Venice’s first female gondolier

Alex Hai, female gondolier
©Marco Secchi

German Alex Hai had to fight off a bid to ban her from the city’s canals but she has the backing an aristocratic patron

Keiko Tanaka with her accordion in the Teatro Solis, Uruguay’s oldest theatre
©Pablo Sosa

Japan’s music-loving ambassador in Uruguay

The diplomat wants to fine-tune trade ties with Latin America — and pick up a few musical customs on the way

Homi Bhabha in his garden in Cambridge, Massachusetts
©Adam Glanzman

Harvard’s ‘wild card’ professor from Mumbai

The cultural theorist Homi Bhabha reflects on his many travels, the joy of good food and sparkling conversation

British mountaineer who hates travelling

Everest veteran Stephen Venables has led expeditions across the Himalayas and Antarctica but loves being at home in Andalusia

Cameron Carpenter at theWeinbergsweg public park in Mitte
©Hannes Jung

An American organist in tune with Berlin

Cameron Carpenter left New York for the German capital and soon learnt to appreciate its love of music and tolerant outlook

Michael Birch at home in San Francisco
©Jason Henry

Bebo’s co-founder on building communities

Michael Birch talks social networking, San Francisco and reviving the Devon village of his ancestors

Michael Hobbs outside his first renovation project in Le Marche
©Adamo di Loreto

British businessman finds the ‘real Italy’

Michael Hobbs renovates and sells properties in Le Marche and is embracing the region’s quiet, laid-back lifestyle

Moussa Ag Assarid in the French city of Angers, wearing Tuareg garb, although not his traditional ‘cheche’
©Theophile Trossat

Desert nomad finds his oasis in France

Tuareg tribesman Moussa Ag Assarid left the Sahara for the French city of Angers and wrote a book about his adventures

Josh Noble near Pedder Street, Hong Kong
©Berton Chang

FT correspondent on surviving Hong Kong

Josh Noble says beyond the glitzy glass towers and expat hang-outs, there is a city oozing charm and tradition

Father Hamazasp Kechichian at the Armenian monastery on San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice
©Gabriele Orlini

An Armenian monk in Venice

Father Hamazasp Kechichian mourns for his war-torn homeland from a tranquil island in the lagoon

English conductor Ivor Bolton in Munich

Lancashire-born musician on the logistics of living in Germany while his wife and son live in Barcelona

English guesthouse manager in rural Japan

Yearning for the quiet life, Anna Thomson moved to a remote mountain region an hour from Kyoto

Briton who promotes ties with North Korea

Former college lecturer seeks to foster engagement with Pyongyang via travel tours and films

An instrumental move: Singapore to London

Melvyn Tan recalls the chance encounter that led him to the UK more than 45 years ago

English publishing veteran in Hong Kong

Barrie Goodridge reflects on how the territory has changed since he arrived in 1982

Travelling circus clown in Toulouse

Blaï Mateu Trias talks about working in conflict zones and refugee camps to offer comic relief

Astrophysicist high on life in Spain

Armenian Garik Israelian on why he feels so close to nature in the Canary islands

Czech Republic to Juventus FC and Turin

Pavel Nedvěd on his love for the Italians and their way of life

Kathrin Messner: Austria to Sri Lanka

Feeling stifled by Vienna’s art scene, Messner invested her energies in free education

Claudia Roden: from Cairo to London

How the culinary writer brought tahini, falafels and hummus to the UK