Tag Archives: Middle East

“I have never encountered splendour of this kind before”. Visiting Isfahan with Robert Byron

On paper it sounded like a good idea: visiting a country whilst reading about it, journeying through the physical space and the mental one concocted by a great travel writer, attempting to match my experiences to those of the author. … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Iran | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Weren’t all they supposed to be madmen?

Lunatics. Zealots. Religious fanatics. These were a few of the attributes that friends and acquaintances slapped on the people of Iran whenever the topic came up. Unrequested opinions were offered, together with garbled memories of articles penned down by the … Continue reading

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An afternoon south of the river: finding Armenians in Iran and how civilization begun.

“…a wicked regime where anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial is official ideology, and with […] killing of women just because they’re women”  – Sarah Palin The south bank of the dried Zāyanderūd river is Armenian at heart. This piece of Iran, long … Continue reading

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A taste of things to come

Ah, teasers, don’t we all love them? Despite Turkish Airlines’ best efforts I’ve arrived home from a visit to the most photogenic place I’ve been to recently – Isfahan in Iran. I’ve filled half of my notepad with scribbles which I’ll … Continue reading

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“Arabian Sands”, by Wilfred Thesiger, Penguin Books.

Italo Calvino once wrote that a ‘classic’ is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say. If this is the approved meter of judgement for the category, then I’ve no doubts that Arabian Sands belongs to … Continue reading

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Bethlehem, or how the other half lives.

Call me ignorant, but Bethlehem always evoked pastoral ideas, of secluded grottos – or shacks, depending on the version you liked the most – and of comets. What we found was (once we got on the Arab bus that no … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Faith, Middle East, Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Entering Jurassic Park.

The bus screeched to a halt, its right wheels upon the raised platform that constituted the sidewalk of the checkpoint, a structure so ordinary that I originally mistook it for a toll barrier. Without a word, the majority of the … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Holy land, Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The world from above – An air race over the skies of Iran

The flight was rather uneventful, a barely half-full Qatar Airways Airbus A380 from Doha to London. Meal trays were being cleared away and I was about to decide which film would’ve been more appropriate to induce me to sleep as … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Dubai, Middle East, Public Transportation, The pleasure of flying, The world from above | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stray pets.

Recently, in some of my travels at the fringes of the European continent or in the Middle East, I stumbled upon many stray domestic animals. Even though I’ve always seen cats happily going about, minding their own business, the sight … Continue reading

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Sand, slavery and racism: welcome to Dubai, y’all

I landed at Dubai’s airport in the worst mood possible: one part crossed and two parts pissed in the hangover sense of the term. I was crossed because this was a no-notice job and, for once, I had plans that … Continue reading

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