East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Odd man out


A short report today.
We are currently snowed in here where I live, and we are suffering from network and power grid failures1.
Which has caused the planned post to be lost during an aborted blog update.

The idea was to devote some attention to the third bok of the challenge, Stuart Stevens’ Night Train to Turkistan.
Which I am finding it terribly uninspiring.
I’ll try and summarize my views in the following post, planning to do a more in-depth overview in the next few days.

Probably Stevens’ book suffers from the comparison with the works of Maillart and Fleming and, indeed, of many other travelers in Central Asia in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Maybe there’s been a shift in perception, and Maillart’s lyrical observations, and Fleming’s detached and very British outlook seem fresher and truer than the American author’s travelogue.
Maybe it’s just me, and I suffer from an acute form of nostalgia.For sure, my hope of using Night Train to Turkistan as a counterpoint and commentary of Fleming and Maillart’s journet west is becoming more of a wishful thinking.

For sure, my hope of using Night Train to Turkistan as a counterpoint and commentary of Fleming and Maillart’s journey west is becoming more of a wishful thinking.And here I trust this brief message to the web, and go back to clearing up the snow from my courtyard.

And here now I entrust this brief message to the web, and go back to clearing up the snow from my courtyard.
Keep warm!

  1. which, all things considered, is perfectly in tune with our Challenge. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

8 thoughts on “Odd man out

  1. Funny. I just started my blog yesterday and it is still a work in progress (to start with, it is written in Spanish), but this is what I say about Stuart

    “Stuart Stevens, un americano que recorrió la Ruta Norte en 1990 (la época en la que yo quería ir), junto con tres amigos suyos. Lo que iba a buscar allí es un misterio, explica mucho el cómo, pero muy poco el por qué”

    Translation is: “Stuart Stevens, an american who followed the North Road, in 1990 (when I wanted to go), with three friends. What they were looking for is a mystery he talks a lot about the how , but almost nothing about the why.

    Anyhow, Stuart’s book is fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s fun, but I feel like staring into the void.
      But probably it’s just me.
      And best wishes for your blog!
      (a good opportunity for me to brush up my Spanish 😀 )


      • The funny part of starting a blog is how long it takes to decide on theme, what widgets to include (I found one to make a path using coordinates linked to a post), what statistics are needed,etc. all the technical stuff that subconsciously delays the dreaded moment of staring at a blank page and wandering… so, here I am, what I would put in there? 🙂

        Anyhow, I write the blog for myself, to organize my mind… one post dedicated to the place / city /camel stop / caravansary and what ella and peter say about this, one post for my thoughts what I plan to find, and then, in the future, what I have actually found there.

        Now I need to translate it to English, although I plan to use automatic translation


        • As a translator, I professionally disapprove of automatic translation… 😀
          … but for websites and blogs it’s actually pretty useful.


          • Probably we should make the difference between a translator and an interpreter. A translator may be replaced by a machine.

            But translation must also be interpretation. When I need to translate “when she awoke, the lake was frozen solid and temperature was a chilling 0 degrees..”. , I need to put this in context… What degrees are we speaking of? should be Fahrenheit, because if it is Celsius the lake will not be frozen solid. And, is zero Fahrenheit an actual temperature, or the way chosen by the author to say “it was *very* cold”. Should the translator say “la temperatura era de -17 grados” ? weird, isn’t it?

            So, for me translation may be automatic, because it only solves the transcription. I one στεπ μορε τηαν τηισ.

            I remember very interesting discussions with my interpreter in China who tried to explain the subtleties of the “Chinese no”. There is a lot of places (not only in China) in which to say “No, I won’t do that” is considered rude (Madrid is one).

            And probably I will write my blog in English, (well, Spanglish), or at least I will start and I will see.


          • Let me know when you start, I’ll link to you, happily!


          • Hello, Davide!

            This is the link to my blog. I have decided that I will write it essentially in English… well, in my “my tailor is rich” English, of course, with some excerpts in Spanish


            I hope you enjoy it, at least the photographs.



            Liked by 1 person

          • Great!
            I’ll add you to my blogroll.

            Liked by 1 person

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