Wednesday, November 3
Expo 2020, 15:23
The metro journey from Salah Al Din to Expo 2020 takes almost an hour, most of which we spend standing. We arrive to find a place even bigger and more baffling than we expected. We know the site has free shuttles to carry people around, but we discover that it also has paid shuttles to carry people around, and we can see no way to distinguish them.
We will end up doing a lot of walking.
We start with a ride to the Indian pavilion, driven there by a man from Kerala, who can’t decide whether to charge us or not. We queue for a while and then enter as part of a little snake.
Our impression starts out as enthusiastic. We enter into sensory overload as our snake walks through an indoor garden paradise where young people demonstrate yoga and herbs grow. We enter a room where every surface has constantly moving projections of aspects of India.
We then continue through floors of tired propaganda which, at every step, concentrate on wonderfully meaningless numbers that seem designed to hide as much as they reveal. During the last year over 49 billion seconds of online lessons were uploaded to which I could only respond: why count it in seconds, milliseconds would make a bigger, more technical sounding number!
Facebook have a stand where they show videos demonstrating how they have transformed the lives of Indian people for the better. They stay in touch! They start groups! They buy stuff! They check the weather forecast! In these and other ways they become happier than they have ever believed possible.
We finished the day at the Saudi Arabian pavilion which proved a completely different experience. They had obviously decided to deal with any tricky political or social problems by completely ignoring them. You could leave the building without knowing that Saudi Arabia even had a king, whereas you left the Indian building having seen so many photographs and videos of Narenda Modi that you could more or less sketch his face from memory.
The Saudi building concentrated on overwhelming you with high tech wonderment, and we certainly left feeling overwhelmed. I took an image during the final section which showed a kaleidoscope of projects still and moving imagery allegedly demonstrating the future of the planet.
By then the sky had turned pitch dark and we turned our attention to working out how we might leave. A long while later we identified the metro station.