Apologies, this will read like the standard Thomas Friedman column:

“Globalization!!!…America losing its standing in the world…China and India rising!!!”

Formulaic, but probably true.

After traveling the long 44 miles between Amman and Jerusalem yesterday, I’ve been catching up with cousins, aunts and uncles I haven’t seen since I was much shorter. Life in the Middle East generally, and the West Bank in particular, is closely tied up with politics. Even so, people here are still abuzz about Bollywood films and China’s economic development.

Evidence: Yesterday, I had a conversation with my 60+ aunt about her love for Bollywood films. She knew every megastar and even every starlet, from Shahrukh down to Imran.

It’s not just her, either. Bollywood is very popular here. There are several satellite channels that exclusively broadcast Hindi films subtitled in Arabic all day every day.

Today, we shifted from Mumbai to Beijing as we watched the opening ceremony of the Olmypics. Throughout it, all of my relatives were abuzz about China’s economic development and perceived increasing wealth.

The panoramic shots of Beinjing’s newly-minted Olympic infrastructure only served to confirm their perception that China is already, more or less, a developed country. And as we watched every country from Monaco to Guinea-Bissau proudly soldier their national flag, they wondered which country would take the medal count: China or the United States. No one was sure.

Don’t worry, though, they watch Hannah Montana too. America still has something going for it.

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