Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bolts from the blue

In not very many days I'll be up to my neck in religious studies and other class-related research. To take advantage of the calm before this storm, I'm reading a "new history of the world," Byzantinist Peter Frankopan's thrilling The Silk Roads. It was on my office desk waiting for me - I'd bought a copy for my father for his birthday and one for me - but the Nepal-Tibet trip provided an additional incentive. The last night, at the Summit Hotel above Patan, the group members still in town gathered
for dinner and showed off what we'd purchased - mostly at Vajra Books in Thamel. I'd found a reprint of Swami Pranavananda's 1949 book about Kailash and Manasarovar, complete with cool map inserts of different sizes (don't ask me if I ever read it!). But S, the historian in our group, a venerable polymath from the Indian Himalaya, had something more interesting still - Peter Frankopan's The Silk Roads in its Indian binding. He'd been looking forward to reading it since he heard about it, he said! 170 pages in, I've got as far as the Mongols, who have laid waste to countless cities of trade and culture which I'd only ever learned about from this book. Nice to have known you Merv, Nīshāpūr...

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