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Hillsborough and me

In a few weeks’ time, a couple I have been friends with for the best part of 20 years will be holding a bat mitzvah for their daughter. Anyone who knows even a little about Judaism will know the importance of the event: a celebration for a girl reaching 12, and a great excuse for

What India does for Britain

Was it the sumptuous leather armchairs? Or the perfect teacups? Or the toothsome selection of custard creams and ginger nuts? I have never sat in a more quintessentially English workplace than the London office of Tata, India’s largest conglomerate. Travellers to India often remark that many Indians love British culture more than Brits do. Where

A passage to India

When my parents emigrated from India in the 1960s, they sought what might be called the ‘-British dream’: stability, opportunity and the chance of a better life in the world’s third-largest economy. So when I told my parents that I was moving to India for the same sort of reasons, they were shocked. India may

24 hours in Tulsa

Oklahoma will always be a red state on the political map, but the colour goes deeper than that. Everything here was red: red earth, red brick, red dust, red rust. At Little Sahara State Park, 1,600 geologically anomalous acres of iron-rich sand dunes were pinky-orange, the colour of thousand-island dressing. The sitcom Friends had a

Millionaires’ playground

‘If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.’ Well, Mark Twain, I waited a couple of days and I liked the weather a lot: bright blue skies, warm sun and a cooling breeze off the Atlantic during a September weekend in Newport, Rhode Island. Two days is not long

City that never pales

Ooh, sir! Do you? At your age, sir? Well, yes. Revolting though it may seem, I still love New York. Every time I go there — as I did earlier this month — I fear I am not going to like it, but every time I fall in love all over again. I think it

Holidays from hell

Everyone thinks travel writing is a doddle. You soak up the sun for a couple of weeks and when you get home the words pour forth, dazzling the reader with wish-I-was-there images. Then you sit back and wait for the cheque to drop through the letterbox while planning your next safari or walk in the

Banking like it’s 1999

Ten years ago next week, the tech-heavy Nasdaq stock exchange hit its lowest point ever, as the dotcom crash shuddered to an excruciating conclusion. With Facebook shares now approaching half their May offer price and debate raging over the role of banks in society, this is a good time to ask what we learnt from

Labour’s lady in waiting

Harriet Harman’s office reflects her status as the grande dame of British politics. Ensconced in a corner of Portcullis House, she enjoys two of the finest views in London, over both the Palace of Westminster itself and Parliament Square. As she ushers me in, the imposing effect is only spoiled by the fact that the

Très difficile

François Hollande is nothing if not a traditionalist. French governments of the left usually come to office promising to reject austerity and pursue a holy grail of growth, only to hit the buffers of economic reality on election. In 1936, the Popular Front sought to overturn the orthodoxy of its predecessors after the Great Slump

The friends Rushdie forgot

One hundred pages into his absorbing new memoir, written entirely in the third person, Salman Rushdie declares that ‘Friendship had always been of great importance to him,’ since so much of his life had been spent separated, physically and emotionally, from his own family. ‘Friends,’ writes Rushdie, ‘were the family one chose.’ The conceit of


Japan Notebook

Some time around the middle of the last decade, Japan’s population began to shrink. The disappearing act has continued unabated: at the present rate of decline, this remarkable mono-cultural race will have all but become extinct within a hundred years. Worth a visit then, while stocks last: so I gratefully accepted an invitation from the