Backpacking in Varanasi, India

In Varanasi, among the 2000 or so temples, is a charity-run hostel – Mukti Bhavan (‘Salvation House’) – where the guests come to die. The room tariff includes the wood for the funeral pyre.
To be clear, this isn’t a centre for suicide. Not an Indian version of Dignitas, the Swiss one-stop-shop for euthanasia. The very old and very sick come here, when death is imminent.

Quitting university. Arriving in India as a backpacker

Age 22, I wrote a letter to my future self. In a moment of transcendent clarity, I committed my thoughts to paper so I could look back and remember that feeling. It was as if I’d been driving through a dimly lit, noisy tunnel. Coming out of the other side into silence. Sunlight. Sweet relief.

Life with a Brachial Plexus Injury: protecting your good arm

You’re unaware your arm is resting up against a boiling kettle. The skin is burning but you can’t feel it. When and how do you realise? When you smell your skin crisping up like pork crackling?