‘Utterly Vile’

September 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

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My verdict on the verdict for Ilham Tohti is on the Dissent blog.

Previous piece on Tohti here

Blind Dating in Bishkek

September 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

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The autumn issue of The Dublin Review has a long tale of the joys and sorrows (more of those) of trying to do internet dating in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Suffice to say, no weddings are currently planned.

It begins thus:

September is the perfect month for dating in Bishkek. The intense heat of the Kyrgyz summer has passed, but the days are still bright and warm. In the evening you can eat outside, then stroll through the park, without feeling the slightest chill.

Before I travelled to Bishkek, I’d been living in London for six months, and despite the many possibilities of the place I was in a dating rut. We went to the British Film Institute or the Hackney Picturehouse. We spoke sometimes of Mad Men, sometimes of Breaking Bad, always of Game of Thrones. We were witty and cutting and sometimes we kissed but even after three drinks, with our eyes shut, our tongues entwined, we remained urbane. We were youngish, smart professionals. We were polished stones.

My initial reasons for visiting Kyrgyzstan’s capital had nothing to do with dating. I wanted to do a report on a clinic that treated drug addiction by putting its patients into comas. I had nothing else planned, and knew no one in Bishkek. Three days before I was due to leave, I was checking OkCupid – not with any real conviction, more out of pathetic habit – and saw I had a message from a fifty-six-year-old woman in Uzbekistan. ‘Good face!’ she wrote, which was nice of her, but alas I had no plans to visit Tashkent. It did, however, make me wonder if OkCupid had any English-speaking women in Bishkek on its site.

 

Australia scraps its carbon tax because the weather isn’t getting hotter there or something

July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

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More here. By me.

What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘the Uyghurs’

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Back street in Urumqi, September 2013

Back street in Urumqi, September 2013

Firstly, apologies to Raymond Carver for being yet another desecrator of his great title.

Secondly- this is the title of my latest piece on Xinjiang, which is in the Summer issue of Dissent mag.

The Death of Old Kashgar

January 17, 2014 § 2 Comments

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I went back to Kashgar, in southern Xinjiang, in September last year for the first time in 13 years. In 2000 it was a place that I was sorry to leave; I didn’t feel the same this time. More words and pictures about that can be found at Unmapped, a new travel magazine that’s publishing the kinds of pieces that are in short supply: well-written, insightful reports from places that the news agenda doesn’t seem concerned about.

To tweet or not to tweet?

November 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

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My piece on being a politically engaged writer (or not) is now up at CITSEE.eu

In Balykchy

October 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

My first dispatch from Kyrgyzstan is now up on the London Review of Books Blog

Here are some other photos of the town:

 

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Afghan War memorial

 

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