CULTURE

Tales from a tentative traveler

Anglo-Hellenic Review editor Paul Watkins leads another, more eventful life as a travel writer and publisher. «The Tomatoes of Wrath» distills his most exciting trips. From Cyprus during the uprising against British rule, to California before the advent of flower power, the perils of the chicken bus to Chichicastenango and the exotic garb of the Wig Men of Papua New Guinea, his travel experiences cover four decades and several continents. Although Watkins does a fine line in self-deprecation – the book is subtitled «Adventures of a Tentative Traveler» – he is obviously game to go anywhere. He claims to be barely able to leave home for fussing over pre-travel arrangements, yet once at his destination, Watkins makes the most of it. That might mean minor scams while serving in the decidedly unwarlike mobile bath and laundry company at a British base on Cyprus, or funding a 99-day Greyhound tour of the United States by casual labor. Willing to encounter the new head-on and to get his hands dirty if necessary, Watkins also has a keen desire to know about the people and places he encounters. It’s not all about him, in other words. There’s plenty of research here but it’s lightly borne, for the reader at least; the author admits to the temptation to tote large reference works on his travels. Even as a young national serviceman on Cyprus, he took lessons in Greek and sought iconographic traces of St Christopher. His Greek experiences have an earthier side too, notably in a seedy Athens bar from which he must be one of the few customers to escape with the contents of their wallet intact. (Available from www.formatbooks.com.)