Saturday, June 07, 2008

Street Food Series

I have been watching a new series of programmes on Al Jazeera English with interest. The first one, produced by Veronica Pedrosa, portrayed the vendors in Penang, Malaysia. I expected a travel programme. What I got a fascinating documentary on how people can not only live together, but celebrate their heritage day after day. It was a great piece of passionate journalism with some truly stunning photography.

One word surprised me. One of the interviewees said that in Malaysia "we talk about "tolerance"". Yet tolerance sounds so negative, and implies there is some point at which I won't tolerate someone else any more. I think the programme showed it to be something else. The people of Penang are learning to co-operate with each other, celebrating their widely differing heritage, but also realising that in order to trade and prosper, they have to share finite resources - including space. Many of the street vendors may work long hours. But they appear to be getting more out of life than many people in an office. Looking forward to the other programmes.

I was a rather amused by the thank you message that AJE sends you when you write on their bulletin board. It sounds like something a civil servant would say.

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