Unveiled Lives

A Note from the Editors

What do we do when the people and places we’re trying to understand are shrouded? How do we pierce the veils of history or chemistry, art or psychology in order to glimpse the lives they conceal?

The autumn 2022 issue of Hidden Compass is devoted to answering those questions. Five storytellers from all over the globe bring us five different takes on this issue’s theme, Unveiled Lives.

We start, aptly, at The Beginning of the Beginning, in a sculpture garden in Kenya. While seeking traces of her Ameru ancestry and her people’s full origin story of Mbwaa, journalist Peace Mundia reckons with the aftermath of colonialism. As this issue’s Portrait story makes clear, loss and its accompanying sadness can be echoes of the past that still reverberate and inform the present. 

Then, in this issue’s Quest story, the unintended — and remarkable — consequences that can follow a life-shaking event are celebrated. Into the Shimmering Void offers an exquisite pair of narrative experiences: those of James Holman, a blind, world-traveling explorer of the 19th century, and those of storyteller Maud Rowell, a blind, world-traveling explorer of the 21st century. Along the way, the story and its original artwork, by blind artist Keith Salmon, challenge our notions of who should be celebrated and admired. 

Recognition is also at the heart of our Human & Nature photo feature, which takes us deep into Nepal. In the village of Dhye, in the remote Himalaya, writer and photographer Tulsi Rauniyar introduces us to the “corner people,” whose centuries-old way of life is imperiled. The Lonely Kingdom contemplates the difficult choices these individuals are making — even as the end draws nigh. 

Next, we venture into Antarctic waters for a Chasing Demons story centered on old traumas and new beginnings. Mayday at the Bottom of the World, by journalist Jane Ellen Stevens, is a powerful, poignant, and gripping adventure story about the RSV Aurora Australis, a distressed ship cut off from the world. But it is also a brave, stirring memoir that emerges in catastrophe’s wake. 

Finally, we immerse ourselves in a sweeping series of unveiled lives. In our Time Travel story, The Three Lives of Warsaw’s Neon, Poland’s capital is aglow as journalist Emily Manthei illuminates the city’s history of “neonization” — and a century of art and commerce, form and function, war and peace. 

As always, we extend our deepest gratitude to our readers, who share our vision of powerful storytelling, and to our contributors, who bring us stories from the frontiers of modern exploration.

Until the next voyage,

Jeremy Berlin, Editorial Director

Sabine K. Bergmann and Sivani Babu, Hidden Compass Co-founders