Writing

Tom Grundy’s published writing


Time Out Magazine: Iran – Glorious Esfahan, 26.10.11

Travel piece for Time Out Magazine.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

As your flight descends into the dark heart of the Evil Axis, rumours of 50c heat, a presumed threat of kidnap and the danger of a terrorist free-for-all weigh heavily upon the mind. However, Iran’s terrifying reputation and wildly inaccurate stereotypes mask what must be one of the friendliest and safest hidden gems in all of Asia. From magnificent mosques to bustling bazaars, the Islamic Republic is home to a sophisticated culture and rich history, all showcased with a famously heartfelt level of hospitality. And as for the intense desert heat – long-suffering Hong Kongers may actually find the lack of humidity strangely tolerable.

The lightly beaten tourist trail begins in the ‘City of Love’, Shiraz. No longer a wine producer, this small city is centred around the elaborate Vakil Bazaar. The colourful marketplace comes to life at night and shoppers exploring the endless maze will find locals offering to pay for things (or even dinner!) as shopkeepers chase them down dark alleys merely to return their change.


Daily Cloudt: Hong Kong Occupy Wall Street – Mind the (Poverty) Gap, 18.10.11

Comment for Naomi Wolf’s Daily Cloudt (now defunct).

Over 300 ‘Occupy Hong Kong’ activists gathered at the city’s Stock Exchange on Saturday, October 15th. In a city of 7 million, the turnout surpassed expectations as demonstrators fought to raise awareness of the territory’s shamefully high income disparity. From the outside, it would seem that Hong Kong escaped the worst of the financial crisis – personal US$700 bail-outs are being offered to all residents, families in public housing are enjoying free rent for 2 months and the government is even subsidising electricity bills. However, beneath the Tiger Economy’s glittering skyline, hailed as the world’s freest economy and its third most favoured tax haven, the ex-British colony also sports the region’s widest poverty gap.

The UN Gini Coefficient rates Hong Kong society as the most unequal amongst all highly developed economies with the wealthiest 10% of the populace controlling more than a third of the city’s income. Meanwhile, an estimated 5,000 people live in 15sq foot ‘cage homes’. These squalid shoebox ‘coffins’ are often shared between a dozen occupants, subdivided with wire mesh. As well as boasting one of the highest population densities in the world, the territory’s property rental market is also the world’s most expensive. Incredibly, the poorest end up paying more per square foot than those in top-end lavish studios.