is a small hotel on the Via della Penna,
just around the corner from the Piazza del Popolo, right in the centre of Rome.
It has a modest entrance
and ancient birdcage lifts.
The Art Deco details are a little faded
as is the cozy old salon.
But the Locarno has long been the favoured haunt of writers, film-makers and artists. Moravia frequented it as did Pasolini. The writer Alain Elkann
has even written a book about the hotel.
Flipping through a few pages of the guest book I saw, in quick succession, the names of the physicist Carlo Rubbia (Nobel, 1984), the directors Abel Ferrara and Wes Anderson; actors Colin Firth, John Turturro and Adrian Brody; and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Shireen Ebadi.
The Locarno is one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever been in: unpretentious, friendly and very lively in the evenings.
This is the seat of one of Bengal’s oldest zamindaris. The grounds are right in the crowded heart of Kidderpore, which is a blessing in a way, for it makes the place very difficult to find.
Many Bhojpuri-speaking people live in the surrounding area and the atmosphere is reminiscent of Benares. Outside Kidderpore very few people seem to know about the Bhukailash Rajbari.
Hangzhou, the capital of China’s Zhejiang Province, is a city of legendary beauty. In China it is often said: ‘In heaven there is Paradise; on Earth Suzhou and Hangzhou.’ It is with some trepidation that one visits such a place for the possibilities of disappointment are legion. But Hangzhou does not disappoint: its famous West Lake presents a spectacle of serene, haunting beauty.
Some of China’s greatest poets have frequented the lake’s islands, and their lines are inscribed upon some of the rocks.
Hangzhou is vast and much of it is featureless in the way of many modern cities. But the West Lake redeems everything else: the area around it must count as one of the most beautiful urban environments in the world.
Bawmra Jap is, in my view, one of the finest and most inventive chefs in the world. He is ethnically a Kachin from northern Burma, but he left the country after his marriage to his British-Iranian wife, Mariam, and trained as a chef in London. His restaurant, Bomra’s, in Candolim, Goa, is unpretentious and welcoming, but it consistently serves some of the best food anywhere. His style is unclassifiable: it is perhaps best described as South-East-Asian-inflected modern cuisine. Some of his great dishes are: pickled tea leaf salad, crisp-fried sardines, pomelo salad, pork belly and Kachin chicken. His warm chocolate cake is better than any I’ve had in New York, London, New Delhi – anywhere in fact.
I don’t know how he does it; I’m just glad he does.
One of the most beatiful temples in the world. In those days, it was deep in the jungle, with the Khmer Rouge swarming about and mines scattered over the grounds.
Le Morne Brabant marks the south-western corner of Mauritius. It is a World Heritage Site, for reasons that are explained at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Morne_Brabant