East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Tropical diseases, Egyptian curses, colonial traditions and Sherlock Holmes

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I skipped a post yesterday: first I was busy doing a supermarket run and stocking my freezer with ice cream as a defense against the heat (36°C and 74% humidity as I write this), and then I scrapped the Holmes story I have been working on these last two weeks and started it over.
So I spent part of the afternoon and night of yesterday checking out books about Egyptian magic, and old Victorian books about tropical diseases.

I have bored you enough in the past with the joys of doing research, but this morning I was caught up in a discussion in which the glorious results of a misspent youth finally paid off – as a small-fry politician came out with the idea that we Italians are morally superior to the Brits, the French and the Spanish because we never had colonies.
When it was pointed out that we do have a small colonial empire, the guy tried to defend himself by claiming what he meant was that we never had a colonial tradition.
From here a discussion took off about the idea – and I was rather surprised by what some of my fellow citizens believe about colonialism.

At one point I felt like the ape Ape, in the movie George of the Jungle, when he says to another characters, “Miss, believe me, I met Jane Goodall and you’re nothing like her.”
I was going “Kids, I see where you come from, but I have actually studied colonialism in university to create a roleplaying game…”

Lots of weird looks.

In the end it was all rather useless, as the standard reply was “You’re right, but…”

But after all, that’s one of the side effects of doing research for stories – you learn a lot of stuff and you end up explaining to the people things they are not really interested in understanding.
Like last night, when I explained to a guy how to count the cards playing Black Jack…
They look at you like “Who’s this guy? How does he know this stuff? Why does he carry a pack of Bicycle cards in his pocket?”


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.

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