The first time I ever visited a place I’d read about in a travel book was when my family took a holiday in Hong Kong in 1993. I was twelve, and I’d found and read a yellowing edition of Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities only the previous year. In Hong Kong, the inaugural stop on his itinerary, Fleming received a Tiger Balm massage, messed around with chopsticks, played fan-tan in Macau, and discussed the Bretton Woods agreement. Given my age, I could partake in only one of these thrills. I concentrated hard, during my trip, to see if the city felt in any way like Fleming’s Hong Kong, but in vain. Much later,
Samanth Subramanian | Is Travel Writing Dead?
The Centenary of the Russian Revolution
Boys in Zinc
Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich on the USSR in Afghanistan.
‘There are clubs like the Breach Candy Club all over the Indian subcontinent: relics of the Raj, institutions that were set up as bolt-holes for the British, where they could retreat to row or swim or play cricket or race horses.’
Robert Moor remembers hitch-hiking across Newfoundland: ‘The way to pronounce Newfoundland, Bill and Sue instructed me, is to remember that it rhymes with understand.’
Things I Didn’t Know
‘When people would ask me what I was doing in Istanbul, I would explain that I’m a freelance writer and translator, and I move a lot. I move intuitively, I would say: places call to me.’