the emu-sextons pay me a last cursory glance… At Menzies, a dead-on-its-feet mining town a hundred kilometres north of Kalgoorlie, I turn off the bitumen highway onto a rutted track bulldozed through the red dirt landscape of Western Australia. My rented car moves about on the loose surface like a schooner under sail on a… Continue reading IRON AND GOLD
And so I came, at last, to my final destination in India: the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. I had wandered through the stone garden of the Park Street Cemetery, sat quietly in the grand neo-Gothic St. Paul’s Cathedral and walked along busy, crowded Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road to the gardens of the Maidan. The… Continue reading MONUMENT
…the tomb of Nithar, lies reflected in the shimmering pool. In Allahabad I find a secret garden. I have been walking for hours: exploring the parks of the city’s centre, the exquisite domed buildings of the University, the sad, barricaded, derelict cathedral. I have fallen asleep on a concrete bench beneath a shady tree in… Continue reading JAHANGIR’S GARDEN
It is sometimes said that Britain obtained its empire in a fit of absentmindedness. It wasn’t so much a desire to conquer and rule that motivated the British. Rather, it was more of a slow acquisition of territories by default: a kind of global game of pickup sticks where the sticks were colonies, countries and… Continue reading JOHN COMPANY
There is a simplicity and decency in a military burial, even in its plainest form… I am not the first Blakiston in India. My ancestor, Major John Blakiston, served as an officer in both the British Army and with the East India Company from 1802 until 1814. His book Twelve Years Military Adventures in Three… Continue reading CAPTAIN BLAKISTON’S WAR.
The British are great measurers. They have a sense of order. You can see it best in their maps. The Ordnance Survey maps are a perfect representation in two dimensions of every detail of the three dimensional world. Perhaps it’s their Roman heritage. The Romans, too, loved order, measurement and straight lines. It gave their… Continue reading Journey to the Centre of India
I wish I had invented blue jeans… – Yves Saint Laurent It was an uprising in blue. The Nil vidroha, or Indigo Revolt, was a peasant movement started by indigo farmers in Bengal in 1859. Tired of being exploited by landowners and money-lenders, the farmers went on a rampage, taking their cue from the recent… Continue reading The Indigo Revolt
The inlets and coves, slotted into the coastline like notches on a sailor’s knife handle… I was jumped on by a possum at Curio Bay. Now that’s not a sentence you’ll read very often. It was just after ten o’clock at night and I was standing on a headland overlooking the bay, with surf booming… Continue reading Moonlight Encounter
But one thing is certain though: he was a tough bastard. You had to be to survive out in the hills. On Sunday March 4, 1855, James Mackenzie made camp below the summit of a mountain pass. Nearby, on a small flat where two streams met, a flock of 1000 sheep grazed, guarded by Mackenzie’s… Continue reading The Legend of Mackenzie.
And then I thought, “Well fuck this”…