By anitasethi, 04-May-2013 10:35:00
By Elizabeth Bishop
Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?
An extract of this poem "Questions of Travel" forms the epigraph to the fascinating new book by Amit Chaudhuri, "Calcutta", and is also the title of a new novel by Michelle de Kretser, which I'm looking forward to reading.
This photograph was taken in the Alpujarras mountains of Spain.
By anitasethi, 04-Apr-2013 11:58:00
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
In this cruellest month, be kind to yourself and read some great books - The Waste Land is a good place to start. So far this year I've been lucky enough to read a wide range of wonderful stories with settings spanning the globe including Japan, Calcutta, Canada, St Petersburg, New York, Israel, from 1920s America to 19th century Russia.
Below is a selection of interviews, reviews, columns and features I've written this year for The Observer, The Guardian, New Statesman, The Age / Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, the Times Literary Supplement, The White Review and the Herald.
As it would take me until 2014 to write in individual links, you can find links to these pieces on my Twitter feed @anitasethi.
Interview with Ruth Ozeki
Interview with Amit Chaudhuri
Interview with Marjorie Celona
Interview with Jane Birkin
"Mimi" by Lucy Ellmann
"Notes from Underground" by Dostoyevsky
"Z" by Therese Anne Fowler
"All the Way" by Marie Darrieussecq
"The People of Forever Are Not Afraid"
"Snake Ropes" by Jess Richards
"Love's Creation" by Marie Stopes
"Seeking a home away from home - and away from racism"
Observations: Generation Rent
By anitasethi, 20-Feb-2013 14:00:00
I've been peripatetic for a while which means not being able to take things with me wherever I go but travel lightly, which is partly the joy of being able to have a 'home in cyberspace', a website which is a 'still point in the turning world', as it were, and - depending on your service provider - it's a lot less hassle to store things in cyberspace than in some gloomy morgue-like lock-up. Sifting through my non-virtual storage space a little while ago, thinking what to keep and what to discard, my signed copies are definitely a few of my most precious things. If I could, I would take my books with me wherever I go, but as that's not possible, here's a reminder of why, in an age of type, where we are Arial or Times New Roman or Garamond, sometimes nothing is more delightful than good old handwriting. [click the covers].
By anitasethi, 30-Jan-2013 04:14:00
1 minute 50 seconds in Sydney: click here: adventures at the Opera House, Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art and reminiscing on first arriving at the Opera House after a 15000 mile overland journey on the Hippie Trail.
By anitasethi, 18-Dec-2012 14:00:00
It’s not every day that somebody rings the bell of my room door to hand me the weather on a gold-patterned card. I glance down at the card which bears the quote: "There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of 'good' weather - John Ruskin, English writer and art critic”. It also explains that Melbourne is renowned for having four seasons in one day. It is this unpredictability that is, of course, part of its charm. The weather tomorrow, as predicted by those in the meteorological know, will be 23 degrees c and cloudy.
The chocolate-coloured Yarra River laps below me, running alongside Melbourne’s landmarks of the sun-coloured Flinders Street Station and the futuristic silvery Federation Square (at least, these landmarks appear sun-coloured and silvery from my vantage point high above). I’m in the Club River Room in The Langham Hotel, 21 floors above ground level, and from here there is a glorious view of Melbourne; my perspective of the city is refracted as I gaze from on high at those buildings which, during the day, I have been craning my neck up to see. At sunset the river is blood-red, at night, glittering black under moonlight. The wide window lets in generous light during the day. The Club Lounge a few floors above also offers fantastic views and I gaze out at the city whilst devouring oysters and sipping champagne. The room itself has an elegant design and colour-scheme, with reading chair, sofa, writing desk, marble-bathroom, and there is also a jacuzzi, spa and pool. Adorning the wall are several framed pictures including a historic view of the city.
Come rain or shine, what a tourist who’s been ‘sans pillow’ for a few days needs is a decent night’s sleep, and it’s with some joy, then, that I regard the six pillows and cushions neatly propped up on the capacious bed.
The Langham Hotel is in the convenient location of the SouthBank, with the restaurant-lined river literally on the doorstep so it’s a pleasure the next day to stroll along - and thankfully the weather prediction was wrong: far from being cloudy, the sun is shining in abundance.
For more information on The Langham Hotel, Melbourne, click here: melbourne.langhamhotels.com.au
By anitasethi, 11-Nov-2012 12:00:00
The title of this column is inspired by the eponymous novel by Ali Smith.
Adventures in London
My latest dispatch as writer/blogger-in-residence at Tunes Hotel, London
Hotel review: Tunes Hotel, Grays Inn Road
It’s not often that I find myself contemplating the heavens when passing through King’s Cross station, but rather rushing as quickly as possible to my destination. Recently, though, I found myself craning my neck heavenwards regarding the vast glassy canopy arching over the newly developed section in Kings Cross . Not only I, but several commuters could be seen gazing upwards at the newly designed station through which light filters in generous quantities throughout a previously rather dingy space; groggy commuters kept awake only by coffee were startled from half-slumber by the ambitious architecture. Indeed, the whole area is in a process of regeneration, and draws travellers far and wide to St Pancras station which is, of course, with the Eurostar, gateway to a multitude of cities and countries elsewhere.
On my final nights in London before my flight to Australia, I’m writer/blogger-in-residence at a new hotel, Tunes Hotel, in the convenient location of Grays Inn Road. It’s nearby in a row of buildings in which the shiny new and the traditional Victorian are juxtaposed. The room is the most capacious I’ve stayed in so far during my stint as blogger-in-residence, with the slick and minimalist design typical of the hotel, colour-coded strikingly throughout in red, black, and white. Pictures on the lobby walls flag up this specific area of London, and the welcoming lobby is also replete with 24 hour coffee and snack bar for those times that night owls or early birds could do with a little refreshment. When I unexpectedly need another night in London before my flight to Australia, there are thankfully still rooms available, which is handy as rooms in central London are usually booked up well in advance. As I wait to be checked in I gain a snapshot of the kind of people staying here - from travellers, to business people, to one lady who arrives late in the evening and has accidentally locked herself out of her nearby flat. The hotel has also been an excellent location, explains the manager, from which to take the pulse of ‘London, 2012’ as it has seen the ebb and flow of the influx of visitors into the city during and after the Olympics, actually picking up business in the weeks following, when the ‘ghost town’ started to fill with the throb of life again.
There are plenty of places to visit in the area surrounding Tunes Hotel, Grays Inn Road, from cultural to gastronomic delights. Kings Place, nearby the canal, has an excellent year-round programme of music and spoken word events, and the canal-side bar/restaurant Rotunda offers seats which gaze out over the waterways. On my penultimate night in London I stay at Tunes Hotel, Grays Inn Road and it’s a pleasure to be able to walk a brisk ten minutes on a clear Autumn evening to visit Exmouth Market for a party at Moro restaurant - a delicious evening of Colombian food, juices and rum, and music from Colombian band La Papayera at the launch of Michael Jacob’s excellent new book “The Robber of Memories” (published by Granta this month), a journey through the rivers of Colombia which also weaves hauntingly through memories of the past.
It’s also only a short tube ride to Oxford Street and Regent Street, and I spend my final night doing last minute tasks in shops in which the staff are definitely already in the Christmas spirit, and along which Christmas lights are now strung, reindeers and angels sparkling against the black sky.
All in all, I’ve had an excellent stay as blogger-in-residence at Tunes Hotel. The room has all the facilities you might need before preparing for a very long flight: power shower, bed comfy enough for a power nap, and enough plug sockets to power up for the next twenty-four hours flying between countries. The next morning, at the crack of dawn, I take the tube from Kings Cross station to Heathrow and board the plane, ready to fly from the Wintertime into Summertime on the other side of the world.
For more information on Tunes Hotel visit www.tunehotels.com / http://www.tunehotels.com/our-hotels/kings-cross-london
By anitasethi, 02-Nov-2012 00:00:00
My latest despatch as a hotel ‘writer/blogger-in-residence’ - this time from Tunes Hotel, Paddington. The title of this column, “Hotel World”, is inspired by the eponymous novel by Ali Smith.
"The greatest city in the world just got better" - so reads the sign on the red double-decker bus captured by a stroke of serendipity in this photograph of me at Tunes Hotel (scroll down). Having travelled in several continents in the earlier part of the year, it's been a pleasure to spend a bit of time in London. I've recently spent a few nights as 'hotel writer-in-residence' at various different locations in the city. London, fabled as the city 'where the streets are paved with gold' is notoriously expensive so it's great to see affordable places such as Tunes opening up.
* * *
Barges and boats on the London canal greet me as I step out of the tube at Paddington, London. The canal is a black slick of glittering water, gleaming under moonlight. Paddington, London, world famous for Paddington Bear. Paddington, home of one of the busiest train stations, where lives connect and divide.
I check into Tunes Hotel which is a short and pleasant walk from the tube station, and am handed my ‘goodie bag’ complete with delicious-smelling shampoo and conditioner, white, fluffy towel, and enjoy the ‘power shower’.
The room has pale grassy green walls with a white swirling pattern on it that is the shape of a great white dandelion, those dandelions that as a kid you’d try and catch and hold as you made a wish. The colour theme is a welcome hint of nature in the heart of the city. I’m on the fourth floor and it’s a blissfully quiet room: although the hotel is on a main road, the room is at the back, with can-barely-hear-a pin-drop silence. It’s a much-needed sanctuary from the swirl of the city outside.
Being on the top floor, with a wide window, generous autumn sun streams into the room in the morning, creating a light and airy feeling. After breakfast of cappuccino and an Eat Natural bar from the hotel Snack Bar, I go for a walk around the environs. Just a short walk away is Notting Hill.
Autumn is at its most beautiful, and the trees have turned burnished golden, amber, reds. It is delightful to simply stroll along the large, tree-lined avenues and squares and admire this sense of the changing seasons.
The area is filled with a range of restaurants and cafes; indeed strolling along there are multicultural offerings on Praed Street itself with one restaurant called The Ganges, another the Baghdad Cafe, and just opposite the hotel is a Greek restaurant. I opt for a healthy and delicious salad and an apple and elderflower juice and feel restored.
The double bed has bright-white sheets and is a relief to sink into after a busy day. There is also a wall to wall mirror above the bed and a full-length mirror on one wall, so there’s no excuse for looking scruffy the next day when I have an important lunch meeting. After three months living in a house with no television (great for getting plenty of writing done), I devour Michael Palin’s Brazil (transported thousands of miles to South America from Paddington!), The Culture Show, and Newsnight. Watching images of the storms in the US and hoping that friends across the pond are safe, I fall asleep in the comfy soft bed, grateful to be so snug and safe.
Next morning, I pick up a bunch of flowers from Paddington Station flower shop, beautiful deep orange and blood-red gerbera. Meanwhile, there’s no sign of Paddington Bear in the swirl of people, but I’ve had a lovely stay at Tunes Hotel, Paddington nonetheless.
For more information on Tunes Hotel click here.
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