Lauren Frayer

Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

Before moving to India, Lauren was a regular freelance contributor to NPR for seven years, based in Madrid. During that time, she substituted for NPR bureau chiefs in Seoul, London, Istanbul, Islamabad, and Jerusalem. She also served as a guest host of Weekend Edition Sunday.

In Europe, Lauren chronicled the economic crisis in Spain & Portugal, where youth unemployment spiked above 50%. She profiled a Portuguese opera singer-turned protest leader, and a 90-year-old survivor of the Spanish Civil War, exhuming her father's remains from a 1930s-era mass grave. From Paris, Lauren reported live on NPR's Morning Edition, as French police moved in on the Charlie Hebdo terror suspects. In the fall of 2015, Lauren spent nearly two months covering the flow of migrants & refugees across Hungary & the Balkans – and profiled a Syrian rapper among them. She interviewed a Holocaust survivor who owed his life to one kind stranger, and managed to get a rare interview with the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders – by sticking her microphone between his bodyguards in the Hague.

Farther afield, she introduced NPR listeners to a Pakistani TV evangelist, a Palestinian surfer girl in Gaza, and K-pop performers campaigning in South Korea's presidential election.

Lauren has also contributed to The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the BBC.

Her international career began in the Middle East, where she was an editor on the Associated Press' Middle East regional desk in Cairo, and covered the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Syria and southern Lebanon. In 2007, she spent a year embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, an assignment for which the AP nominated her and her colleagues for a Pulitzer Prize.

On a break from journalism, Lauren drove a Land Rover across Africa for a year, from Cairo to Cape Town, sleeping in a tent on the car's roof. She once made the front page of a Pakistani newspaper, simply for being a woman commuting to work in Islamabad on a bicycle.

Born and raised in a suburb of New York City, Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, rusty French and Arabic, and is now learning Hindi.

Sylvana Simons got her start as a soul music VJ on the Dutch version of MTV. She went on to anchor the evening news in the Netherlands, and performed on the local version of Dancing with the Stars.

On my first New Year's Eve in Madrid a few years ago, we went out around 10 p.m., and found the streets deserted. The bars were closed.

It threw me for a loop: Weren't Madrileños supposed to be notorious party animals? Where were they all?

It turns out, I just went out way too early.

Spaniards often spend Nochevieja — literally, the "old night" — at home. They watch the countdown to the new year on live TV, surrounded by family. And only then do they kiss grandma goodnight and go out partying.

Carola Garcia-Calvo spends her days poring over Islamic State propaganda. It's part of her job as a global terrorism analyst at Madrid's Elcano Royal Institute, a think tank.

Recently, she has noticed a shift.

After one of the founders of Corona beer died last summer at age 98, some news went viral: In his will, he'd apparently left his fortune to the tiny, hardscrabble village in northern Spain where he was born. Each resident — mostly retired farmers and miners of meager means — would receive more than $2 million.

Spain's national art museum, the Prado, has been around nearly 200 years and has one of the world's biggest collections of Renaissance and Baroque art.

But only now has it devoted a solo exhibition to a female artist: the 17th century Flemish painter Clara Peeters.

Jewish women sing songs of worship as they march arm in arm with male supporters through an ultra-Orthodox area of Jerusalem's Old City.

They're from a group called Women of the Wall, which lobbies for women to be allowed to pray, sing and read the Bible aloud at the Western Wall, the most important site for Jewish prayer. They hold these marches about once a month, and they often get heckled. Today is no different.

Thousands of soccer fans chant and beat drums in the stands. An announcer narrates, on live radio, the start of the match.

Players from Gaza's top soccer league sprint and dive for the ball. Going for a header, two players collide — and one lands on the leg of the other.

What happens next has never happened in Gaza before: A woman in a pink Muslim headscarf dashes out from the sidelines. She's there to treat the player whose leg was injured.

It looks like Surf City, USA: White sand beaches that stretch for miles, sunshine, a soft breeze and some pretty gnarly waves.

But this is not California. It's the Gaza Strip. This coastal Palestinian territory is more famous for conflict with Israel. Visitors have to pass through military checkpoints to enter the strip, and Israeli drones often buzz overhead. There are piles of rubble from years of war.

But Gaza also has a 25-mile Mediterranean coast and a small local surf scene.

Thousands of teenagers swoon — Arabs and Jews alike — as Tamer Nafar takes the stage. He's a member of Israel's Palestinian Arab minority, a founding member of the Palestinian hip-hop group DAM — and he sings in Arabic.

At this concert last month in northern Israel, part of a multicultural gathering on the sidelines of the Haifa Film Festival, where Israeli musicians of Ethiopian and Indian descent are also performing, "I'm not political," he raps.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Beef cheeks sizzle in a frying pan. Oysters float in melon puree. And culinary students from all over the world huddle in silent rapture around a stove in central London.

Food gods are in their midst.

The Roca brothers — Joan, Josep and Jordi — are the chef-proprietors of El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant in northeast Spain that's among the top-rated in the world. To international foodies, the Rocas are rock stars of haute cuisine.

In a muddy field in northern England's Lake District, more than 20,000 people are camping out at a four-day outdoor music festival called Kendal Calling. They jam along with their favorite bands. Some people wear outlandish costumes: There are superheroes, Indian chiefs and a naked guy wearing only transparent plastic wrap. There's dancing, drinking and occasionally, some illicit drug use.

A five-hour drive southwest of Madrid, I pull into a tiny town square filled with songbirds and an outsized Catholic church — where Eduardo Sousa and Diego Labourdette are waiting.

They're an odd couple. Sousa is a jovial fifth-generation Spanish farmer. Labourdette is a soft-spoken academic — an ecologist and migratory bird expert — who teaches at a university in Madrid. But they're in business together — in the foie gras business.

It may be cloudy and cold, with stones rather than sand underfoot, but the English seaside could get an unexpected boost this summer — courtesy of the Brexit.

Britain's June vote to leave the European Union has depressed the value of the British pound, and is likely to make Britons' airline tickets more expensive for summer vacations. So many are opting for "staycations" instead.

"In my circle of friends, I suspect many people will stay in the U.K. as opposed to going abroad," says Matthew Kirk, 42, who works in IT in London.

The town of Crawley, about 30 miles south of London, has been inhabited since Roman times. It grew substantially after World War II, absorbing people from bombed-out parts of the capital. There's a 13th century church and an old stagecoach inn that dates to 1615. The latest census figures show most of the roughly 100,000 people registered as living in Crawley are white and British-born.

But a stroll around town reveals a different picture.

Fran Beesley was still in her bathrobe early one morning in June when she emerged from her home to find a Japanese family taking photos of her flowerbeds.

She lives in a 1970s-style one-story bungalow in the rural village of Kidlington, about a 90-minute drive northwest of London. It's a quiet place. Doesn't get many visitors. Beesley is retired and cares for her invalid husband. They're both in their 70s.

He's a crazy-haired populist who was born in New York and nearly split his conservative party, but appears to have come out on top.

He's wealthy, but appeals to working-class voters. He's tough on immigration, and keen to point out President Obama's Kenyan heritage. Lots of people call him by his first name only. He once starred on TV.

He's not Donald Trump.

He's Boris Johnson, who was the mayor of London until he stepped down last month. Now he could become the United Kingdom's next prime minister.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The lush Whitehall Gardens are just a five-minute walk from Britain's Parliament and 10 Downing Street, where the prime minister lives and works. Behind the gardens, with their grand fountains and flowers, sprawls an ornate stone building, overlooking the River Thames.

This is prime London real estate.

On a drizzly spring day in rural East Anglia, north of London, Will Dickinson ducks into his centuries-old farmhouse to file some paperwork.

"The wet day has driven me inside to the office — where I hate to be!" says Dickinson. His home, Cross Farm, in Hertfordshire, has been in operation since at least the year 1086, when it was listed in the Domesday Book, a land survey of England and Wales written that year in medieval Latin.

Nicholas Winton is often referred to as "Britain's Schindler."

He was a young British stockbroker when, in December 1938, he canceled a trip to go skiing in Switzerland, and instead went to visit a friend in Prague who was helping refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

Hundreds of thousands of people whose personal fates could hinge on whether Britain leaves the European Union won't even have a vote in next month's referendum: Polish migrants. Among other EU citizens, up to a million Poles live and work in Britain. They're allowed to do so, because of free movement of workers in the EU.

In her suburban London row house, Margit Goodman, 94, sits wrapped in blankets in her favorite recliner.

She was a girl of 17 when she first came to Britain, escaping from her native Prague just before the Germans invaded. She remembers the exact date: June 5, 1939.

"When I left, [Czechoslovakia] was still a free country," she recalls. "But we soon became occupied by the Germans."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now we head across the Atlantic to hear about a different kind of political upheaval. London has elected a new mayor.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SADIQ KHAN: My name is Sadiq Khan, and I'm the mayor of London.

(APPLAUSE)

A crazy-haired populist born in New York is splitting his conservative party ahead of a hotly contested vote. He's wealthy but appeals to working-class voters. He's keen to point out President Obama's Kenyan roots. Lots of people call him by his first name only.

And he's not Donald Trump.

On the banks of a canal in industrial east London sits Britain's oldest salmon smokehouse: H. Forman & Son.

Inside, 80 employees help fillet and salt salmon by hand, then hang the fish in giant smokers. It's the same method used by the company's founder, Harry Forman, 111 years ago.

"He was an Eastern European Jewish immigrant that fled the pogroms — he came from Ukraine — and settled in London's East End in the late 19th century," says his great-grandson Lance Forman.

Karishma Kapoor, 20, is a business student, and a fan of soccer — or football, as the game is known outside the U.S. She's also a betting woman. One day last August, she was at her grandmother's house.

"We just all sat 'round just talking, and then football came up. And we thought, 'Why not?'" Kapoor recalls. "It's only a pound, so we put 2 pounds on, at 5,000-to-one odds."

Gibraltar, a tiny British territory at Europe's southern tip, is famous for its geography — a huge limestone rock — that appears on the Prudential logo.

It's a global center for offshore banking, with the trappings of wealth to prove it: Luxury high-rises tower over super yachts in Gibraltar's marina. The 2.6-square-mile territory boasts a standard of living several times higher than surrounding areas across the border in Spain.

When Britons vote this summer on whether to exit the European Union, one of the key battlegrounds in what's being called the 'Brexit' will be Gibraltar.

The 2.6-square-mile peninsula at Spain's southern tip is geographically part of the European continent, but has been British territory for more than 300 years. That means its citizens, United Kingdom passport holders, have the right to vote on June 23.

This week, Gibraltar hosted rival rallies by advocates for and against continued EU membership.

Every day at 2 p.m., Antonio Davila rolls the metal shutters down over the front of his computer repair shop in central Madrid. He heads home for lunch, picks up his kids at school — and then goes back to work from 5 to 9 p.m. He's originally from Peru, and says Spanish hours took some getting used to.

"The sun sets later here, and that affects people's habits," Davila says. "I open my shop around 10:30 a.m., close in the afternoon, and then stay open later at night."

Pages