Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tandoori borscht in Central Asia

In the early 1800s Russia attempted to invade India, but they had to fight the Mongols in Central Asia, and then deal with the British in the Himalayas. Russia's dalliance with India and Central Asia is brilliantly documented in Peter Hopkirk's "The Great Game," a book I need to revisit before reading "Chasing the Monk's Shadow," written by Mishi Saran hitting bookshelves in December.

According to a preview, Saran's book is a travelog about a 7th century Chinese monk walking through Central Asia, Pakistan and into India where she wants to pick up knowledge from a Buddhist monk. Cut to the 21st century, where Saran follows that path and brings us observations about the people and places from both time periods.

Saran has traveled the world and worked in different countries, just the kind of job I desire. Think I'm half way there; now it's a matter of putting the contacts to work. A bit crazier than Saran is my friend Olivia whose blog documents her past travels, including trips to Afghanistan and Yemen. (now have YOU ever thought of going there?).

For travelers like Mishi Saran and Olivia, the local blend matters a lot. Olivia is a great observer, and her blog digs deep into the microcosm of each country she has visited -- sort of like answering the small lingering questions about life. Her viewpoints pack a wallop, so get ready for that pulse rising occassionally. It makes for days of fine reading.

More perspective about The Great Game: An undercover battle was waged by Russia and Britain in the Himalayan/Pamir regions when Russia made an effort to conquer India for its riches. Russia had only one route to come -- through Central Asia -- where they fought with the Mongols, who hated the Russians. The book takes a look at the diplomatic channels, the small battles and the levels of intensity of this semi-war. It's an interesting need, though the names could be hard to remember.

These books won't trigger mass appeal; its about Central Asia, Russia and Western China, regions that people don't care much about. But I just can't get enough of those areas -- so intense, deep and lively that it opens up a whole new world.

I file an occassional entry with the hope to open up that fantastic part of the world and get people to know what's going on there. I just hope those entries are readable.

And yep, I'll write on just about anything to stay away from US politics! Anyone for a poem on Fig Newtons?


Blogger venus said...

It's a whole new, different perspective whenyou eyewitness the place first-handedly I guess. I also do want to go around the world, but as an explorer..

12:28 PM  
Blogger Khakra said...

what's your next destination other than india venus?

10:27 AM  
Blogger venus said...

I'd like to visit europe, but i guess, canada would be the first on the list. Other places I want to explore are: Austrailia, New Zealand, Egypt, Russia, Kuwait, and many many more!

8:25 AM  

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