Sensory Heritage Is The New Green


For some time now green has been the new thing and we live in one of its showcases, with access to all kinds of tropical nature within easy driving distance. But it has been where we live that, for the last few months, has had us greening our own living patterns. There will be a fuller post on that soon, but for now I just smile at my friends across the Atlantic, on a day when our rooster woke me as usual well before the sunrise. And opening the gallinero (chicken coop) on my way to the lower land we are planting, I was sensitive to the smell that I had otherwise stopped noticing until I read this short piece. I appreciate the imaginative approach, probably unique to France, to protecting heritage that some at best take for granted and others find a nuisance:

Townies v tractors

French urbanites fuss about rustic noises and smells

Some second-home owners have sued over loud livestock and church bells

France’s sense of itself has long been rooted in the land, even though three-quarters of French people live in towns. Now, however, having locked down in small airless spaces, many city-dwellers feel the call of the wild. Estate agents report an uptick in searches for homes with gardens. Diehard urbanites talk wistfully of a bucolic existence in la France profonde. In a poll, 61% of the French think confinement will encourage people to move to the country or buy a second home. But do today’s townsfolk know what rural life really entails?

The question arose late last year, when Pierre Morel-À-L’Huissier, a deputy from the Lozère, a remote rural area, introduced a bill to protect France’s “sensory heritage”. By this, he meant “the crowing of the cockerel, the noise of cicadas, the odour of manure”, and other rural sounds and smells. Continue reading

The Great Paddy-City Migration

For those of us living and working in Rising Asia, much in this book either rings true from experience or is eye-opening about things that may be lurking just around the corner, out of sight.  Kerala is a long way from Lahore, in every sense.  But at least the basic notion–that the world has only in the last year or so become one in which a majority of us are urban dwellers for the first time in human history, and not long from now it will be a super-majority–can be felt in Raxa Collective’s back yard.  The great migration from paddy to city is noisily happening all around us each day.  What of it?

Mr. Hamid has alot to say about that, good, bad and ugly.  An interview he conducted to discuss the book can be heard in this podcast.  The book is likely to anger some, but it has received positive reviews, even from often-tough critics:

“Mr. Hamid reaffirms his place as one of his generation’s most inventive and gifted writers.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Continue reading