Notes from the field

Our work takes us all over the world. Here we share some of our more personal perspectives on some of the destinations we have visited, filed on location.


Azerbaijan – Life between the world’s two most sanctioned countries

Azerbaijan has long been proud of its position as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Its food, architecture, and fashion are testament to the mixing pot of cultures found at the heart of modern Baku. more >

Ecuador - the writing’s on the wall?

In most countries, graffiti is associated with either underground movements or the boredom of youth. In Ecuador, however, it is a legitimate medium for mainstream political discussion. It has the air of desperation, as if all other channels have failed, with endorsements and denouncements of all parties found at the side of major roads. more >

Algeria - business as usual

Algeria has been long regarded as a sleeping giant. Despite having the largest landmass in Africa, abundant natural resources and a population of 45 million, most of which lives near the Mediterranean coast in close proximity to Europe, Algeria attracts few visitors and receives little coverage, at least in the anglophone press. more >

Uzbekistan: entrenched loyalties

Borgaz, the taxi driver ferrying me from Samarkand to Tashkent, is a bear of a man. His warm smile and infectious laugh make companionship easy. Born and raised in Samarkand, Borgaz has never left. Although fluent, Borgaz’s Russian is littered with grammatical mistakes. He laughs that his wife scolds him for speaking Russian badly to the eldest of his four children. Borgaz admits that his own Russian sounds uneducated. more >

Border crossings

It’s clear that you’re entering a frontier state the moment you get to the Romanian-Moldovan border. A queue several kilometres long of cars, mostly with Ukrainian registration plates, waits to be let through by Moldovan border control; their interim destination is Romania but ultimately most are trying to reach Germany, Ireland or the UK. more >

Lebanon’s turmoil

Beirut’s banks are in the eye of a storm. In and around the city centre, the epicentre of a months-long protest over economic mismanagement, some branches have been daubed with graffiti, others have had their windows and ATMs smashed. They are so short of hard currency that informal capital controls have been imposed, infuriating customers desperate for dollars. more >

You say Moldovan, I say Romanian..

Not long ago, while visiting my parents in Chisinau, I searched my mother’s bookshelves for a Jack London novel that I wanted to show my wife, a Russian native speaker. The book was in Cyrillic, a relic of pre-independence Moldova, then part of the Soviet Union. I eventually found it and handed it to my wife, who looked puzzled. No wonder. The text was written in Moldovans’ native language. more >

Sarajevo’s balancing act

Late October in Sarajevo, and the Bosnian capital is a far cry from the bustling tourist centre it becomes during the summer months, when large groups of travellers from Gulf countries arrive to escape their countries’ oppressive heat. more >

Latvia seeks to rebuild tarnished banking reputation

Riga is a city of contrasts. Its gleaming office blocks, sleek airport and western hotel chains speak of the strides it has made since breaking away from the former Soviet Union in the early 90s – a confidence driven in no small part by thriving tourism, one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. more >

Beirut experiences controversial facelift

Although it is summer and the high season, there is an eeriness about Beirut’s city centre shopping arcades. The fashionable boutiques feature top international brands, yet but for the odd smattering of well-heeled shoppers, the stores appear largely devoid of customers. Nearby gleaming office blocks likewise seem bereft of activity. And some of the area’s glittering new apartment complexes also look distinctly vacant. more >

 1 2 3 >  Last ›