15 June, 2021

Easy With Its History

Easy With Its History
In Oslo for a month, occupying a chair at the university named after a Norwegian philosopher named Arne Naess. In the 1960s Naess wrote two fine books on Mahatma Gandhi, but he is better known for having inspired the now flourishing academic field of environmental philosophy. His countrymen seem to have absorbed his ideas unselfconsciously, or perhaps he had absorbed theirs. There are no traffic jams and honking cars, and there are spacious pavements (so unlike my native Bangalore in both respects). Here I can take a tram to work, and walk back. My colleagues prefer to bicycle. Alone among the countries of Western Europe, Norway never had a colony. This odd, and lovely, history gives Norwegians a special character. They are a gentle, relaxed people, who do not need to talk down to you, or indeed, to flatter you to make up for the sins of their forefathers.

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