Like Mark Twain in ‘Innocents Abroad’, we went to the Holy Sepulchre

by Rashmee

Posted on December 18, 2019


  So, like Mark Twain in ‘Innocents Abroad’, we went to the Holy Sepulchre near Jerusalem’s western gate. Unlike Twain, we first stopped at The Garden Tomb, which is on Nablus Road, and no more than 15 minutes of uninterrupted walking time away from the Holy Sepulchre. There’s a reason Twain didn’t go to The … Continue reading “Like Mark Twain in ‘Innocents Abroad’, we went to the Holy Sepulchre”

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Donna Leon’s ‘Acqua Alta’ paints a pretty good picture of high waters in Venice

by Rashmee

Posted on November 13, 2019


I was at work today when I read about Venice under water, its walkable streets flooded, tables and chairs set out for touristy aperitifs bobbing along alleyways, and the gangways of hotels along the Grand Canal washed away. It’s the “acqua alta” or high waters, but an exceptionally intense one. This one has peaked at … Continue reading “Donna Leon’s ‘Acqua Alta’ paints a pretty good picture of high waters in Venice”

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Thomas Cook found the age of Empire easier than the age of Expedia

by Rashmee

Posted on September 23, 2019 / Quartz


Today, the head of the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority tried to put the collapse of Thomas Cook, the world’s oldest travel company, into context. Deirdre Hutton told the BBC that the 178-year-old company was “operating on brochures whereas everyone else has moved on to barcodes.” Is that really what caused Thomas Cook, after so many … Continue reading “Thomas Cook found the age of Empire easier than the age of Expedia”

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Toothrism and Albania. Heard the one about gnashers and Enver Hoxha?

by Rashmee

Posted on September 3, 2019


High times for Albania have nothing to do with its legendary marijuana trade. It was ‘The Fringe’, the weekly newsletter on emerging markets that sounded the alert some time ago: dental tourism, it said, was thriving in Albania, on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula. This sounded very strange. Albania has 700,000 bunkers – one for every four residents – … Continue reading “Toothrism and Albania. Heard the one about gnashers and Enver Hoxha?”

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Read between the lines of Orwell’s essay Marrakech. It remains relevant

by Rashmee

Posted on June 25, 2019


The Arablit blog and its companion BULAQ podcast, both which cast a keen eye on the Arab world through the lens of literature, recently tackled a touchy subject. They looked at the reality of poorly portrayed Muslim and Arab characters in film, TV and literature. All too often, they are unbelievable and poorly-researched but did … Continue reading “Read between the lines of Orwell’s essay Marrakech. It remains relevant”

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Missionary John Chau’s death shows that colonialist ideas of indigenous peoples are still with us

by Rashmee

Posted on November 28, 2018 / The National


There are startling echoes of Somerset Maugham’s 1921 short story “Rain” in the recent death of John Chau. “Rain” is about a proselytising American missionary on the islands of the Pacific. Chau died in an attempt to convert to Christianity a hunter-gatherer tribe on North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal. Both stories illustrate … Continue reading “Missionary John Chau’s death shows that colonialist ideas of indigenous peoples are still with us”

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Kairouan has magic and mystery and it’s on the map

by Rashmee

Posted on November 18, 2018 / The Arab Weekly


KAIROUAN, Tunisia — Tunisians boast that Kairouan, a couple of hours south by car from Tunis, is Islam’s fourth holiest city, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Perhaps. Ethiopians say the same of Harar. Both Kairouan and Harar are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both know Islam from its very first century. However, fourth holiest or not, Kairouan wins … Continue reading “Kairouan has magic and mystery and it’s on the map”

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Tozeur, lush and bountiful oasis in southern Tunisia

by Rashmee

Posted on June 2, 2018


Tozeur is a lush and bountiful oasis dotted with “palmeries” as they call them here. These are farms – of date palms. The more ingenious grow a great deal else too – pomegranates, figs, peaches, bananas and various vegetables. The oasis is enormous – and rich – fed by hot springs and carefully tended like … Continue reading “Tozeur, lush and bountiful oasis in southern Tunisia”

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Tozeur in southern Tunisia wears its storied history fairly lightly

by Rashmee

Posted on June 1, 2018


    Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, the 20th century poet whose style is admired throughout the Arab world and is responsible for the current Tunisian anthem, belonged to Tozeur. So did Ibn Chabbat, the 13th century engineer who built this oasis-city’s sophisticated, still-functioning irrigation system. The city has commemorated both men in stone. For Echebbi, whose poetry … Continue reading “Tozeur in southern Tunisia wears its storied history fairly lightly”

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Tunisia: ‘Menu Ramadanesque’ and other delights

by Rashmee

Posted on May 31, 2018


Ahead of iftar, when the day’s fast ends during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the streets are deathly quiet. In the Tunis Medina (see photographs), there’s hardly anyone abroad. Those same venues will be heaving by 9 pm. In the supermarkets, they start making the zalabiya, the deep-fried syrup-soaked sweets that are faintly reminiscent … Continue reading “Tunisia: ‘Menu Ramadanesque’ and other delights”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK