Obituary: Martha Steedman

It was on a cold February morning in 2010 that I first knocked on the door of Martha Steedman’s beautiful Fife home. A tall, impeccably dressed woman opened the door and ushered me in. It felt like we’d known each other for years.

I was there because I had an idea that I’d like to write a book on Sikkim, a tiny Indian state perched between Bhutan and Nepal that had once been a Himalayan Kingdom. A year earlier, I had retraced a journey that my grandfather had made in 1922, walking 120 miles into a hilltop Buddhist monastery in the heart of Sikkim. Continue reading


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Catastrophes, Iron Curtains, and Currencies


 I looked across at my Budapest taxi-driver from whence the bellow had issued.

“CATASTROPH!” he repeated, this time causing a slight tingle on my tympanums. We had been acquainted for less than a minute, but he seemed determined to let me know that even this brief interaction had caused him immense pain. Continue reading

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Of Balkan Bikes and Civilised Cities

My short trip across Europe by train has already taken me through Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. Tomorrow will be Hungary then Austria, Germany and France and onto London. (For those with an interest in these things, I chose the convoluted third option suggested by that nice man in Seat 61). Continue reading

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