Free books The Places In BetweenAuthor Rory Stewart – Gsagency.co

It is what it is a guy walks across Afghanistan What do you think happens A he encounters very poor and poorly educated tribal feudal lords B he encounters hostile, backward, cruel teens and militia and former soldiersC he walks 25 miles a day with not much to describe rural Afghanistan is rural for a reasonD all of the aboveD, of course D Well, at one point he does get a dog Now Rory can describe how Babur likes to sniff and pee and roll in snow.I give Rory some credit for what he chooses to leave out complaints he is quite cheerful about what must have been bitter cold and about eating food that can t have been savory, about going hungry, and the lack of graciousness he encounters and the genteel way he describes unsavory life realities his dysentery, the lack of hygiene of his hosts Toward the end of the book he bemoans that he hasn t gotten to understand the Hazara very well one of the four ethnic groups in Afghanistan I don t think that was a fair whine his practice was to come to a village at dusk, stay one night, and head out in the morning, hardly conducive to sociological study His goal was never to understand the Afghans by hanging with them it was to walk across Afghanistan, a huge, formidable, mostly unfertile land, one of the world s poorest Mission accomplished But I find people interesting than both goals and landscapes I wish Rory did, too. Graham borrowed my copy and didn t return it Graham is a friend from the pub He s retired and he often forgets many things I bet he forgot he borrowed The Places In Between The arrogance of the Westerner is on full display in this romp just after the NATO Northern Alliance victory over the Taliban in 2001 Rory has a dog and the pair walk around Rory finds many of the locals lazy or selfish These same locals routinely give him food and shelter, this in the aftermath of an invasion It is dumb luck that Rory wasn t stoned to death for being an insensitive ass Rory s dog died, though to be clear he wasn t stoned by locals either He later went to walk in Iraq Poor Rory.Graham, you may as well keep my copy. I am in total awe of this author whew to say the least This is his account of his walk across the length of Afghanistan in 2002, right after 9 11 Need I say He s not a perfect writer, not a perfect audio narrator facts which make his tale all the compelling. Rory Stewart walks across most of Afghanistan I had high hopes for this book Unfortunately, Stewart s total disrespect for the customs of the people he meets along the way interfered with any enjoyment I might find in the story of his journey.He feels a sense of entitlement towards their hospitality He expects to show up and be provided with the best accommodations and the best food That he does this in an area where people often have a difficult time feeding themselves is irresponsible Stewart is aware that dogs are offensive to most Afghans, but he simply doesn t care Even in canine loving cultures, showing up with a large dog and expecting your hosts to accommodate it is nothing less than insensitive His walk is self indulgent Not only does he put himself at risk, he also knows that the tradition of hospitality will require some Afghans to undertake the same cold and dangerous conditions, despite the fact that these individuals will have to walk back to their villages and they do not possess proper footwear It was interesting to read this after recently finishing Three Cups of Tea Stewart and Mortenson are complete opposites Mortenson is a doer and clearly passionate and respectful of those he encounters Stewart is a critical, judgmental chronicler.I also got a little annoyed with his final high and mighty bit not accepting a ride for the last 71 km to Kabul as dangerous as it might be, because I could not explain why I was determined to walk every step of the way I did not feel I could give up so close to my goal Yet somehow he conveniently forgets that his goal of connecting his walks across Iran and Pakistan, as stated in the preface, has gaps from at least the Iranian border to Herat in the west and Kabul to the Pakistani border On a stylistic note, his frequent use of lengthy footnotes is annoying Since he s inconsistent about using them to expand on the historical context of his walk, they appear to be the result of lazy writing and poor editing. In January Rory Stewart Walked Across Afghanistan Surviving By His Wits, His Knowledge Of Persian Dialects And Muslim Customs, And The Kindness Of Strangers By Day He Passed Through Mountains Covered In Nine Feet Of Snow, Hamlets Burned And Emptied By The Taliban, And Communities Thriving Amid The Remains Of Medieval Civilizations By Night He Slept On Villagers Floors, Shared Their Meals, And Listened To Their Stories Of The Recent And Ancient Past Along The Way Stewart Met Heroes And Rogues, Tribal Elders And Teenage Soldiers, Taliban Commanders And Foreign Aid Workers He Was Also Adopted By An Unexpected Companion A Retired Fighting Mastiff He Named Babur In Honor Of Afghanistan S First Mughal Emperor, In Whose Footsteps The Pair Was Following Through These Encounters By Turns Touching, Confounding, Surprising, And Funny Stewart Makes Tangible The Forces Of Tradition, Ideology, And Allegiance That Shape Life In The Map S Countless Places In Between Just weeks after the fall of the Taliban in January of 2002 Scotsman Rory Stewart began a walk across central Afghanistan in the footsteps of Moghul conqueror Emperor Babur and along parts of the legendary Silk Road, from Herat to Kabul He d find himself in the course of twenty one months encountering Sunni Kurds, Shia Hazala, Punjabi Christians, Sikhs, Kedarnath Brahmins, Garhwal Dalits, and Newari Buddhists He said he wanted to explore the place in between the deserts and the Himalayas, between Persian, Hellenic, and Hindu culture, between Islam and Buddhism, between mystical and militant Islam He described Afghanistan as a society that was an unpredictable composite of etiquette, humor, and extreme brutality And he conveys all that in a way that only someone having taken such a journey, taken step by step, burning shoe leather, could have given us This didn t impress me much at first, when he begins it I wasn t hearing much about Afghanistan I didn t know But certainly by the time I got a third way through I was much impressed He had a gift for vividly describing the people and the landscape I have to admit, I found heart breaking to read how dogs are treated in Afghanistan It s said Muhammad once cut off part of his own garment rather than disturb a sleeping cat Unfortunately, he didn t feel equal affection for dogs, and they re religiously polluting They re not pets, and they re never petted A quarter of the way in his journey Stewart has a toothless mastiff pressed upon him by a villager and he named him Babur The evidence of past abuse could be seen in missing ears and tail, and someone told Stewart the dog was missing teeth because they d been knocked out by a boy with rocks Stewart found the dog a faithful companion and said he d call him beautiful, wise, and friendly but that an Afghan, though he might use such terms to describe a horse or hawk would never use it to describe a dog.Then there was how Afghanistan s precious historical and cultural legacy was being destroyed I think many Westerners certainly know about how the Taliban dynamited the giant Bamiyan Buddha statues over a millennium old because they considered them idols Just as profound a loss is discovered by Stewart in his travels There is a legendary lost city, the Turquoise Mountain of the pre Moghul Ghorid Empire Archeologists couldn t find it but when passing through the area, Stewart had found villagers who had, and were looting artifacts with no care for the archeological context or the damage they were doing to the site, selling the priceless wares for the equivalent of a couple of dollars on the black market This is what he tells us about his discussion with the villagers about the lost cityIt was destroyed twice, Bushire added, once by hailstones and once by Genghis Three times, I said You re destroying what remained They all laughed.Many a time I wished George W Bush and Tony Blair could have taken that journey with Stewart and learned the lessons he did He gives you a sense of the complexity and diversity of the culture and of Islam and just how ludicrous and ignorant were the assumptions and goals imposed on the country by the invading Westerners I certainly know that, especially as a woman, this wasn t a journey I could have personally taken, so I felt all the privileged to look over Rory Stewart s shoulder as he took the journey across Afghanistan. Stewart is an upper class Brit who sustains the English tradition of adventurism He has worked in Iraq and done other things I cannot recall here and in this book he tells of his walk across Afghanistan It was an interesting tale, one in which he offers a picture of what life is like for many of the locals It is not a happy existence, having to survive on land that is not very productive, at the edge of poverty for a lifetime, subject to the whims of the local warlords and bandits One thing that stood out was the widespread activities of the Taliban, the degree of their atrocities, the thousands they had killed and how pervasive was their effect They terrorized the nation What was also notable, sadly, was how many of the people Stewart encountered had been members and even officials when it had been profitable to be a Taliban One heart wrenching piece here was Stewart s adopting a very large, old, and run down dog, who became his travel companion and who he wanted to take home with him to Scotland Stewart comes from the moneyed and connected class, having gone to school with Tony Blair s kid, yet he does not come across as full of himself or at all arrogant Britain seems to produce adventurers and outdoorsmen as a normal part of their popular strain Stewart is clearly a full fledged member of that fraternity, carrying on a rich tradition He would have gotten along swimmingly with Rudyard Kipling The book is not wonderful It drags at times Stewart is a competent but not exceptional writer But there is the richness of his enterprise here, and I expect that we will be hearing plenty from Mister Stewart before he is done. Excellent especially to read while I was working in Afghanistan Good guy in real life too. I m not quite sure how to classify this book It s not exactly a travel book, nor is it current affairs So perhaps I m not judging fairly by seeing it air on the side of travel than any other genre Anyway, a good travel book, in my opinion, should make you vaguely want to go to a place Even if it s a wretched journey as in In the Heart of Borneo by Redmond O Hanlon Even if the trip is perhaps beyond your financial or physical means Even if you know what s being described on the page no longer exists or has changed beyond recognition as with Norman Lewis s books about Southeast Asia You should want to experience a place for yourself.Before reading this book, I had absolutely no desire to go to Afghanistan And after reading this book, I had absolutely no desire to go to Afghanistan My husband declared that he wanted to go and report in Afghanistan after he finished reading The Places in Between, and I had to admit to him that I was really puzzled by his response But the book seems to be a series of scenes where Stewart is sitting in a dark, oppressive room with a bunch of taciturn men with beards, I said Interrupted by periods of extreme cold and bouts of diarrhea The people or rather, the men, because women barely make an appearance no fault of Stewart s are either truculent or devious or simply backwards The food is basically hunks of greasy mutton or, often than not, nan like bread on its own And the landscape is snowy and bare Or snowy and blighted Or just plain snowy.The writing, too, wasn t spectacular Plain to the point of dullness A lot of I did this and I felt that But then again, given his general isolation, perhaps that s also not entirely his fault.So, again, I m puzzled A lot of people whose opinion I highly esteem rate this book quite highly What is it that I m missing Or were they just taken by the single mindedness of the journey I found out about this charater from a magazine article at the time of the book s release A scotsman who, for a variety of personal reasons not really revealed a nice change of privacy in this world begins walking across Afgahnistan.He intersperses historical entries of a previous walker conquerer between tales of hospitality and snow and destruction of antiquities.I don t imagine I will ever have the opportunity to go to the places he writes about So much of it was unfamiliar that the read was astonishing for that alone.But for all the political sensitivies he ably writes about and exhibitsI can t escape a certain irritating ballsiness of enitlement He embarks on this journey PLANNING to rely on the proverbial kindness of strangers because that is an Islanmic cultural and religious value And really, since he succeeds in his journey, he is evidence of an astonishing degree of hospitality and generosity He says this too, but I cannot imagine anyone walking across America, or Scotland for that matter, who would believe that he was entitled to expect food, shelter and assistance because he asked for it I guess I am flummoxed by his concept of need Kindness to strangers has it roots in fear that the strangers might be gods or their messengers alongside the pragmatic need that strangers in a strange land might need assistance.But to plan a trip just because people will, presumably, shelter you It just seems somehow to take advantage of something that you can never repay.All that being said, I am utterly in awe of man who walks with himself That is worthy of a journey Quite a read And quite a humbling recognition of a world we are destroying that has been destroyed many times over time.