This is the gospel of GBT (Great British Things) according to the Times columnist, chief Sports Writer, Simon Barnes.
1.The Suffolk Coast: reeds, saline lagoons,the volatile, shifting, changing landscape, home of the bitterns, marsh harriers and avocets.
2. The curry houses of Drummond Street.
3. A Dance to the Music of Time. the 12-novel sequence by Anthony Powell
4. The way British people stand on the right and walk on the left in escalators on the Tube. (It’s true, it’s true!)
5.Whisky (especially Glenmorangie)
6.The Beatles: still the best, for ever the best.
7. The Windhover, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ great poem.
8. St Paul’s Cathedral: both Christopher Wren’s building and the mad protestors camped around. All glorying God, or life, in their own way.
9. Cardigan Bay and the dolphin-thronged waters.
10. The World Land Trust: a wildlife conservation organization based in Suffolk, global in purpose, not neo-colonial but empowering.
Can we now do a list of GIT (great Indian things) and GFT (great French things- or German, Irish, Bangladeshi or whichever nation you wish to back.) Prizes for the best effort.
I’ll kick off with 10 GIT.
1. Gandhi’s testament: Khadi cloth., especially plain white or indigo as dyed by Shyamji of Gujerat.
2. the Gayatri Mantra sung by Anuradha Paudwal, which casts a magical spell on all who chant it.
3. Raag Bhairavi played by Amjad Ali Khan on his sarod.
4. Dussehri mangoes, ice cold and preferably eaten in a bath.
5. Woodpigeons cooing in a Neem tree. So sylvan and romantic.
6. The poems of Kabir and Surdas.
7. The the eternal, yet disappearing, sari in all its glorious forms and regional weaves.
8. Home made buffalo milk yogurt with aloo paratha.
9. Khajuraho, eye-wateringly rude and beautiful.
10. Odissi danced by the divine Madhvi Mudgal, Odissi dancer
No landscapes in my Indian list, for a very good reason: Wherever you look, the most striking distractions are discarded plastic bags (pink, blue and white) and various kinds of litter. Mountains, seasides, rivers- all desecrated by a people who profess to worship Matra Bhoomi, Mother Earth.