Category Archives: Asia

Ghosts of Mattancherry

The best of India is often seen in the slow hours before breakfast, the time of day when the subcontinent’s multitude of people and gods stir themselves in the cool mercury light that follows dawn. On my last day in … Continue reading

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Palani – a temple town

  Palani, a temple town in western Tamil Nadu, barely gets a mention in the guidebooks. Too close to the hill resort of Kodaikanal to be of much interest other than as a transport hub, the town was a necessary … Continue reading

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Sacred Fig

A recent re-reading of Richard Mabey on the ancient and revered Fortingall Yew in Scotland put me in mind of other trees with a well-documented spiritual connection. Such a tree is the sacred fig (Ficus religiosa) or bodhi tree in … Continue reading

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Kumano Kodō, Japan

My feature on walking part of the Kumano Kodō pilgrimage trail in Japan will be published in a few days time in Elsewhere journal. Elsewhere is a Berlin-based print journal, published twice a year, dedicated to writing and visual art that explores the idea of … Continue reading

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Ghosts of Empire – Park Street Cemetery, Kolkata

One way of looking at this evocative, if mildly disturbing, place is as a hidden enclave populated with the ghosts of colonialism. Situated right in the middle of Kolkata, tucked away purdah-like from the mayhem of the city streets, the … Continue reading

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Hanami

The Japanese have a word for it – hanami. The full meaning of hanami is difficult to translate accurately but in literal terms it means ‘flower viewing’ and normally refers to sakura, the blossom of cherry trees in spring.  Incorporated … Continue reading

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Rainy Day Kyoto

A  rainy morning in Kyoto. The immediate reaction is one of disappointment – a damper on photographic aspirations for the day. But umbrellas have their own aesthetic charm, as do rain-washed streets and silvery skies. The kimono-clad young women who … Continue reading

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Kyrgyz Graveyards

You see them everywhere in Kyrgyzstan. From afar they resemble hillside villages of mud-brick dwellings but a closer look reveals them to be cemeteries. Usually located a little way outside a village, sometimes on top of a low bluff, they … Continue reading

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Yuri Gagarin’s Holiday

When Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin returned from the first successful manned space flight in 1961 he took a well-deserved holiday. We can only assume that this took place after a considerable debriefing by the Soviet military – it was, after … Continue reading

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Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!

I don’t quite know what it is that has made me think of Vietnam recently. Maybe it was a casual mention in a conversation that made me realise that I don’t have a very vivid memory of the short time I … Continue reading

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