It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was warm on our backs. We stood on the roof veranda looking down on the dusty streets. A soft breeze was blowing which barely stirred the tangle of electricity and telephone wires that were draped between the houses in this relatively wealthy suburb of Bhilwara, Rajasthan. Each house was painted in different pastel shades of blue, green and peach and set against an azure sky. It was quiet and the roads were almost empty.
If every country needs a poet, then Kosovo’s was Ali Podrimja. The whole country mourned when, on a midsummer’s day two years ago, the lifeless body of the poet was found in a forest miles away from the small French town of Lodève. His death was attributed to dehydration. There were no signs of violence and nothing to indicate it was a suicide. Podrimja, who was in town for a festival of Mediterranean poetry, had disappeared days before.
When was the last time you saw a movie in a theatre? I’ve been three times in the past four days. Typically I don’t go quite that often, but in my mind the cinema pass is one of the best French inventions ever. For €20 (£15.97) per month I can see as many movies as I want [in UGC/MK2 cinemas around town], and there are a lot: over 500 in France — as well as La Pagode (a cinema in an old pagoda) and Luxor (an Egyptian cinema).
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Published in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)