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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 April 2003, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
George Arney biography
George travels through Pakistan in search of
George treks through the Kashmir hills in search of quake survivors

George Arney stumbled across India entirely by accident, not unlike Christopher Columbus discovering America while trying to find India.

A mix-up with a travel agent led to his first, bruising encounter with the Indian subcontinent.

During his stay, he was drugged, robbed, detained by Pakistani border guards, and jammed upright for 24 hours in a packed train compartment.

Swearing he would never return, he then changed courses at Cambridge University to study modern Indian history.

After completing an MA in South Asian studies, he returned to India, with the threefold objective of breaking into journalism, learning Hindi and exploring the socio-cultural uses of the Indian herb charas.

He was partially successful in all three and was eventually recruited by the BBC World Service to write commentaries on Indian politics, a subject about which he knew virtually nothing.

Asian adventures

Since then, George has spent half a dozen years living in South Asia.

He was the BBC correspondent in Pakistan when the military dictator General Zia ul Haq died in a mysterious plane crash (but claims to have a water-tight alibi).

And he himself was lucky to survive during a posting to Sri Lanka.

Caught in a night-time ambush by a rebel suicide squad, he learned the hard way that shouting "BBC! Don't Shoot!" is not necessarily a deterrent for trigger-happy gunmen.

In between BBC postings, George has occasionally attempted to branch out into different fields, including an ill-fated attempt to become a hotelier in the jungles of north-east Thailand.

Author of a book on Afghanistan, he has also presented the World Service breakfast show The World Today and BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents.

Crossing Continents


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