Hacked By By XwoLfTn

Hacked By XwoLfTn

Long life for Tunisia 
long life to Palestine

./Exit

 

On Good Conversation, Diaspora, and Jobs

In this morning’s NY Times there is a cute little article entitled “Talking the Yanks Under the Table” which is about how much cleverer the British are perceived to be than we Americans when it comes to conversation. At least, that’s how us Americans tend to see it.

I for one, dutifully admit that conversation over dinner with a bunch of Brits or French is usually more fun than with Americans (happily, there are notable exceptions) because the conversation will almost certainly be more daring, the range of admissible ideas much broader, and hey, the food will be better than meat loaf or pizza with ‘everything on it’. The French have the art de vivre down pat while the Brits I know living in the south of France are usually foodies, so sitting down à table will usually be a treat.

But back to the NYT article. One American living in London who was interviewed says

People are more relaxed here and they’re not thinking, ‘I’ve got to get home because I’ve got to get up to work.’ It’s looser here; there isn’t that grind.

This quote was fascinating to me in light of an article I came across just yesterday on the BBC website that analyzes the current state of the British diaspora. (For conversationally-challenged Americans, a diaspora is the migratory spread of a people out from their homeland into what we Americans affectionately call the Rest of World). It is always astonishing to discover how many Brits feel that Life is probably better on the other end of an Easyjet flight.

Many British expats are interviewed by the BBC, and when asked why they left Britain, the responses are breathtaking:

I don’t miss the rushed pace of life and I definitely don’t miss the British government.

or

I lived in London for 12 years and spoke to my neighbours three times. Fed up with the stress of my job, long days and expensive cost of living, I left the UK to see the world.

A first conclusion is that dumbed-down Americans can reasonably look to Great Britain’s dinner parties for the intellectual stimulation that is missing from American life. And that alienated Brits can reasonably look to anywhere to the south to flee alienation, dysfunctional healthcare, and long periods of bad weather.

II.
In the BBC article, we learn that 2 million Brits are living permanently in Australia, 700,000 live in Spain, but only 200,000 have settled down in France.

(This last factoid is surprising. Here in southern France, it often seems that every third person is British. What can it be like in Spain? Is every third person Spanish?)

Just after reading the BBC article, I happened to speak with a knowledgeable English friend living down here and learned yet another astonishing fact: apparently, there are more Frenchpersonnes living in Britain than there are Brits in France!

However, it is a sad reality that explains this fact. The French who go to England do so because they can’t find work in France. They are generally young, dynamic, and definitely not part of the 75% of French youth recently polled by Le Monde whose priority is finding a job for life in the civil service with a solid pension at 60. The French in Britain are generally involved in the finance and IT sectors, parts of the modern economy that are not joyously recognized in France. They are part of what is called the fuite de cerveaux (‘Brain Drain’) that is a common subject of conversation at french dinner parties.

The Brits in France on the other hand, are generally pensioners, coming down here to live the good Life. Few attempt to become part of French economic activity, because the difficulties of doing so are starting to be well-known. I suppose that those wanting to continue working account for the larger expat populations of Spain or Australia, places where work is not frowned upon..

I Love Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, northern Baltic country, freed from Russian rule in the early 1990’s and now a new member of the European Union.

It is a happy, beautiful city, full of charm. It seems to have risen above the many years of oppression in a most enthusiastic way — there is much light left and it is shining through.

We just spent a few days there on our way to Saint Petersbourg. On the way into the Old City from the airport, our taxi driver happily pointed to all the big public works projects we passed by, exclaiming “Big money. Big money.” He was one happy European.

The Old City is one of the best preserved medieval cities left. I didn’t know what this meant until I stepped out of the taxi and saw for myself.

Tallinn

The central square is magnificent. It is ringed by well-proportioned pastel facades which are padded by perfect café terrasses. There is a stage off to one side where I watched local musicians, high school pompom girls, break dancers, karaoke professionals, and diverse uncategorizable entertainers of variable geometry appear in rapid succession.

Wandering through the dedale of narrow cobbled streets was the kind of pleasure that travellers hope for when they discover a new, potentially exotic place. The cobbles are a little big for my taste (felt like walking over watermelons), but they had the merit of being there.

We discovered a restaurant built into a 14th-century monastery. The food was so good that we wound up having 3 of our 5 significant meals there. This meant that we volontarily ignored all the fabulous restaurants in Tallinn’s old town, but hey, when you actually find a table like the Cloistri, you go there.

My principle souvenir was a 4€ slab of locally-made coal-tar soap. Resembles chocolate swirl ice cream, smells like fresh asphalt. Which is what I’ll smell like for the next few weeks.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

I love Tallinn.

PS: Miscellaneous Estonia facts gleaned from recent reading:

1) According to the IMD, Estonia is the 20th most competitive economy in the world.

2) The number of Estonian millionaires, as measured in kroons, has increased by 26% in the last 2 years.

3) One million kroons = 63000 euros.

4) Most Estonian beaches have wifi installed.

5) The Best Estonian Food Awards 2006 went to:

  • Rye bread yogurt
  • Felix brand light borscht
  • White chocolate with puffed rice and blueberry chips.