Karan Talwar, a blogger and Freakonomics reader, writes about an interesting traffic nudge near Shimla, India. The roads into Shimla are notoriously dangerous, and traffic signs have done little to lessen the problem. So local authorities began constructing temple shrines at hot spots. The nudge worked like a charm: “Turns out even though the average Indian has no respect for traffic laws and signs, they will slow down before any place of worship and take a moment to ask for blessings!”
Most Indian men, at least those I see about town on the street, dress in what I call the “dude uniform”: a light-colored button-down long-sleeve shirt, slacks, and black sandals. As far as uniforms go, it’s pretty functional, working equally well for home and office, and requiring little in maintenance.
Younger guys, however, replace the sensible slacks with over-the-top denim: emulating their favorite Bollywood stars, they buy jeans that are dyed, streaked, distressed, and bedecked with clasps, latches, snaps, and pockets. Most of the time the pants are flared, giving them a bit of a disco feel.
On top, they wear a variety of shirts that make European clubwear appear dignified. Most are made of synthetic materials; gold lamé and neon orange are popular at the moment. Solid one-inch-wide black and orange vertical stripes were big in Fall 2008, but 2009 seems to favor a trompe l’oeil sweater-vest-over-T-shirt garment, usually in pastels. As far as I can tell, it’s the guys scraping by who wear the flashiest clothes. Too far down the socio-economic ladder and your duds turn to rags. Too far up and they become the dude uniform. Somewhere in between, though, is ‘70s gold.
20. Best place to buy: Olive oil
Turkish embassy electrical supplies, London
The most unlikely olive oil vendor in the world? At his electrical supply shop in London’s Clerkenwell, Mehmet Murat sells wonderful, intensely fruity oil from his family’s olive groves in Cyprus and south-west Turkey. Now he imports more than a 1,000 litres per year. His lemon-flavoured oil is good enough to drink on its own.
76 Compton Street, London EC1, 020 7251 4721,www.planet mem.com
26. Best place to eat: Filipino cuisine
Lighthouse Restaurant, Cebu, Philippines
“The Lighthouse in Cebu in the Philippines is my favourite restaurant. We always eat bulalo (beef stew), banana heart salad, adobo (marinaded meat), baked oysters, pancit noodles, lechon de leche (suckling pig) and, to drink, green mango juice – my daughter is addicted to it! The staff are so friendly and welcoming. The chef has been there for more than 20 years, so the food is very consistent.”
Gaisano Country Mall, Banilad, Cebu city, Philippines, 0063 32 231 2478
The idea of a city of books evokes a fantastical vision: towers of tottering volumes, narrow alleys formed by canyons and stacks of dusty hardbacks, formal avenues between loaded shelves. Like something imagined by Calvino or Borges, it conjures up a city of wisdom and surprise, of endless narratives, meaning, knowledge and languages. What it does not evoke is an industrial estate bounded by a motorway and the heavily guarded edge of a demilitarised zone. Yet somehow, South Korea’s Paju Book City begins to reconcile these two extremes into one of the most unexpected and remarkable architectural endeavours.
Built on marshland, former flood plains and paddyfields 30km north-west of Seoul, Paju Book City is an attempt to create an ambitious new town based exclusively around publishing….
At the centre of the city stands a huge cultural complex, designed by Kim Byung-yoon, a combination of hotel (in which, it was pointed out to me, there are no TVs), restaurants, auditoriums and, on the roof, an urbane, elevated realm of seating, shops, libraries and galleries overlooking the sparkling waters of the river and the Simhak Mountain.
Uyghur music embraces several distinct regional styles, product of the geography and complex history of the region, whose oasis kingdoms, separated by mountains and deserts, have been subject through the course of history to rule by many different outside forces. The musical traditions of the southern oasis towns of Khotan and Kashgar are more closely allied to the classical Central Asian traditions of Bukhara and Samarkand, while the music of the easternmost oasis town of Qumul has closer links to the music of Northwest China. Each of the region’s oasis towns have to this day maintained their own distinctive sound and repertoire, but they are linked by a common language and overarching culture, maintained by constant communication through trade and movement of peoples. Musically there is much to link these local traditions, in terms of instruments, genres, styles and contexts. The most prestigious and well-known genre of Uyghur music are the large-scale suites of sung, instrumental and dance music known as muqam. In addition to the muqam the Uyghurs maintain popular traditions of sung epic tales (dastan) and other forms of narrative song (qoshaq, leper, eytshish and maddhi name), suites of dance music (senem,) instrumental music, musical genres linked to the rituals of the Sufis, and a large repertoire of folk songs which commonly dwell on the suffering of life on earth and the torments of frustrated love. . . .
Zhang, the former journalist who brought the students to the square, has taken a different path. Once, he preached for democracy; now he preaches for Jesus. Formerly No. 17 on Beijing’s most-wanted list, Zhang today is a pastor at a Chinese church in Fairfax, Va.
After the clampdown, Zhang spent two years in hiding, much of it in a remote mountain cabin near the frozen Russian border, where he lived off wildlife that he caught. He also spent a month in a Russian prison. It was at that time that he found God.
“I read the Bible and began to know God,” Zhang remembers. “I gained sustenance from it. People really needed God then. They needed a future. I couldn’t see the future with my bare eyes.”
Zhang finally escaped China through Hong Kong and sought asylum in the United States. These days, he throws himself into ministering his flock. He is planning to build a 16,000-square-foot church for his congregation, which currently numbers about 300.
There is no end to the desire for wealth. Recently, I asked an entrepreneur, whose net worth is in the nine figures, if he thought greed or pride was a greater problem. He said greed has no end and that he knows people who are unhappy with their private Gulfstream jet because they have friends whose jets are slightly better. . . .
I once visited a microfinance loan group in Manila. These people were poor. We were in a one-room house. It was raining and water was pouring down the wall and flowing across the floor. At the end of the meeting, they took up an offering for “the poor in their community.” The total was $2.80. They made a vat of porridge, took it to the center of the slum and within minutes children were emerging to eat. Several were obviously malnourished.
We are in a global economic crisis because of this: The rich see the very rich and want to live like them. The poor see the very poor and want to help them.