Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Places in Between

by Rory Stewart

I felt great sympathy with this man's mother before I finished the book. He did not get enough to eat, nor did the dog! A harrowing story of a lone walk across Afghanistan in 2002. But a engaging narrative with a perfect blend of contemporary characters, history, culture and landscape.

And this is why I loved this book. He wrote these lines,

    As we ate, our host, Khalife Amir, played a tamboura lute made from a small, yellow plastic oil bottle, a table leg and two wooden awls. He fingered only the lower string. I had not heard music for a month. My days had passed in silences with flurries of thought in a landscape that changed slowly.
    Note by note the music brought a sense of time back to me. Each pause was charged with anticipation of the next note and the slow revelation of a tune. Khalife Amir measured silence, dividing each minute into a succession of clear notes from the string and then weaving time together again with his tenor voice.
Here is the NY Times review.

An interesting character mentioned in passing in this book was Nancy Dupree who wrote An Historical Guide to Afghanistan. I had not heard of her before. Another historic personnage who figured in this book was Babur.

After reading this book the traveller knows that there is always somewhere to go to get away from the crowds.

No comments: