Voices of Kashmir: Pollution and the Disappearing Houseboat Community

For decades the people of Dal Lake, its houseboat community and wider Srinagar inhabitants, have been witness to many of their lakes becoming polluted beyond repair. Now, Dal Lake is on the brink of an environmental disaster with huge economic, social, cultural and ecological repercussions that not only threaten the prevailing way of life for the local community, but also foreshadows the demise of natural habitats across India and worldwide.

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Acting for tourism amongst the beautiful islands of Krabi, Thailand.

By Connor Newson

A few days ago I arrived at a small village in a remote part of Krabi province, to teach English to the local community. Admittedly this was partly because I was guaranteed free accommodation and food which would definitely help my withering budget, but also because if I was going to volunteer then I would be sure to do something worthwhile. Little did I know that I was about to become an actor for EverydayKrabi.com in their promotional tourism film, and for a group of university students majoring in Tourism Communications with their final film project.

At 5.30am Teo and I (the other volunteer) were awoken at our dorm room and coaxed into a car with bleary eyes. “We need to leave now so we can catch the sun rise” explained A’om, one of the students. Five minutes later we pulled up to the pier of Laem Sak with four other crew members – Punpun, Pueng, Pam, and Floke. We waited by the sea until another car arrived. Dissaya and Toto (of EverydayKrabi.com) climbed out and unloaded the equipment as a fisherman walked by and jumped on a boat to start its engine.

I climbed aboard and watched as a wooden table, two chairs, a picnic basket, and various film equipment was passed from one person on the pier to the other on the boat. We set off into the darkness of early morning, still barely awake and unable to see much around us as we chopped through the gentle swaying of the shallow waves. Minutes later our boat had driven up the bank of an isolated beach that was too small to be called an island, yet large enough for it to need a warning light for passing boats.

The sky had begun its spectacular transformation after we stepped onto land. Above our heads the midnight blue skies merged with a concoction of wispy orange clouds that sprouted from behind the silhouette islands in the distance. Within seconds they had turned a bright candyfloss colour as myself and Teo took our seats beside the conveniently placed table in the centre of the beach. The sun then finally breached the horizon with explosive luminosity. Suddenly the famous Krabi Islands were no longer blackened obstacles in the dark, but beautiful rocky, green canopies seemingly floating on the calm blue sea in their own magical isolation.


I was distracted by the sound of something more unnatural than rippling waves running up the sand. It was the sound of a Phantom 4 drone that had been launched into the sky, cutting through the air with its four propellers and an underbelly camera directed towards us as we sat in front of the colourful backdrop. I looked at the table in front of me – which was furnished with a table cloth and local sticky rice with banana and coconut wrapped in banana leaf, and a coffee, all laid prettily for a picturesque shot. “Action”, someone from the distance shouted.

We ate whilst the drone circled overhead, with other cameras following on foot for close-up shots. Unlike other roles back in England, I felt no pressure this timeas I was too tired to care and too focused on the much needed coffee in my hands. However, my morning caffeine dose was soon cut short – literally.

“Do you mind if one of us replaces one of you?”, someone called after the cameraman called cut.

The crew explained that they instead thought it best for a female crew member to replace a male for this shot. I guess perpetuating the normality of using a heterosexual couple to sell a romantic breakfast at sunrise is better fitted for this particular scene. Nevertheless, I volunteered to stand out and observe for the rest of the scene.

After wrapping up we hopped back in the boat and sped to a nearby island. We pulled up to a tiny alcove where an unusually large ladder led to a cave inside. We climbed and explored as the cameras and crew followed, occasionally being directed to repeat certain actions. When Theo and I climbed back down, we spotted another crevice for which to squeeze through.

Credit: Punpun

Inside a small stream ran by our feet as we crawled through the algae-covered ceiling that glowed from the shimmering water. Seconds later we emerged on the other side to a vast open marshland, looking almost untouched with towering rock faces and thriving greenery surrounding us. It looked like a location where The Beach could have been filmed at, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio, and it could easily be one considering their actual location isn’t too far from here.

After taking a couple of steps forward I found my ankles had been completely submerged in the mud. Attempting to move forward was messy. So we ran, trying to move quicker than gravity could take us, for that proved somewhat logical at the time. It was not. And just like that, we had been reborn as children, falling and throwing handfuls of mud at each other, playing in the marshy green paradise.

After a quick swim in the warm sea to rinse our caked selves, and a short journey by boat, we arrived at a private beach hidden inside the masses of floating islands. I relaxed in the sun as the crew figured out the most aesthetically pleasing angles to shoot. Shortly after I was sat on a picnic blanket with Dissaya, the girl from the sunrise scene, chatting away as various cameras filmed the scene.


The lack of direction was relaxing, despite this meaning that I wasn’t really acting. Instead I was simply a tourist and I guess that is an accurate depiction for both tourism projects. The freedom in our movement limited the extent to which false representations of tourism could be made. After all, one of the most annoying things when travelling is to be sold something that is different to what you were originally told.

The death of Hollywood Ireland

by Jasper Hutson 

In the days following my arrival in Ireland from America, I’ve learned a few things; driving on the left side of the road is terrifying, food tastes better when you’re on holiday, and I don’t love the rain as much as I thought I did.

But mostly, I’ve learned that the image of Ireland that Americans conjure does not exist, and may never have. Things have changed since the filming of The Quiet Man, but that might not have been real even then.

There are two conflicting portraits of Ireland that are painted by the Hollywood-influenced consciousness; the peaceful and idyllic country full of simple villages, and the war-torn ‘old country’. My entire vision of the country was colored by these contradictory portrayals. While it was not surprising to find that one of these versions was wrong, actually it was expected, but I found that both were completely wrong.

On the first matter, the country has modernized considerably. In the words of Irish author John McGahern: “Ireland is a peculiar society, in the sense that it was a nineteenth century society to about 1970 and then it almost bypassed the twentieth century.” So, while the Hollywood portrayal of Ireland as a country stuck in the past may at one time have been accurate, it certainly no longer is.

However, there are several family farms. But the fact that there are still farming communities merely indicates a lack of corporatization of agriculture and not an absence of technological advancement.


Hollywood Ireland 2.jpg


There is also a substantial influx of foreign influence and investment. GE is building a biomedical plant near Cork, a move estimated to make over 500 new jobs. Chinese and other investors are pouring in, buying stakes in companies and property. There are vast amounts of immigrants from all over the EU and beyond. All of the interest has evolved Ireland into something of a small melting pot, especially larger cities like Dublin and Limerick.

All of these factors and many more have changed Ireland from a quaint and homogeneous little island nation into a rapidly changing organism.

On the other hand, though, there is the other side of paradoxical coin. Hollywood tells us that Ireland is at constant civil war, fighting itself to death. Does this Hyde live while the Jekyll dies?

First, a bit of history. Until the Good Friday Accords in 1998, Ireland was constantly being destabilized by a war between partisan groups. One of those groups, the IRA, demanded that Ireland and Northern Ireland (which was and is under British rule) be united into a single island state. The North, however, is populated mostly by Protestants, who feel more of a cultural tie with Britain than Ireland. So some Protestants took it upon themselves to defend the United Kingdom.

Needless to say, things stayed pretty intense between these various parties. Car bombings, shootings, and other acts of violence became common place, particularly in the contested areas of the North. This era became known as ‘The Troubles’. *

Meanwhile, Americans became enamored with the idea of a fight just on the other side of the Atlantic. As people are wont to do, they romanticized the conflict, ignoring the horrors.

Some believe the struggle to continue. They imagine a country filled with resentment to the other side and constant suspicion.

However, that mostly ended with the aforementioned accords and a slow disarmament. While the tension has not disappeared, it has lessened drastically. In fact, free movement between the North and the Republic is now possible, to the point where I have lost track which country I’m in; an advertisement with a £ instead of a Û being my only hint.

Of course, nothing is every truly over. There are still many people who hope to see a united Ireland. However, most of these are now organized into political groups instead of paramilitary ones. Granted, those still exist, but they are much smaller now and mainly operate in Belfast and Dublin.

So that’s it. The fantasy is cleared, showing a modern, cosmopolitan and complex country in place of the hazy outline that existed before. Of course, I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, so my view will continue to change and grow. Maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe The Quiet Man was practically a documentary? But I don’t think so.

*Please note that this is just a quick summary of the basic players in the conflict. It is not to be taken as a complete sequence of events. There are several historical reasons for the conflict, going back to the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 1100s. Any attempt to understand modern Ireland should take into account all the major events in the island’s history, which could not be provided in this short article.