Why travelling isn’t about seeing the world

Have you noticed how different people respond to stress? For some, they get jittery – speaking fast and waving their arms, battling through the discomfort of a difficult situation by spinning around and doing more stuff with a spirit of wired wild gusto.

For others, (and when I say others I really mean me), ‘they’ do the opposite. They get quiet, overly-thoughtful, cramped into themselves as if the overwhelming task list or difficult situation were actually shaped into an physical box around their bodies. For these people, stress and overwhelm makes them retreat from the world, until it actually feels smaller. Room sized. Not full of action and opportunity and big African skies and deep turquoise seas at all.

Which got me thinking about why we travel.

I could wax lyrical about this for paragraphs and paragraphs, but what it comes down to is this.

Most of the time I don’t think the reason we travel is to see and explore more of the world. I think we travel to break down the temporary prisons we create in our own heads. We travel to remind ourselves of the way things really are beyond that made-up world of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’.

Travel is a kind of therapy. It forces perspective. It deftly dodges unwanted responsibilities. At it’s best, it can put you into the kind of lost and wild situations in which you can get back to yourself. Your bigger self. Your freer self. The self that sees through it all. 

When I was in Oregon last year, after a particularly difficult few days, I left my apartment, hired a car, and drove. I drove until I hit the beach, and when I did, I stopped the car. I watched the waves and waited. I was listening for something, inside me, which would tell me which way to go – north to Astoria or south towards San Francisco. I waited for about 20 mins, until somewhere, deep in my gut, a ball of energy appeared, expanded, and travelled up my torso. Out of it, a thought came. Not one of those heady brain thoughts. One of the deep instinctual ones. I started the engine, pointed the car in the direction this instinct was telling me to go, and drove.

For what ever reason, it’s that kind of behaviour that we have license to indulge in when we travel.

Which begs the question, if this is all about breaking out of mind traps and acting on deep instinct, why do we wait until we board a plane to give ourselves permission to experiment with this kind of freedom? Can’t we do it right here, right now?

And on this ordinary Tuesday night, sat in my bedroom with my work bag stuffed with papers and to-do lists at my feet, in a world made up of turquoise seas and big African skies, it’s that thought that I’m going to focus on tonight.

Top six things to do in Norrebro

Norrebro is the Shoreditch or Williamsburg of Copenhagen. By day, it’s coffee shops, second hand clothes and furniture stores. By night, it’s students cycling between basement bars and sprawling out of indie cinemas, not to mention being the home of some of the best restaurants in the city’s very foodie food scene.

But as is often the way with off-centre neighbourhoods, finding and navigating its hidden gems isn’t always straight-forward. Here are six pointers on enjoying this part of the city.

1) Try the best coffee in the world

The original Coffee Collective up on Jaegersborggade is renowned for its precise and professional approach to coffee. And as well it should. Set up by two-time World Barista Champion Klaus Thomsen and World Cup Tasting Champion Casper Engel Rasmussen, the claim that this is the planet’s best brew doesn’t sound too outlandish. When we were there, creating a single coffee took one barista several minutes to perfect as he carefully poured a tiny trickle of hot water over ground beans, making sure that every granule got an equal amount of attention. These are people that take their coffee very seriously. And very tasty it was too.

To try for yourself, follow this map.

2) Find Hans Christian Andersen’s grave

The Assisten Cemetery is the Danish story-teller’s final resting place, keeping eternal company with Soren Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr, among a few hundred other somewhat less well known folk. On a sunny day however it’s more of a public park than a cemetery – a place where lovers cuddle up on benches and mothers run after their wayward toddlers. Indeed, the manicured hedgerows surrounding each grave plot makes them feel like mini gardens in their own right. In an area that’s known more concrete charm than natural beauty, it’s a little oasis that’s worth a visit on your way up to Jaegersborggade.

3) Eat salted caramel liquorish

Now there are other streets in Norrebro than Jaegersborggade, and we’ll get to those in a moment, but for now, let’s take a second to talk about caramels. Karamelleriat is Denmark’s first handmade sweet shop, where opposite the till two guys roll long lines of squishy liquorish through some kind of old-looking metal machine after cooking up the concoction in a copper pan over an open fire.  The result, they say, is deep, intense flavour lovingly crafted using ancient recipes. We just thought it tasted gorgeous, but to find out for yourself, hop on your bike and follow this map.


4) Bar hop on Blaagaardsgade and Elmegade

Aha, a different street! Blaagaardsgade and Elmegade are closer to the centre of town and, while in the day time they may not look like much, by night the pavements are packed with bicycles as a twenty and thirty-somethings crowd cosy into its lower-ground floor bars. We liked Escobar on Blaagaardsgade – a kind of rock/metal bar where big baked bean cans are used for lampshades and a stuffed seagull is stuck to the ceiling, accompanied by a useful sign in English telling us ‘don’t feed the bird’. For a more classy experience, there’s Malbeck Vinoteria on Elmegade for a candlelit little table vibe, or for every beer you can imagine there’s Olbaren (with a red neon sign saying ‘Ol’). And if you need a survivors brunch the next day, just go to The Landromat Cafe. Where else in the world can you get pancakes, scrambled egg, hummus, pineapple and greek yoghurt on a single plate?

5) Discover the next Noma

Speaking of food, Noma’s reputation as the best restaurant in the world has sparked a dining renaissance in the city. An army of ex-Noma chefs have now set up their own ventures to rival Reni Redzepi’s stalwart, with two of the best back up on Jaegersborggade. On one side of the road you have Relae, set up by ex-Noma sous chef Christian F. Puglisi, and then over the road you have Christian’s other venue, Manfreds & Vin, a small wine bar with around nine tables for two and an open kitchen. We tried Manfreds and the food was, frankly, incredible – we loved the chef’s-choice lunchtime tasting menu, which included small plates of fresh cod, poached eggs, roasted brussel spouts, and cabbage with nuts and sauces that made what seemed like very ordinary ingredients taste pretty extraordinary. It was 250KR (around £25) per person, and well worth every penny.

Find Manfreds here.

6) Visit the cinema

We were in town for Copenhagen’s International Documentary Film Festival, which meant we spent a lot of time traversing the city hunting down its indie cinemas. Two of the best were in Norrebro. First, the Empire Bio on a pretty side street of Guldsbergade has a couple of medium sized screens and a lovely cafe, with a big lobby to house the pre-film buzz. Then on Norrebrogade itself you have the more makeshift Theatre Grob, where the audience shuffle through the small bar and into a blank blank studio to watch movies sat on rows of fold down chairs raised by temporary scaffolding. Way more character than your usual Odeon.

To get to Norrebro, go to Norreport metro and walk over the massive canal (lake? river?) on Norresbrogade. Elmesgade is about a ten minute walk from Norreport, and  Jaegersborggade is a further ten mins walk away. Or you could just stay in Norrebro itself – we really liked Kerstin and Mario’s place which we found through AirBnB.

An ode to Broadway Market

Oh Broadway Market
What’s happened to you?
You used to be home to crack addicts,
And now you’re all about teeny tiny vegan cakes.


They are very beautiful
Small red velvet cups
And tied died meringues
Perused by people like me
Wrapped up warm, wearing ray ban sunglasses,
Armed with an iPhone Instagramming camera.


You’re now a bit like Borough
But smaller and marginally more expensive.
Packed with people clutching Clipson’s coffees
Proud of being brave and cutting edge enough
To venture into the crime-ridden socially deprived eastend.


But the old guys singing old songs are lovely,
The girl with victory rolls and an accordion puts a spring in our step,
And those extortionately priced pots of green pesto are bloody gorgeous.

Oh, how you bankrupt me.
Oh, how you infuriate me.
Oh, I still think you’re lovely.

Oh, Broadway Market.

The trouble with writing about Kosovo

This year I went to Kosovo a lot.

‘Kosovo?’ I hear you say, ‘Why on earth would you go to Kosovo?’

Good question. After all, tourists aren’t really going to Kosovo. In most people’s heads, Kosovo is still a mash up of ethnic hatred and post-war reconstruction and memories of atrocities we’d all rather forget.

That war was however nearly fifteen years ago now, so it would be fair to assume that things in that tiny landlocked corner of the Balkans might have changed a little in that time. Which is why I went.

To be fair, I also went because the lovely people at the British Council and Kosovan Foreign Ministry paid for me to get there, giving the amazing opportunity to dash all over the country on a Political Tour and talk to all sorts of very important people so I could write about it for BA’s High Life magazine.

And having gotten just a little bit under the skin of the place (and, for the place to have gotten a little bit under mine), I met a guy who was the creative director of an incredible documentary film festival in the pretty town of Prizren and saw the potential for another story. So I pitched it to The Guardian, and lo and behold I was back there this summer too.

Which means I’ve been to Kosovo twice this year.

What I found out is there’s a hell of a lot of stories to tell about Kosovo. And very few of them have been told yet. I’ve tried to tell two of them – with varying success – for those afore mentioned publications. I’ve just written a 101 word summary about what I thought it was like there, which of course feels a bit one dimensional and a little glib and doesn’t quite do the place any sort of justice.

Which is what’s proving to be the problem. How can one person’s writing about a place ever do it any sort of justice?

A freelance writer I had working for me recently wrote a lovely blog about how all travel writing is a kind of process of translation. The writer sees and experiences a place, they do their best to learn all they can about it, and then they attempt to communicate all that that experience was within a 1000 word word-limit.

But every place is so big, so multi-layered, they can never really, fully succeed. They can give an idea, the beginnings of a sense of things, suggestions perhaps. They can offer attempts at insights which never quite capture but at least point towards the truth of the matter, or at least their version of it. They can add that to the body of all the other things that have been written and hope to add something new and authentic.

In essence, they can just do their best.

The trouble with writing about Kosovo however is all that and more. Because not only is there the challenge of writing an accurate version of the place, but there is also the challenge that because very few others are writing about it, there are so many versions to be written.

The version I want to write is about what it’s like right now. The young energy and the cool hangouts and the start-up creativity; the girls with fringes and boys with beards; the techno beat pumping from backstreet apartments. The guys running off-piste ski weekends and the club owners capitalising on the fact this very young population really just want to have some fun.

But there is another version. Like the 2000 people still missing and the mothers still hoping their sons will walk through the door.

Another friend of mine says you should never use the phrase ‘xxxxxx is a city of contrasts’ in a travel piece – that it’s such a hackneyed, well-worn phrase that it’s become meaningless. But in Kosovo’s case, it’s true. It is a place of contrasts. As Nathan Coley’s Pristina installation last year proudly proclaimed in light bulbs; it’s a place beyond belief.

Which probably means that until there are more people writing about it so you can aggregate all those different viewpoints, you should just go and see it for yourself.

And until then, here are some pictures of my version…

Kino lumbarghi in Prizren
Kino lumbarghi in Prizren
Serb Orthodox Decani Monestry
Serb Orthodox Decani Monestry
Snow in Brezovica
Snow in Brezovica
Big Kosovan Landscapes
Big Kosovan Landscapes
Newborn monument in Pristina
Newborn monument in Pristina

101 word guide to Kosovo right now

Young. The average age is just 25.

Macchiatos. Pristina’s Mother Therese boulevard is pavement café central.

Kosovo haz hipsters. Tingle Tangle cafe/bar is popular with skinny jeaned people.

Protests. Albin Kurti‘s Vetvendosjia party wants self determination. Hipster girls fancy him.

Conflict. Mitrovica is divided between Serb and Kosova Albanian communities.

Statehood. 87 UN countries don’t recognise Kosovo as a nation. It’s tricky for Kosovans to sort travel visas.

Culture clash. Youth mag Kosovo 2.0 cancelled their Sex issue launch party this year because of religious extremist gatecrashers.

Mountains define Kosovo’s borders. Once lined with thousands of refugees; now underused by off piste skiers.

Mali: Please don’t stop the music

When world music super-group Tinariwen took the Barbican stage last November, typically dressed in traditional Sahara sand-shielding scarves and clutching electric guitars set to ‘blues’, the audience knew they were about to see something special. People shuffled forward on their seats, whooping and clapping. The lady in front of us leaned over to her friend’s ear, “you know, it really is amazing they’re here at all.” “Where else would they be?” came the reply, followed by a shared, knowing, eyebrow-raised half-laugh.

Of course, if you’re not into your world music, which to be fair most people probably aren’t, the name Tinariwen won’t mean much. I can’t say it meant too much to me at this point, even though Songlines had just announced them as their band of the year. What I had clocked however, which you might have too, is that just a few weeks before large parts of Tinariwen’s home nation, Mali, had fallen into mujahedeen control. The country’s new leaders enforced a strict form of Islamic law – which included a ban on music. Tinariwen, like the many other Malian musicians touring the world, were now in a kind of cultural exile.

For somewhere like Mali, it’s hard to imagine a more damaging law. This West African nation might be known for arid, desert landscapes and crippling poverty, but it’s also known for its music. Stalwarts like Armadou and Marium and Toumani Diabate have developed a global fanbase, while newcomer Rokia Traore was the first act announced at Glastonbury this year. Music is in Mali’s blood.

Toumani Diabate at Festival au Desert 2007. This year's festival has been cancelled.
Toumani Diabate at Festival au Desert 2007. This year’s festival has been cancelled.

So why ban music? It’s certainly true that in many authoritarian or dictatorial regimes, tight control on the arts – and on music in particular – seems to have been a common feature. During the cold war years for instance, live music performances were tightly licensed to the point of being banned across Eastern Europe; with popular musicians targetted by the secret police for being involved with something so ‘subversive’. In a recent – and brilliant – article on in Delayed Gratification magazine entitled “They feared us because in music you cannot cheat” – 70s Czech rock band Plastic People talk about the pressure to vet their lyrics, how fans were arrested on route to their gigs, of being tortured, imprisoned.

Indeed, it’s easy to see that if your goal is to control people and curtail freedom of expression, then music poses a genuine threat. There isn’t much that feels more freeing than singing a song or busting crazy moves in a packed dancefloor. And in Mali, the role of music seems to be as much about identity as it is about freedom. In a Time article this May by Aryn Baker, a Bamako-based music producer said, “the way music functions in Mali is to empower people by reminding them who they are and where they come from. You eliminate that, and it becomes easier to control them.”

That said, that doesn’t seem to be what’s going in here. Control and authoritarianism seem to have a place, yes, but there is a religious texture to this particular ban that doesn’t have the ring of a purely localised instrument of power.

Should we be worried? Should we do more to fight for and support local, traditional music – the kind you hear wafting from courtyards and dance to at weddings? And at the other end of the scale, should we think twice about the commodised globalised autotuned sameness that plays from so many radio stations, inspiring people to sing not for the joy of singing, but in the hope of one day ‘getting famous’?

In the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you got til it’s gone. Music is one of those things we take for granted; it’s only when it is banned that we perhaps realise just how important it is. As the beautiful Malian singer and musician Fatou Diawara said recently in an interview with NPR, “music, it’ a kind of hope for us. Even if we are not musicians, people need music.”

Photo credit: Flickr, The Queen’s Hall

Travel notes: things I noticed in Mumbai

This post isn’t really a post, just a collection of observations from 3 days in Bombay.

Squeezed onto seven islands, each with a hazy high rise skyline, bordered by litter strewn beaches and breakers. Battered old non-AC taxis and rickshaw rides through busy roads like a street car rally. The constant symphony of car horns of every note and tone.

The ladies only train carriage; a man wheeling his torso on a make-shift skateboard through the spaces between us, sat up straight, head high, shouting about the passport covers he’s selling. Three hijab covered women use me as an arm rest as they haul their bodies out of their seats, mascara-heavy eyes smiling. Hot hot sunshine.

Non-AC taxis in Mumbai - cheaper and more fun than their AC brothers.
Non-AC taxis in Mumbai – cheaper and more fun than their AC brothers.

Sweet small children with open faces who call you ‘ma’am’ or ‘madam’, asking you to buy a postcard or bangle from their ‘small business’. Respectful sideways wobbles of the head as you explain – ‘no thank you’. Colaba’s crumbling colonial homes on attractive tree-lined streets decorated with roadworks bollards and barriers lit up with fairy lights like Christmas.

Laburnam Rd in Mumbai, near the Gandhi museum
Laburnam Rd in Mumbai, near the Gandhi museum

Hazy sunsets on a deep semi-clean beach. Teenage b-boys attempt head spins and break dance moves in front of a friendly crowd of mostly girls.

Swish shoreditch-esque restaurants in bling Bandra, the Pali Village cafe, serving European fusion cuisine at London prices in a concrete candle lit room. The rip off Polpo – tapas not Italian. California calm Yoga House cafe – exceptional marsala chai tea while we surf their wifi. A Polish reggae band play a bad soundsystem in a hot rooftop bar. Calcutta based indie pop band Neel and the Lightbulbs wow us in The Blue Frog with their sweet story-telling and killer guitar playing. Dancing to Metalica in Totos – drinks served by middle-aged men in super mario outfits.

Bandra B-Boys
Bandra B-Boys

Endorphin-filled Old Monk rum making for freestyle dancing to Kanye West in our friend’s cool bachelor apartment, the projector pointing at an angle along a white wall as video ballet dancers strike angular poses. Girls in cocktail dresses, short skirts, hot pants; put together and manicured, hair quaffed, high heels. The men with beautifully symmetrical faces and elegant cheek bones, wide shoulders and tiny waists. Toned, tall.

People travelling in gangs. Kind old men keen to point you in the right direction, issuing repeated warnings about being extra careful in bustling old Victoria train station.The mind-blowing opulence of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, built for princes and maharajas, every vase, chair, painting each something from a museum or art gallery.

Suite used by John and Yoko at the Taj Mahal Palace
Suite used by John and Yoko at the Taj Mahal Palace

Litter everywhere. Plastic bags bobbing in the sea. The mangrove marshes used as washing lines for Bandra’s slum-dwellers, kids running around as mums hang out colourful clothes to dry in the relentless sunshine. More car horns. Heat. Mobile phone rings. Italian restaurants.

A serene temple up some crumbling stairs, passing women say outside their front doors to catch some evening air. Serenity. Small children from Rajasthan ask us where we are from then run away giggling. Bazaars of coriander and chillis and red onions. Spices and garlic. Antique doors, compasses, time pieces, car parts.

Food markets near the Chor Bazaar
Food markets near the Chor Bazaar

Being on guard and letting it down. More speedy rickshaws who don’t know where they are going – directing them with iphone GPS on streets you’ve never been on. Energy. Assurance and confidence. Frustration at a 5% growth rate. A city and people getting up late but on the up.

Why Monocle radio is the saviour of travel-starved global citizens

It’s Friday night and I’m sat in my dining room. I’ve just finished a bowl of homemade spicy parsnip soup, the kitchen still looks like a grenade has hit it, and my blood pressure is steadily returning to normal after a too-hectic week; soothed by the prospect of the food and friend filled weekend ahead.

But this isn’t an ordinary Friday night. In fact, something pretty exciting has happened, which is making this night an entirely satisfying and wholly atypical evening. Yes, this is the Friday night that from this day forth will be remembered as the night that I discovered the Monocle 24 Radio app.

Right now, I am listening to its long, languishing documentary on the Toronto brunch scene. While the scratchy audio sounds like a dispatch from an intrepid journo reporting war-torn insights from across the barricades; the story being told – of bearded /scraggly-fringed media-types gathering together over eggs and bloody marys in cafes decorated in street art and playing The XX – is as familiar as my own Sunday plans in London most weekends.

Next, we cut into a steady, relaxed conversation between a British journo and a Québécois cheese affineur on what makes a good comte. And now some designer is explaining how he turned his studio into a pop-up restaurant selling Mexican street food, where customers are treated to limited edition designed t-shirts once they finish their meal.

Monocle radio

I can’t tell you how happy this is making me. As anyone whose perused this blog will know, one of my great loves is travelling somewhere totally new, exploring the city, and then scouring its neighbourhoods for the kind of arty-ish cafes that are in no small way dissimilar to the places where I spend too many comfortable hours not 15mins from my house near Broadway market.

Now, you may think this is a little pointless, or perhaps even a little ‘affected’. “Travel the world only to find places just like those you visit at home? You’re no better than those people who don’t leave their hotel without knowing the location of the nearest McDonald’s,” you might think. And to be fair, you would have an excellent point. I am quite conscious that at times my travel preferences reflect something of a cliché – someone who with no trace of irony would happily call themselves a global citizen while also going nuts when they find a spot in the backstreets of an unlikely town that has solid wifi, indie electro music and serves soya lattes.

The thing is, I’m not sure these two things are mutually exclusive. I don’t want to stay in my London comfort cafe zone. I want to explore. I want to see how people live and work and relax and party. I want local people to have me round for dinner at their place and feed me their favourite meal; listening to their favourite music. I want those uncomfortable moments when I have virtually no idea what’s being said, or what I’m eating, or how the hell I’m going to find my way back to my Air Bnb ‘home’.

But I also want to know that wherever I am in the world; from NYC’s Lower East Side to the central drag in Ramallah, that there are people there who are just a little bit like me. Who like the things I like. Who relax the way I relax. And not because I want everything to be the same everywhere like in some anti-globalisation horror story, but because I really like being reminded that whatever country you’re in and wherever you’re from, people aren’t really all that different.

Which is why I’m loving Monocle 24. I’m over-worked and travel-starved, and London in all its cloud-covered glory is starting to feel like a bit of a fortress. I’m itching to be somewhere different on the unspoken promise that it might get me back into a more optimistic and enlightened perspective that’s seemingly full of possibility.

But it’s Friday night, I’m tired, it’s cold out, and I have to clean up my kitchen. So thank god there are radio stations like this one to plug into for a few hours – reminding me that there are a whole world of as yet unvisited places out there serving my favourite hot beverage where I’ll feel oddly at home.

Monocle 24 radio is the latest classy content production from Tyler Brûlé, whose Monocle magazine has been described as “a meeting between Foreign Policy and Vanity Fair”. Check it out here

The Path to Peace in the Middle East? A Documentary Review

In a packed cinema in Tel Aviv, the screen is filled with the image of Adriaan Vlok, South Africa’s former Minister for Law and Order, washing the feet of a grief stricken mother whose son’s death he ordered (one of the “Mamelodi 10“), during the Apartheid years, while saying “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for what we did to you people.” The women next to me hands me a tissue, and I turn round to look at the audience behind me, noticing that I’m far from the only one struggling to maintain their composure.

Photo Credit: Erez Laufer

This is day five of the Docaviv film festival and the Israeli premiere of One Day After Peace – a documentary following the journey of Robi Damelin, an Israeli peace activist, who is investigating the South African Truth and Reconciliation process after her son is killed by a Palestinian sniper in the West Bank while he was serving at an Israeli military checkpoint. Her aim is to see whether this process, which has been applied after conflicts in Ireland, Rwanda, and in Canada and the United States (between the state and Native American populations), could one day work in Israel and Palestine. She is also wrestling with her own grief, seeking a meeting with her son’s killer in the hope that by understanding why it happened she might gain some closure.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process, we learn, is a radical one. Perpetrators of violence and killings from each side of the conflict are invited to testify before a commission (and often the families of victims) and speak honestly about the events of the time, focusing how it happened and who was involved. They do not need to apologise – although some do – and families do not need to forgive – although some do that too. What they do need to do is speak honestly and acknowledge what happened, on the record, without omission. In return, they receive amnesty from prosecution, while the involved parties hope this process will end the cycle of violence.

The film makes it clear that the process isn’t perfect. Damelin speaks to victims like Shirley Gunn who was initially framed by Vlok for the bombing of Khotso House, who feel the TRC didn’t go far enough, as well as perpetrators who rejected the process and faced prosecution because they felt their actions were justified; “it was war, it was necessary”. Damelin also journeys into Palestine, meeting and bonding with mothers of Palestinians killed in the conflict, while facing the criticism at home for doing so.

The main message of this film however is that for peace to come, this kind of process is absolutely essential. As one of the men who testified before South Africa’s TRC says, “it is painful to touch a scar, but sometimes you need to touch it so that, slowly, it can begin to heal”.

However, we are also left feeling we are a long way from that kind of resolution in the Middle East. Robi’s son’s killer agrees to meet her, but makes it clear that he thinks she is crazy to want to reconcile with him. And Robi herself admits that Truth and Reconciliation can only come as part of a genuine peace framework, which is currently sorely lacking.

Seeing the reactions to this movie in the Tel Aviv Cinemateque however provided some pause for hope. On Bishop Desmond Tutu’s final words – that the TRC is based on the premise that it is possible for people to change, and that one day that change will come to Israel and Palestine – the cinema erupted in applause. As Robi herself took to the stage, this applause turned into a standing ovation.

Peace may be difficult to imagine, but this brave and inspiring film puts the process in a global, historical context that helps us glimpse what might be possible. It happened in South Africa after nearly fifty years of Apartheid and 200 years of white rule. It happened in Rwanda after nearly a million Tutsis were murdered in just 100 days. So, as the audience left Cinemateque 3 and walked back into Tel Aviv’s streets, we were left with one challenging question; if reconciliation can happen there, under those circumstances, then why not here?

This post was originally published on the Urban Times on 8th May

Why you need to look out of the window

So I’m on this flight from London to Tel Aviv. It’s a budget affair and frankly I don’t think I’m the only one whose adrenaline levels have gone through the roof in the fight to get on the plane, squeeze my somewhat oversized ‘hand luggage’ into the overhead locker and bag a coveted window seat.

As soon as the stewardess gives us the required permission, everyone unfolds ipads/laptops and plugs in ear phones, killing time til we touch down. I’m one of them. I’m looking at the clock and wondering how many episodes of Sherlock I can squeeze in before we actually reach Ben Gurion.

At some point over Turkey – and a good 4.5 hours into the flight – I look out of the window for, I think, the first time since take off. This is what I see…

1. The one that looks like snowy mountains

2. The one that looks like dinosaurs

3. The one that looks like a flying saucer

4. The one of the sunset

We were flying! Like, ABOVE THE CLOUDS!!

Is this not frickin’ incredible to us anymore? What’s WRONG with us?!

That is all.