Selected Writing

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BODLEY HEAD/FT ESSAY PRIZE WINNER: CASH AND CURRY

A quest across India during the recent cash crisis, searching for divine truth and the perfect curry. This journey of discovery muses on the love of food, various incarnations of godliness, the power of belief and the true meaning of value. Winner of the 2016 Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize. 

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I WENT TO PARIS'S LEAST VISITED NEIGHBOURHOOD - HERE'S WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY

"I wanted to be a tourist in the most authentic bit of Paris. So I caught a train." 

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VÉLIBERTÉ, EGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ

"Ten years ago, Vélib revolutionised Paris and inspired the world. But a new operator, higher prices and a hi-tech competitor have shaken its confidence."

 
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THE SEINE ALSO RISES

"For several days now, the Seine has been drawing a crowd. The international press, tourists and Parisians have come to look at the river because it is uncharacteristically high. Before I had seen it myself, I assumed the reason for all the curiosity was novelty. We’ve been told that the chances of the river breaking its banks are extremely low, but Paris can so easily be mistaken for a city frozen in time that changes in its landscape, even temporary ones, ask to be witnessed."

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RACEY PUBLIC ART EXPOSES PARIS'S INVISIBLE BORDERS

"This week, after a social-media barrage declared it obscene, officials refused to install a sculpture called Domestikator in the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre. The same piece was then accepted by, and set up outside, the Pompidou, a contemporary-art museum less than a mile down the road."

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BUTCHERING LONDON

"There are four days until Christmas. It has just gone six in the morning, I’m in the heart of the City of London, and I’m wondering: How do you tell a good quality pig’s head from a bad one?" Featured in Best Food Writing 2016. 

 
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THE COMPANY OF WOLVES

"From the train, it is hard to tell where Paris ends and the countryside begins, but there is enough frozen farmland and forest around Rambouillet to stir in me a childish thrill as I travel south-west out of the city. I am a solitary figure, arriving in a sleepy French town in the midwinter chill, hunting for wolves."

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WE CAN HONESTLY SAY WE HAVE NEVER WANTED TO GO TO TURIN SO BADLY

"Italy has more grape varieties than all the rest of the world put together, the sommelier told me. She was not speaking in a professional capacity, but as a fellow drinker. We were sitting in Caffe Vini, on a cobbled backstreet of Turin, and I thought how this working men’s bar—its walls crowded with wine bottles, all from Piedmont, few costing more than 1.50 euros a glass, no two the same—was the ideal place to learn such a fact."

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IN DEFENSE OF BAD FRENCH COFFEE

"It’s the bit of trivia I share more than any other: that France’s former colonial ties mean that over half the country’s coffee is still made from the lower quality Robusta beans. It forms part of my response to a common complaint visitors have about the French capital. Australians are the worst. As a friend’s brother from Sydney once memorably put it: 'Lovely city, mate, but the coffee’s shithouse!'"

 
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GREYHOUND COUNTRY

The Greyhound bus service in the United States has decent claim to being one of the worst travel networks anywhere on Earth. Journeys are interminably long, comforts are rudimentary, and a sense of real danger constantly pervades; it’s not even cheap. But there are few experiences that bring you closer to the American soul.

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WE GET THE POLITICIANS AND THE BLAND CUPS OF COFFEE WE DESERVE

Founded in 1971 as a London-based wholesale coffee bean supplier, Costa has grown to become the second largest coffeehouse chain in the world. It boasts over 3,000 stores across 31 countries. All this, despite offering what I can only describe as a quite staggeringly mediocre experience.

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STONE CIRCLES: AN ENGLISH PILGRIMAGE

There are over 1,300 neolithic stone circles located across the British Isle. Their original purpose lost to prehistory, people across all ages have attributed ancient legends to them and ascribed them spiritual meaning. This lack of information, also makes them a blank slate for the tourist: it is up to the sight-seer to decide what aspect of stone circles is worth seeing.

 
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HOW TO CATCH A CAT KILLER

A serial pet-murderer is terrorising London’s suburbs, brutally slaughtering hordes of defenceless kitties. A pair of amateur private detectives is determined to crack the case.

HOUSES OF SWEAT AND STEAM: THE HAMMAMS OF NORTH PARIS

Paris is one of the great multicultural centres the world, a fact ignored almost as much by its visitors as its citizens. A trip to the famous hammams of the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood is the perfect way to see the city in a different light.

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TWO VERSIONS OF THE WOLF

This is the story of a warrior and a killer. Probably. It is definitely the story of a storyteller. It is an exploration of memory and writing set, respectively, in the pages of a notebook, on the hot streets of Dubrovnik, and during the internecine strife of the Bosnian War. It is about a man who called himself The Wolf.