…During the school break, I’ve also read. One of the books was The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. Excellent. Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan in 2002. He wrote an anthropological work labeled by Tom Bissell, New York Times’ critic, as a ‘flat-out masterpiece.’
Rory Stewart is part of a small selected group in the world: traveler writers or walking writers (!). I really enjoyed the way Rory writes so, if you have the chance of getting your hands on Rory’s book, check out these two chapters:
Genealogies (last 3 paragraphs; page 73):
Every night, in over five hundred villages, I interviewed people about their possessions, communities, and history. I was not in control of these conversations. I was often tired, and as I interviewed others I was also defending myself against suspicious questions and trying to be polite to my host.
My notebooks were filled with facts about places I could rarely find again on maps.
Writing for two hours in my diary each night had become a fixed habit… I observed how religion, language, and social practices were becoming homogenized, and how little interest people took in ancient history. I noticed all of this but I was not sure whether writing it down was any more than a cover story to justify the journey to myself. I was certainly motivated by more than anthropological curiosity.
The Missionary Dance (last paragraph; pages 115-116) which I particularly like:
I sat down and wrote a long letter to my parents, in case I was killed. In the past sixteen months I had bribed, flattered, pried, bullied, begged, and wheedled in order to continue my walk. I was more of a tramp than a mystic, but as I wrote I felt at peace… I wondered if walking was not a form of dancing.
Watch out for other walkers… their books might be around the corner!