Davos Sketch: Curried rye bread, African scarves and the 'magic of Davos'
Easily the most incongruous sight in Davos this year is the proliferation of red-white-green-yellow-black-yellow-green-white-and-blue-striped bobble hats and scarves, as if a bunch of South African soccer fans had invaded the place – which in a way they have, as President Jacob Zuma himself, fresh from his recent nuptials (conducted in full Zulu regalia), leads probably the largest contingent of Africans to attend such a gathering. And there'll be plenty of talk about the World Cup. The scarves and hats were a gift from South Africa to every participant at the forum, and very welcome they are too in conditions that are slightly cooler and snowier than usual (good for skiing, they tell me).
The winter woollies add greatly to the gaiety of the event, but serve also as a further visible reminder of the steadily more cosmopolitan atmosphere in Davos, evident even to those who've been coming for a relatively short time – a reflection of the accelerating shift in economic power away from the old axis of the North Atlantic and Japan.
Last night, for instance, the Mahindra industrial group hosted its soirée, though only the curried rye bread on offer in the Swiss restaurant was much of a concession to proper south-Asian cuisine. Mr Mahindra himself was bullish about his company's prospects, a reminder that in large parts of the world there has been no recession at all.
With the Chinese and Indian interests represented so heavily here again, Davos is emphatically no longer a gathering of middle-aged white men in suits; there are plenty of middle-aged Indians and Chinese men in suits to chat to now. Only joking. They have colourful scarves, too.
The "magic of Davos" isn't always apparent as you pick yourself up from yet another unscheduled and bloodily close encounter with an icy Swiss pavement, but one vignette perhaps sums up what can happen here. Yesterday evening your correspondent was chewing the fat, and the curried rye bread, with, just by chance, a Swiss journalist, the chief executive of Tupperware and the guy who runs Mahindra's joint ventures with BT. There's some real nonsense written about Davos, but it is fair to say that at no other international conference could such a random group be thrown together. Such serendipity! And I now know an awful lot more about Indian business, and Tupperware – which is doing well from the downturn, with so many people taking packed lunches. See how much you can learn at Davos?
- 1 Amy Winehouse statue unveiled in Camden
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
- 4 Headaches, fry ups, and hair of the dog - why do we get hangovers, and is there such thing as a 'cure'?
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
iJobs Money & Business
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...
Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...