I’ve spent 25 years living across the world, in 8 countries, on 3 continents. As a practiced peripatetic I have learned a thing or two about what makes some cultures tick a certain way, while others tock differently. In this “newsletter” I will write a short weekly essay on travel. I will discuss languages and foods; how different cultures “touch” differently and certainly smell different too.

I’ll be writing about some of the special places in the cities I have lived in from Beijing and Brussels to Jakarta and Tokyo. But whether I’m talking of palaces or toilets, I promise I’ll make you look at these cities with new lenses.

And I will investigate idiosyncrasies. Why do the Chinese only drink hot water? How come the Wahabi-esque former minister for religion in Muslim-majority Indonesia was called Suryadharma Ali? Why does Belgium rarely have a central government? And why are there no trashcans in Tokyo? I might even solve the mystery of what Indians mean whey they say they will “revert to you.”

I’ll write about immigrants: Sikh dairy farmers in Italy, Chinese wine barons in Bordeaux, beleaguered orthodox Jews in Antwerp and Sindhi soap opera producers in Indonesia. And most audaciously, I’ll be attempting do all this without boring you to death.

It’s a terrible time for traditional journalism, ie: the kind that makes you money. And I’m becoming older and grouchier and can’t always be bothered to pitch every piece to a dozen outlets with different space/style/financial constraints. If I’m going to be impecunious, I might as well do it on my own terms. And so I’ll be sending out my missives on substack and hoping that they miraculously find their way into your reading material for the day. Thanks ya’ll!

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Global travel, culture and politics


Pallavi Aiyar 

Pallavi Aiyar is an award winning foreign correspondent and author. She has reported from across China, Europe, Indonesia and Japan.