My travelling days seem over (for now). Therefore, a book like The Discreet Hero is a godsend as it keeps the wanderlust at bay. It is set in the stultifying heat and noise of Piura and Lima, Peru where locals take refuge from the noonday sun with drinks such as Inca Kola and espresso cut with milk. Where peddlers hawk their molasses candies and empanadas on the boardwalk. We get to see the city through the eyes of its inhabitants exposing the sediments of time, weather and enterprise not always privy to the tourist: “He thought of the old mansions that had lined this seawalk when he was a kid. They’d fallen into disrepair one after the other because of the havoc caused by El Nino: the rains, the river overflowing its banks and flooding the neighbourhood. Instead of rebuilding, the whites had made their new homes in El Chipe, far from the centre of town.” Local peculiarities surface too; heroically standing up to blackmailers when blackmailing is all but expected, consulting with holy women and God alike. All this without having to ferret out my lapsed passport.