006

The positive legacy of empire ?

It is a little thing, but when you are 6,000 miles away from home and the electric plugs are the same, it all feels a little less alien !

I am in Hong Kong for the first time and it is hardly alien at all. In fact in some districts it is familiar to the point of nearly being dull. Plump blonde english girls wearing "bunny ears" leave their Christmas parties along with their Hong Kong Chinese friends as "Gingle Bells" plays past the Pizza Express restaurant Christmas tree. All this in a territory officially part of the People's Republic of China for 9 years.

Here in this vibrant outpost on the edge of China, the British Empire, whatever its many other faults, has left a legacy that is positive. Depsite now being under the control of communist China, this territory excudes a cheery and (reasonably) free spirit. There are a few examples of the British idiosyncrocity like driving on the left, pelican crossings, double decker buses and of course the plugs. For the rest the people seem hard working but happy.

Within walking distance of my hotel there is a mosque, a synagogue and a Catholic cathedral. A sikh manager was minding his 7-11 store as I walked past. It is strange to be so far away and see sights so familar.

I really feel that Empire did have its benefits (as well as its many documented problems). The legacy in this city is a metropolis of sky scrapers with churches, a mosque and a synaogue nestling beneath them and a multinational community more worried about making money than political ideology.

Back with further thoughts from a lost corner of Empire shortly..........

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