Asia

I used to know what I thought about Iraq

Back in 2002/3 when we were demonstrating against the war it seemed so much simpler. Now, though I can see the case for air strikes, that to leave those fleeing IS without air cover could result in massacres which will be filmed and shown to us, it feels like we’re trying to put out a fire with parrafin.

Samos, Greece

Paying the bill in the hotel today the woman went through the things I’d eaten or drunk then started saying two and a half hours internet, three hours internet etc.. They had wifi access and I’d been sitting there with my laptop, assuming it was free, not realizing they were noting down how long I was sitting there and charging me for it. There were signs saying internet 3 euros per hour by the computers, but when there’s wifi that’s usually free, except when some charging thing comes up on the screen and you have to put in a credit…

Ephesus Museum. Selçuk, Turkey

American woman talking to museum warden: – I like Turkish people. So would you describe yourself as a European? I’ve been to other countries in Europe and they don’t like us much. The French don’t like us, but in Turkey the people are so friendly. Your Ataturk was a great man, he really brought your country into the modern age, and look at you now: a developed country that’s neither muslim nor christian…

Selçuk, Turkey

This is a small town near to the ruins of Ephesus, the capital of the Eastern part of the Roman empire. I have been told to procure photos of the site so that they may be entered into a database.

Istanbul, Turkey

Sitting on the sea wall where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara. It’s Ramadan though it doesn’t seem to be as strictly observed here as in Morocco, the other islamic country I’ve been to during Ramadan. There, in Casablanca, I was stopped by a couple of policemen who had spotted me taking a swig from a bottle of water. Though they weren’t so bothered when they realized I wasn’t Moroccan, they still told me it was forbidden. In the more touristy places, such as Marrakech, some cafes were open during the day for tourists, but I only ever saw…

From Triund to Venus via the tenth dimension

There are dense toxic gases and bacteria the size of buses, but apart from that, unless you’re able to see in the tenth dimension, there’s not much on Venus. Some call it the ninth dimension, some the eleventh, some the first, some say it isn’t a dimension at all. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, except to the Venusians for whom it’s very definitely the tenth dimension, and they get quite offended if you suggest it isn’t.

With some Venusians in the Milky Way cafe

Up on Triund there are not enough memories to fill the time that passed. I was awake the whole night. I may have slept an hour, but certainly no more than that. A trippy hippy danced around saying we are all organic gardeners, we are all one, we are all one organic gardener. At the time there were three of us. Four including him. Twenty or thirty around the fire, and maybe a hundred scattered across Triund in caves and shepherds’ huts and chai shops. In the present tense a woman asks an old man the time. She points to…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

There are rumours that the Dalai Lama arrives today. Although this is supposed to be his home he doesn’t seem to spend much time here. People say he’s just coming to destroy a mandala, and then he’ll be off again. His movements are supposed to be posted on www.tibet.com but I can’t find where.

The last chai shop before Triund

Walking up to Triund at the last chai shop before the top a guy in uniform with a gun (police or army, I’m not sure which) and someone in a checked shirt stop. Namaste. You are from which country? asks the plain clothes one. England. Let me see your passport. I don’t have my passport on me but I show him my driving licence. Two guys walk past and they are asked the same question but their English isn’t good and they don’t answer, they just keep walking. At the top I’m told there are a number of police hanging…

McLeod Ganj, Himachal Pradesh, India

The moon is almost full. It’s hanging over the hills in the East, above Triund. The seas are clearly visible: three dark patches. If I squint I can see a face that’s either happy or angry, but not really. I’ve ordered French onion soup and Veg. Mushroom Curry Rice. I’m in Dharamkot. This is the Israeli occupied part of McLeod Ganj. Israelis here outnumber all other nationalities, including Indians. At least that’s how it seems if you go to any of the cafes and restaurants. Many signs and menus are written in Hebrew. I don’t know why there are so…

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