Sunday, June 24, 2007

Party Politics and International Relations

A couple of weeks ago, Simon, Noam and I decided to have a party. No particular reason, just felt like the right thing to do. Unlike at our previous party, there was no piano-playing at 2:00am -- which would have pleased the neighbours -- but a generally good time was had by all.

Later we worked out that there were representatives from at least twelve other countries besides New Zealand at the party: China, England, India, Iran, Israel, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Peru, Sweden, and Uruguay. And then there was the unfortunate absence (for various reasons) of good friends or recent or future visitors from Australia, Colombia, Ireland, Russia, and the United States.

The cosmopolitan nature of the gathering was hardly a surprise, given that we live in Wellington and work in the academic and government sectors. But it made me think of an interesting twist on the 'pointy-heads and bureaucrats who suck up our taxpayer dollars' rant that predominates in New Zealand.

Sure, we might be unproductive, office-bound stuffed shirts who don't milk cows or drive trucks and therefore don't contribute to the economy. But given that less than ten per cent of New Zealand businesses export, and our participation in the world economy has actually dropped in the last ten years (unlike all other OECD countries), if it wasn't for academia and the public service, would we even have any international relations?.

Photos from the party:

The early arrivals sat around for a civilized chat.

But as always, the action eventually moved to party central: the kitchen.

My Peruvian friends were convinced to leave their Kiwi husbands at home for a quarter share of a 350 ml bottle of the legendary Inka Kola that I had smuggled back from their home country.

Ginny completes the double of making it into the society pages of the Dominion Post and South America Bidsta in the same month.

The Lithuanian contingent were among the most festive.

But what did Noam see lurking behind the photographer....?


Cecilia said...

Well, aren't you all like the United Nations - only funner and without all the bomb threats. Seriously, where else does Lithuania get together with Malaysia and drink bubblegum flavored soda?

Susan said...

Great stuff Simon - do I detect that fun is possible in Wellington in winter! The festivities coming up in Christchurch in 3 weeks are going to be sadly tame in comparison I fear and very monocultural! O dear...

Simon Bidwell said...

Cecilia -- I should mention that access to the bubble-gum flavoured soda was *highly* restricted, and certainly not available to Lithuanians or Malaysians. I was very lucky to get a sip myself.

Anonymous said...

That guy in the middle is the best looking of the lot (in the last photo)...