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Travels with Pavel: 23 February 2005

I haven’t spent 20 days at a stretch at home in a long time – I have done that in Cambodia. My last full day in Cambodia was spent finishing King Arthur’s Legend and reading a very interesting series of essays on taxation by Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers, a book I’d picked up from a second-hand bookshop in Sihanoukville. Pretty heavy stuff for a tourist to be carrying around.

Lunch was a long-drawn out affair as I quizzed Sreenivas-ji on a number of matters and fell to talking later with a Kashmiri who called himself Jim and whose home is on the Pakistani side  of Kashmir. He was last in Kashmir in 1998 and presently holds a British passport. Seven years is a long time away from home, especially when home is Kashmir. Jim is in the IT field and works in Holland while his family lives in Britain. Circumstances might differ but he’s another of the dispossessed who haven’t the freedom to return home when they like. Jim still talks about “probably be[ing] arrested” even if he ventured into the Indian side of Kashmir with a UK passport.

Among other conversations I had over lunch was one about the differences between butter, cheese, paneer and the like and how each was produced. The Swedish guy at the table didn’t seem to know it nor the Irishman who’s been teaching English in Busan in South Korea for the last two years. And the EU spends the largest amount of its subsidies supporting the Common Agricultural Policy. And driving a lot of farmers in Africa out of business in the process – surely the average European ought to know more. Both Swede and Irishman were agreed, however, that the Greeks probably knew best about the secrets of making cheese. And so we come back to the “southern peoples” again.

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