A bus takes me from the centre of the Rioja region, north, on a 70-minute journey to San Sebastián. We pass through small farming villages where donkeys graze on the sloped hills, and cross bridges that stretch across great empty ravines. Water flows north over rocks below, before reaching the River Uruma in San Sebastián.
When it comes to cocktails the Cubans have been doing it right for years; The Mojito, The Daiquiri and The Cuba Libre each originated here, the hailed home of rum. Cuban bartenders were once hands-down the most celebrated in the world and their influence stretched far and wide. Feeling nostalgic? No need, Cuba's drinking culture lives on and it's just a cool as when it began.
Moving abroad can be stressful, that much is obvious, but when you're about to leave home some arrangements come more naturally than others. While I managed to hold a leaving party before moving to Hong Kong, some things, such as organising the shipment of important possessions, fell by the wayside. Oh well - who needs a change of clothes anyway?
The colonial neo-classical glory of Havana is bolted to the island's northern rim, its rooves and lanes cooking under a thick film of dust which serves as make up to make starker the city's faded beauty. It's a city as roué, where anything goes. But herein lies the problem of Castro's modern Cuba, a country at once in cultural free fall and rude ideological health.
All that can be stated with any certainty is that Joe Public is currently enjoying the fruits of 70 years of peacetime. He wants for nothing; not food, water, nor easy loving. Sensorially, the totality of his life is catered for with a click of a mouse. Novels are seen as difficult excursions that can only tax unprepared minds.
In Key West Florida one does not expect to be greeted with the question of are you Scottish? Ironically the touristic Caribbean island has had numerous visitors from the UK and Ireland in recent years. Local radio station Island 107.1 FM says they regularly receive request from Oban in the Scottish highlands.
If we study the Gatsby phenomenon in detail, we would realise that every society has its Jay. But the factors that produce a Gatsby can be amazingly different. For instance, in the case of India it was not war, but economic reforms which gave birth to this culture. Here I shall discuss the strange case of three Indian tycoons who had shades of Jay, and like him met violent deaths.