Tag Archives: Middle East

Coastal escapism.

I needed out. Out of walls, weapons, checkpoints and people convinced of being on first-name-terms with God. I needed a place where bigots were rarer than pandas, alcohol plentiful and the attitude on weed lax. I needed Tel Aviv. Tel … Continue reading

Posted in Israel, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Behind the wall.

It takes a while for me to get the hang of Checkpoint 300. Eventually a corridor in nude concrete and steel, half prison half abattoir, delivers me in a street cul-de-sac’d by the wall. Closed shops and scraps of paper … Continue reading

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Palestine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Jérusalem la nuit.

It’s not a long ride from Ben Gurion to Jerusalem, especially if it’s 4 AM and there’s little, in terms of traffic, to slow down our yellow-and-white sherut van. We weave in and out of the most conservative neighbourhoods of … Continue reading

Posted in Israel, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Confessions of a graphomaniac.

Doctor, dear doctor, help me for I’m a graphomaniac. Yes doctor, I love paper. I adore the smell of the thing, the muffled noise of a pencil running on a smooth sheet. In a nutshell, doctor, I love writing. I … Continue reading

Posted in Odd ones out, Random memories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Beirut people watching.

Humanity is the best spectacle, in this city where gated communities rub shoulders with bombed-out, charred shells. Pneumatically-enhanced bimbos and babes driving Dodge Camaros on one end of the spectrum and ragged Syrian children tapping on their rolled-up windows for … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

You Were Filthy But Fine.

“You were filthy but fine” sang James Murphy in that LCD Soundsystem jewel that is New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down and I, for once, think that it could very well fit to Beirut. Spotless, it certainly … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Remembrance for scatterbrains.

Landing takes place at night. We descend into the warm Mediterranean air, those of us sat on the left-hand side being treated to a royal view of the entire city of Beirut lying, invitingly, beneath us. Here is Ras Beirut, … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Approaching Beirut.

Beirut, Paris of the East. Beirut, mother of laws. Beirut, the city that can be Rio, Miami and 1943 Stalingrad all within the same block. Beirut, the filthy. Beirut, the ironic (another French legacy I suspect). Beirut, you’ve got the … Continue reading

Posted in Lebanon, Middle East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

“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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 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

Posted in Asia, Iran | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments