Dateline Havana: Hotel Inglaterra

You stand in the grand lobby – gilded, ornate – waiting for the lift-doors to open. Off to your right, behind the wrought-iron grille, a pair of well-heeled diners sip at their coffee, eyeing the menu, while an unctuous waiter in starched shirt glides by. At any moment the lift will arrive and Bogart will step out, a laughing…

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Slipping back into the moment

Coming home to South Africa is like slipping into old clothes, and I have been wearing these familiar garments for a week now. Hard to think (I wrote this on Thursday) that it is barely a week since I left Toronto. The most joyous part has been reconnecting with my daughters, and their husbands, and…

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Grand tourer

One way to see Havana – to take in the major sights, get a feel, so to speak, for the lay of the land – is to take a ride in one of the fifties convertibles pictured in this image. Gaudy, romantic, gas-guzzling, polluting, they are the perfect expression of a particular version of the city. Other…

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Tears, but the good kind

I woke this morning to the birds calling and whistling in the high trees outside and in the garden, the light streaming through the window, the air cool and damp after last night’s thunderstorm. You don’t hear birds much, in Toronto, certainly not at this time of year, not even in summer. I am here,…

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Au revoir Toronto

What better way to say au revoir Toronto than with three big XXXs in the sky above Roncies? Toronto, and Canada, have been good to me, and to us: I will miss our friends, and the weather, and the frolicking by the seaside and on the high mountains – wait, oops, that would be Cape…

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Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana

Nuevo Vedado, Havana. It is New Year’s Day, 2017. We drift towards wakefulness, in the blue room at our casa particular or homestay, on a raft of sound. The ring of a bucket as it’s set down on concrete. A man’s voice, and a woman’s, greeting the new year in Spanish. Water splashing, a dog…

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Connecting to outreach and mutually update

Once a year, dear Lucy Kellaway of the FT, bless her heart, offers scalding remedies for obfuscation and verbiage, the debasement of the language. The fauna of her verbal forest live, unfortunately, in the uplands of business, or else a thin-skinned, orange-haired ‘nasty man’ would surely – surely? – have taken the biscuit – and…

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From Havana, with astonishment

Havana is like no other place I have been to, too layered, complex, brave, catastrophic – too much human experience compacted into one decaying, living, breathing city – to write about or photograph easily. And now that we are back in safe, sane, organized, clean Toronto, we are back also in the mode of ‘planification’…

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