Category: Features

The rail that ‘belongs to all Muslims’

Opened in 1908 from Damascus to Medina, the Hejaz Railway was built to bring the Ottoman Empire closer together. Much has changed, but the line continues to entrance travellers today. Located on the side of a dusty road, Amman’s Hejaz Railway station is easy to miss. To get there, you...

So Many Names of Breads

Having customers order a ‘toasted teacake’ in the West Yorkshire sandwich shop where I worked as a teenager wasn’t unusual, yet even this simple request always necessitated a follow-up question: ‘plain or currant?’. While to me a ‘teacake’ naturally implies a plain, savoury bread roll, most of the country outside...

The birthday party that went wrong

It all began with a birthday. On Saturday 23 June, Peerapat “Night” Sompiangjai turned 17 – a milestone most young people around the world would want to celebrate in style. Night was out with his friends, the other members of local youth football team the Wild Boars, and their assistant...

Countries That Set the World Culture

Global influence is often measured by military, political or economic might, but for some countries, it’s the strength of the culture – its food, fashion or entertainment – that most strongly impacts the wider world. These culturally influential countries were recently ranked by U.S. News and World Report, based on factors...

A Taste for Haste

On a recent evening at Ttobagi Driver’s Restaurant in Seoul’s Gwanak District, I surreptitiously started a timer upon placing my order. The waitress strolled off in a leisurely fashion, returning with kimchi and other side dishes just two minutes and 20 seconds later. One and half minutes after that, a...

The Dangerous Diseases Lurking Underground

It’s over. Against all odds, 12 boys and their football coach have dived, waded, climbed, and walked their way out of Tham Luang cave, a sprawling labyrinth of underground tunnels that has kept them prisoner for the last 17 days. They’ve been taken to the nearby Chiang Rai hospital to recover...

Turn a Bad Day Around

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” – Henry David Thoreau “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson   Some days are great, better than you would have expected when you rolled...

Europe’s Nation of Introverts

In a comic book produced by the organisation Latvian Literature for the recent London Book Fair, the main character gives a rare smile on realising that the weather outside is perfect. That is, it’s heavily snowing, and thus he’s unlikely to meet anyone out on the roads. As he says, “below zero...

Spotting the Rogue Fishing Boats

The next time you cook a fish or order some seafood at a restaurant, think about the image of a world map identifying all the fishing boats around the worldr. There are such snapshot of all the fishing happening on the ocean over a six-month period. If you zoomed in,...

The New Lighter Race for Space

The near future: tourists peer excitedly out of portholes far above the Earth, entranced by the sight of the starry blackness above and the curved blue horizon below. However, this is not a spacecraft, but a ‘near-space balloon’. It was launched from Mongolia, not Houston. And the tourists are Chinese....

Are we ready for the deadly heat waves?

When days and nights get too hot, city dwellers are the first to run into trouble. Some victims were found at home. An 84-year-old woman who’d spent over half her life in the same Sacramento, Calif., apartment died near her front door, gripping her keys. A World War II veteran...

Almost Invisible Animals

We’ve all heard of squid and octopus using pigments to blend in with their surroundings, but what about becoming completely invisible? To become actually see through, and appear as if you aren’t there, you need to either allow light to travel through you unimpeded, or bend light around you –...

Don’t Take Things So Personally

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” – Eleanor Roosevelt A very common problem that can drag your self-esteem down or build...

To Tackle The Rubbish Dump In Space

It was a breathtaking sight. Two Falcon Heavy boosters performed a synchronised vertical landing and, minutes later, another indelible image entered the world’s imagination. A bright red sports car orbited the Earth. The man responsible, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, received widespread acclaim for launching the largest rocket since Apollo’s Saturn V. The car...

The Best Buildings of 2017

Every year, a lot of infrustuctures have been built everywhere in the world. But few of such infrustructures leave a mark so that people will have a second look at them or maybe they will travel across the borders to have a look at them. Here are few of the...

A Ghost Island In The Indian Ocean

Ross Island, an abandoned British settlement in the remote Andaman archipelago, is being taken over by its rightful owner: nature. India’s idyllic islands Situated in the Bay of Bengal, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands are an isolated group of 572 tropical islands, of which only 38 are currently inhabited. Nautically...

Get Your Works Done with Less Stress

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle   It is early morning. You’ve had your breakfast and done your morning...

A Village with an Interesting Addiction

The green paint on the walls of Marottichal’s village teashop had started to flake, like coin scrapings on a scratch card, exposing a light blue tone of a bygone era. Perhaps this was once a rowdy bar or beer shop. But not anymore. Mr Unnikrishnan, the teashop’s owner, sat opposite...

The Storm That Trashed A City

It took barely 15 minutes. An intense and powerful – but brief – storm swept across north-west Europe one summer’s evening almost 350 years ago. It left a social and architectural imprint on the city of Utrecht that is felt to this day. A new study offers the best explanation...