Pico Iyer Journeys

The Global City

Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk takes the pundit’s dry talk of a “clash of civilizations” and gives it a human face, turns it on its head and sends it spinning wildly. In his early novel, The White Castle, a Venetian slave and his Ottoman master swap clothes, exchange ideas and squabble like siblings till soon you can no […]

Istanbul – City of the Future

On sofas overlooking the lights of the city, salon-tanned kids stretched out before a blue-lit cocktail bar—not to be confused with the espresso bar (offering tiramisu) in another corner or the regular popcorn counter serving up Pepperidge Farm cookies and tubs of Häagen-Dazs. It took me a while to realize that these glamorous teenagers weren’t […]

The Man, The Men, at the Station

I got off the overnight train in Mandalay, Burma’s historical city of kings, and instantly there was a swarm of men around me. They were hard for me to tell apart, most of them dressed in white shirts, with wrap-around longhis around their waists, many of them wild-eyed and unshaven after spending all night in […]

A Day in the Life of the Marvelous, Desperate City

By eight in the morning, the crowds are already beginning to form, huffing and puffing along the gorgeous strip of coastline that curves around Ipanema’s two miles of beach. Old old men in thongs and bathing trunks, wrinkled women in their two-piece swimsuits, power-walkers jutting their elbows back and forth as they waddle along the […]

The Global City

Here are a few statistics from Suketu Mehta’s stunning new book, Maximum City. In some parts of Bombay, you can find 1 million people in a single square mile. Two millon of the city’s residents lack access to latrines, and the air has ten times the maximum permissible levels of lead (to breathe it in, […]

When Centuries Collide

In Shanghai, just behind the area where elderly couples gather each day at dawn to go through the ghostly motions of Tai Chi, cranes are busy erecting the world’s tallest building, to go with the tallest tower in Asia and the largest department store on the continent. In downtown Toronto, on a jam-packed sidewalk, a […]

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