Although I didn't intend, the world I've seen these last 4 months, has been colored less than usual by my Americanism. Passing from southwest Europe directly to Afghanistan and then the United Arab Emirates and Oman and lastly on to Catalonia, I've inevitably had a different collective observation than had I done separate trips to these places.
In Afghanistan, as a staunch supporter of liberal democracy, I did what every Westerner does: I questioned how democracy could be best implemented. Though after spending time in the Emirates and Oman, I had to ask otherwise. Observably peaceful and organized, and largely untouched by the Arab Spring, these autocratic nations have navigated a history of tribalism while modernizing. Preserving their legacy of hereditary power--respectively ruled by a Sheikh and a Sultan--these leaders have respected human rights, responsibly managed oil wealth (notably absent in 3 of 7 of the Emirates and only moderate in Oman) and turned fishing villages into well-trimmed metropolises. Undoubtedly resource wealth has played a role in these countries development, but that is not the final story. Afghanistan too with tribal history, similar resource largess (both Western aid money and mineral wealth), could benefit from another viewpoint than Western democracy promoters.
And then on to Catalonia, where things are nicely European. (Still rectangular squares of TP and a welfare state where healthcare is free.) But in contrast to the Emirates, Barcelona's charm is more an anachronism: The metro isn't tiled or air conditioned, the sidewalks are brown in places and the people rarely speak English. Though so too the annoyances I spotted last time fade into nothingness. Where I previously felt that Barcelona found the car more important than the pedestrian, in contrast to Dubai, Barcelona did not have a 14-lane highway flanked by 4-lane access roads on either side, running through the city center. And Barcelona's annoying intersections that are tedious to cross? At least I could walk the city without being stymied by odd dead ends and weird 20-foot drops, spandrels of a city where skyscrapers, parking garages and highway on-ramps, creates a super-human jungle gym.
And now in the Catalon countryside, I can't help but notice the parallel between these medieval villages, with streets so narrow only the compactest of European vehicles can squeeze down one-way streets, and the slums of Afghanistan where life perches on mountainside besides donkey tracks that I suppose in 20 years could be paved--with similar compact cars squeezing between homes.
Anyway, occasionally inspired to write, I'd rather spend the the greater part of my time enjoying. Though understand, I am looking at writing for money or magazine.
And while I send these messages out unsolicited, I would like to solicit some feedback based on what you've been seeing the last 4 months. Does my writing at time seem over worked? Too literary? Too boring? I feel I'm improving but some direct feedback other than my own or Spring's is needed.
Thanks in advance for your comments,