Pool, Bulls and Humanity

What does Mosul and the festival of San Fermin have in common? Humanity. A photograph I saw recently on Twitter (the featured photo above), of a group of Mosul residents, including children, playing pool in a recently liberated district of Mosul where IS previously forbade pool, filled me with that rarest of elements: hope. Hope…

5 Lessons Learned After Running Away From Toledo

  Ever notice the apathy on the faces of people who say, about a holiday, or an experience, even a marriage: “Been there, done that?” No one says that to brag or celebrate; it’s dry sarcasm meant to topple and politely insult. I was never one for clichés. I don’t like tired expressions. And yet,…

Madrid: Salsa and Tacos

    Madrid has been described as the most Spanish of cities – a capital who, like a mother, gives up her own identity and ambition for the sake of her children. There are very little things you could call Madrileño. Maybe churros, the callos de Madrid, cocido Madrileño and a few other dishes. For…

Travel Essay on Chiaroscuro Writing

  The Gran Via, the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol – these are places that dwarf you, make you feel like an ant standing at the threshold of the cosmos. It’s not just their size that makes you feel miniscule; it is their splendour, the regality, the life and living they can host, coliseums of…

Little and Often: Eating in Madrid

  Coming from a Maltese gastronomic culture good food for me means good portions. Seldom do you go to a Maltese restaurant and feel like you’re climbing a proverbial Everest. Upon leaving you notice the rest of the diners loosening their belt, huffing like a pregnant woman, and drinking copious amount of digestifs-cum-grenades. So to…

Hardcore Writers no. 2 Joan Salvat-Papasseit

                                               Catalan Futurist: Joan Salvat-Papasseit     Politics and literature often go hand in hand. This isn’t something to be ashamed of. That is, so long as the art is the preliminary, gut-desire…

Spanish Streets and the Meaning of Life

    Calle del Principe, Madrid   Look up, look up Above the regiment of shops.   Look up into the balconies, Introverted like a snail withdrawn. There is no wind, no rain, no sun, Inside the balconies Men are gods without knowing, Divinity by accident, no: By hard work! ‘Come to Madrid, little one,…

Three Odes, Three Dishes

Ode to Pho   Among the market stalls You lunged towards me Like an octopus in the deep dark, Among the market stalls, A universe of complexity Yet still a singularity; From this bowl, It all bangs outwards.   Foaming like the sea, A primordial broth, Made by hands that In your caress Have forgotten…

Travel Essay on Sisyphean Happiness

  “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” The quote from Albert Camus’ essay on The Myth of Sisyphus comes to my mind as I walk down the hill leading up to the Alhambra to get my camera from the hotel. An old shoe-shine stops me and asks me if I needed my shoes shined. My shoes…

Travel Essay on Madrid and Writing

  ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.’ The Biblical phase ran through my un-Biblical mind as I walked under the arcades of the Plaza Mayor and saw the lines of men asleep in grey sleeping bags sheltering from the February rain. They had long beards, their clothes overwhelmed them, hiding their shame, wiping out their…

Travel Essay on Happiness

Sitting on an old bronze fountain looking out across the Plaza de la Virgen of Valencia I look at the dawn-runners, people going to work, riding the bus, having a coffee on the steps of the square, and I want to ask them all if they are as happy as I am. Of course, it…

Valencia Streetscapes

Walking, strolling, exploring the urban Barrios of Valencia one discovers a homely city ready to claim anyone’s inspiration. It was said of Buenos Aires that there are fairies dwelling in the streets called Duende that cast a spell on you and ensure you always return. Valencia has its own Duende fairies and they hover and…