The Tropics and homosexual liberation

For much of Robert Aldrich’s book Colonialism and Homosexuality, my main reaction was surprise at just how many of the famous people of the era of empire were apparently homosexual. From Rajah Brooke to Kitchener to W. Somerset Maugham, it’s clear that gay people as explorers, businessmen, writers and warriors made Britain’s Tropical empire in…

The Maasai Warrior and the Holy Mountain

Tanzania is home of some of Africa’s greatest natural spectacles but it also feels, well, just that - a spectacle - its roads lined with German tourists in safari vehicles and its traditional African hospitality coming with a (large) price tag. You have to search harder for the magic here than elsewhere in Africa, but…

Bali Ha’i: The Other Tropical Archetype

I’ve banged on about Heart of Darkness (HoD) in this blog a fair bit. It’s not just me; it’s a story that gets referenced over and over in writing on the Tropics. Paul Theroux bangs on and on about it in Dark Star Safari (my recommendation – read Kapuscinski instead, he writes with more style)…

Is Tropical House the sound of the Tropics?

Nothing is hotter in fashion right now than Tropical patterns, and now the Tropics appears to be taking over music as well. Tropical House is the latest musical genre that is all over the clubs, music festivals and radio. Never heard of it? Well, you’ve heard the songs, just look up a few of these…

Is madness part of the essence of the Tropics?

Part of the reason for keeing this blog is to uncover what the essence is or universal features of the Tropics are. The power of nature and colour has come up so far - but let's be more provocative - is madness also an inescapable part of the Tropics? The pre-eminent chronicler of the Tropics, Joseph…

Tropical Alternatives to Christmas

As the religious aspects of Christmas fade into the background over time the remaining, pagan European symbology becomes patently absurd, another way in which tropical citizens unthinkingly ape their temperate masters - fake snow in 30 degree heat; a santa costume unwearable without strong air conditioning; a tree from the sub-arctic recreated in plastic. In…