Yesterday was just wonderful because of two anecdotes (which don't make a dataset). As I came back from class in the morning, I noted that India had acquired two noticeboards behind their husting and made some comment to the lads manning the booth. Quick as you like one of them said "We have a lot of people in India" to which I replied that the Chinese were 6 meters South and they could manage with one board. Another chap put his arm round the shoulder of his pal and said that he was from Pakistan but had thrown his lot in with the Indians because there were only 4 or 5 Pakistanis on campus and they had, this year, been snowed under with assignments and exams. I was quite affected by this casual statement because people have been killed in Indo-Pakistani conflicts in 1947, 1965, 1971, 1999 with stand-offs and shape-throwing in 1986, 1987, 2001 and 2008, not to mention the perpetual simmering aggro over Kashmir. I quipped that the (articulate, sunny [and probably Sunni too ho ho] and clearly intelligent) young man would be the next President but three back home in Pakistan. It's not impossible to imagine that an Indian friendship forged in Ireland 3 decades before would open up the dialogue to avert a nuclear meltdown on the subcontinent in 2043.
Later on I was roused from reading a pile of lab-books by a blare of Latin American music and went out to the balcony to see the Brazilians showing that their hips move. I was standing next to one of the porters and I told him my morning's tale. After another set, he turned to me and said that this multiculturalism (nods downwards) was just berluddy marvellous and not before time. So we agreed that bacon and cabbage was all very well but it was just great to have the option for kielbasa and chicken balti. I think we both felt a certain pride to be working in an Institute that was enabling something so important. Tomorrow I'll have my last classes which include two pairs of French students. They've been with me since September but return to their home college in Paris after Christmas. They've brought a different way of writing their lab reports which I'm going to implement next year and have generally and in every way been étudiants formidables - they've been good for us all.
Bon chance les mecs!