Combat breathing

Type
Essay
Category
Kashmir
War

Kashmir is a tourist retreat in an occupied land. Every year, as the monsoon rolls across India, bringing with it both soaring temperatures and pounding rain, the county’s elite escape to the overwhelming beauty of the Kashmir Valley. These two realities – Kashmir as a haven for holidaymakers and a warzone for locals – remain remarkably separate, so much so that when one invades the other the effect can jar, like a jolt of absolute reality.

HAfshar_Robertson
HAfshar_Curley
Type
Essay
Category
Cambodia
Television

That bird is for us

I read in the Cambodia Daily that Survivor has wrapped up filming on Koh Rong, in the Gulf of Thailand, so I go to see for myself. It’s July, the wet season; by midday the sky is a silvery purple that deepens until it bursts in the late afternoon. I picture a barely inhabited oasis, rugged and poised, the kind of island I mentally synthesise when in bed watching Survivor, but with the remnants of a major US game show – discarded fibreglass reproductions of Angkor devas, a neat circle of attractive stones around a pile of ash.

HAfshar_1 (true black)
Type
Essay
Category
ecology
fire

The fire cult

But for decades, palaeontologists have been trying to hose down myths around firestick farming. UNSW Associate Professor Scott Mooney, who led a 2010 study of charcoal records across Australia dating back 70,000 years, told the ABC: ‘The firesticks are definitely in the colonisers’ hands, not the original inhabitants.’ Whitefellas, he explained, have ‘imagined the past’.

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Type
Column
Category
Language

On the forgetting cupboard

There is a word I love in Italian for which there is no equivalent in English: dimenticatoio, the place for things you want to forget, or have forgotten already. You might say, for instance, that an old, cherished custom has ended up in the dimenticatoio, a concept you would likely render in English with the phrase ‘has fallen into oblivion’.

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