Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Blogger hasn't been allowing me to title my posts for a couple of days now but if this one had a title it would have been called Romance.

On my fourteenth birthday, my parents gave me these presents. (No, this isn't headed where you think it is.) The presents were a couple of books called Foreign Devils on the Silk Road and Trespassers on the Roof of the World, written by one Peter Hopkirk, who for donkey's years had been the Central Asia correspondent for the Times. The books caught my imagination at once and I read them intently, several times. Then I did the only other thing a teenager in the pre-internet days could have done, which is I tracked down all the other Peter Hopkirk books available in India and read them all.

And that is how matters remained. Until today. When finally. In just a few hours. After ALL these years.

I set off on my own journey along the Silk Road!!!

Tonight, we spend in Xi'an -- the Capital of Cathay in those faraway times, where Xuan Tsang settled down on his return from India to finally translate the stores of Buddhist scriptures he'd collected. From there we head to Dunhuang, home of Crescent Lake and Echoing Sand Mountain, where a hundred years ago Aurel Stein morally bribed Abbott Wang by invoking the same Xuan Tsang, and made off with swathes of his enormous store of historic documents and artefacts. From there to Jiayuguan, the western extremity of the Great Wall, whence criminals were banished into the desert wilderness; all who passed picked up a pebble and threw it at the gate, if it bounced back, you knew you would one day return to China. Then an overnight train to Turpan, home of luscious grapes, and the two thousand year old city of Karakhoto discovered by Albert von le Coq. Then Urumqi, to ride a boat on the Heaven Lake made famous by Vikram Seth. And finally Kashgar, due north of Delhi, the ancient town where the Silk Road split into two, a hundred years ago the epicenter of the Great Game, where in addition to all of that we also take in the day long drive along the Islamabad highway to Lake Karakuli.

Oh, the romance!

I'll be gone a while, kids. Be good.


Blogger Rahul said...

Funny about the post titling: I noticed yesterday that clicking on the "title" field did nothing, but after some random clicking, I found that clicking a little above the "title" field supplies a cursor in the field.

7/10/2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Revealed said...

Bloody unfair. Stub a toe.

7/10/2007 1:02 PM  
Anonymous bandafbab said...

Have fun..Just remember that the Chinese serve good (and cheap) beer in the dining cars of their trains

7/10/2007 3:08 PM  
Blogger Veena said...

Don't you have to teach or something? Going along the Silk Road, I believe! How are kids ever supposed to learn I don't know. So bloody irresponsible.

7/10/2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Ph said...


7/10/2007 8:11 PM  
Blogger km said...

First Angkor Vat, now this.

You loathsome man.

//And I totally agree with Veena's point.

7/11/2007 12:24 AM  
Anonymous bandafbab said...

He's going to teach a course about marketing practices on the Silk Road. The MBA students in Michigan are dying to find out about that.

7/11/2007 1:50 AM  
Blogger ??! said...

Oh, hush, everyone. Stop being jealous. Have fun, professori. Oh and might one suggest The Lost Heart of Asia, and Shadow of the Silk Road, by Colin Thubron.

7/11/2007 4:22 AM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

Oh pffffft!!! SO unfair!! Ive wanted to visit Umurqi and Kashgar for eons now :(

7/11/2007 11:05 AM  
Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Sick with envy. Hope you're carrying a copy of Mission to Tashkent .

Vaya con Cthulhu.


7/11/2007 5:55 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Jealous, jealous, jealous. Not only do you eat fabulous Hong Kong dimsum, but now you take a trip down the Silk Road. I'm sure you'll have an amazing trip.

Dudher shaad gholey metaano - give us lots and lots of photos.

7/13/2007 12:32 AM  
Blogger Veena said...

fyi - While you were gone, we have all made the discovery that you are actually colin thubron in disguise.

7/15/2007 6:37 AM  
Blogger Renovatio said...

Love reading this place... Shame I haven't in a while... Just can't decide who to blame.

Word verification: yzyzlwxr!

Well yzyzlwxr to you too, blogger.

7/17/2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

and he's back.

thanks for the tip.

revealed, szerelem:
and why not?

thanks :-) the country floats on cheap beer, doesn't it?

veena, bandafbab, km:
the silk road was all about consumerism, you know.


?!!, jap:
thanks for the tips! now i have something more to look forward to.

thanks :-) got back late last night and transferred the pix to the computer. all 961 of them. looks like there won't be much else on the nomological net for a while, heh.

veena again:
ha, thanks! see ??!!'s comment above yours :-D

life's like that ;-)

7/20/2007 10:27 AM  
Blogger ??! said...

professori is back!
looking forward to pics - somebody should give Szerelem a run for her money.

7/20/2007 5:33 PM  
Blogger Szerelem said...

??! - I have more pics to put up ya know!! AND I still havent had my disposable cameras developed :D

TR - Photos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7/20/2007 9:29 PM  
Blogger Revealed said...

Yup, photos pliss.

7/20/2007 10:25 PM  
Blogger ??! said...

and you are waiting for? hot walnut brownies, served with melted dark Belgian chocolate?

7/20/2007 11:52 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

?!?, szerelem, revealed:
coming up, an OD.

7/21/2007 1:29 PM  
Anonymous swati chaudhary said...


I am a student in Singapore and am taking a class on Social Media. As part of the course I need to do a country profile of Hong Kong. I was hoping to get a few quick (really!) comments from you, regarding your perceptions on the state of the internet social media in HK. I will be extremely grateful if you could send me a contact on


7/22/2007 11:59 AM  

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