Thursday, November 18, 2010
I may reveal myself to be slightly nerdy here but i do love a good story so here goes. Just quickly: if you're unfamiliar with the Telegram World Map, it's a majestic 1.75m x 1.25m canvas map of (you guessed it) the world. It's pacific-centred, so that means little old Australia is in the spotlight. And it is the best thing ever.
We have one (actually, two) at NoteMaker adorning our walls and inspiring us to action. I thus see it every day and still I never tire of it. It always has something new to say every time I walk on by.
It really is like the World's Best Storyteller. It is history, politics, environmental studies and stories of all kind and it will never run out.
As an example I was looking at a teeny region in Indonesia called the Banda Strait which is a notorious body of water which holds the Banda Islands. Did you know that back in the days when Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies (history, politics, geography...) these little islands were basically the epicentre of Imperial Europe?
The Dutch and the British had quite the conflict over this tiny group of islands which takes up no more than 1 square centimetre on the map (which is 21875 square centimetres in total) because it was the world's only source of Nutmeg and Mace in the 18th century - the wonder spices. Nutmeg was good for whatever ails you - the plague, dysentry, flatulence, general blues, impotence, just everything! - and was being sold in London for 60 thousand times its purchase price in the Banda Islands.
So, the battle was worth fighting...anyway, to cut an increasingly long story short, a treaty was signed between the English and the Dutch. England had one of the Banda Islands called Run and the Ducth had New York City...and believe it or not, they swapped!
Think of the difference that makes to the world today! The English traded a tiny island for the mighty world-running U S of A. Just think about how the world would be today if that never happened! And all for some spices!
And just think about how awesome something must be if a cursory glance at it can bring about all of the long-winded enthusiasm above. History, politics, geography, environment...stories. If you want to learn more about the Spice trade, check out Nathaniel's Nutmeg. If you want to find out another 21 874 amazing stories (and that must be an understatement!) then click here.