After months of shameful neglect, I will be posting a few blogs here over the next few days as I journey overland from Athens to London.
Travel is most certainly my drug of choice – and for the first six months of this year I went cold turkey. Luckily, as Bryan Ferry memorably crooned, love is also a drug – and I (and my new wife) had preparations for our wonderful wedding this summer to serve as a most effective distraction from confinement to barracks. Nevertheless, our honeymoon in Corsica in July came as a much-needed shot in the arm for us both. After a brief fortnight back in London, we have spent the last two weeks cruising through the Aegean with my parents as they celebrate their Golden Wedding. It would be fair to say that we are both sporting the fixed grins of addicts given the opportunity to overdose.
Today we have finally docked in Athens. I’ll be blogging about both Corsica (the place, not the honeymoon) and the Cruise (extraordinary) in due course, but over the course of the next five days I’ll be returning to the spirit of my 2008-9 journey by train in Asia as I wend my way back to London along the railways of Europe.
The route is, as yet, unclear, but the options are myriad. Step 1 is to leave Greece, probably into Bulgaria. More tomorrow. Toodle pip!
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I wrote an article for The London Library Magazine’s summer 2013 issue on the remarkable tale of four Tibetan boys educated at Rugby School during the First World War. You can read a preview below.
The Indian Quarterly is an excellent new magazine published by Madhu Jain and Jonathan Foreman. I contributed an article for the third edition, out now – available below.
My review in The Sunday Telegraph of Monisha Rajesh’s “Around India in 80 Trains” is available online here and below. Also picked up in the New Statesman’s Cutural Capital reviews round-up here. Continue reading
As a rule I avoid deadlines in India. But earlier this year I had to travel from Kalimpong to Bagdogra Airport, a journey of about four hours, for a flight to Delhi. I made my flight, but not before encountering a situation that says quite a lot about India. Continue reading
It is 8 on a February morning. Around me, 100 Tibetans are seated on the stone paving in front of a temple. The temple is in a cramped square with a canopy of fluttering prayer flags. The hypnotic murmur of Buddhist chants floats over the sounds of drums and cymbals from inside. On the steps of a house on the right of the square, two elderly Tibetan women chatter as they spin their hand-propelled prayer wheels. Nearby a small girl, no more than eight years old, plays with a tiny dog in the corner of the square. Her rosy weather-beaten cheeks contrast with her bright green checked jumper, and give her the look of one who has lived an outdoor life on the Tibetan plateau. Continue reading
“But what if,” I ask, “I wanted to become Indian?”
It is 9am, and we are twelve hours into a seventeen-hour train journey. There is something about Indian trains that encourages social intercourse, and I have succumbed to the temptation to engage in debate with my fellow passengers.
“You know,” I continue. “Like when Indians come to Britain. They get British nationality – why shouldn’t I be able to get Indian nationality?” Continue reading