Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Where the wind leads us

This is another ramble written in a single sitting and without thinking.
You’ve been warned.
Because you see, we were talking about adventure, with my friend Lucy.
She’s a scuba diver and a cyclist – the sort of person that goes on the road with her bike as a form of vacation, cycling for miles.
I write about adventures. Make believe adventures.

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I was all set, I studied geology and paleontology because I wanted to go out there – deserts, jungles, far off places…
I ended up in a lab and a classroom, first, and now in a small cold house in the middle of nowhere.
I should have been smarter, I’ve been told, I should have sought a post at the post office, or as a bank teller.
Everybody told me so, ever since I was 10, ever since I started saying I wanted to go dig dinosaurs or climb volcanoes.
End they were right.
Or were they?
After all, my chat with my friend Lucy started because there’s an organization out there handing out the European Adventurer of the Year Award.
What would our families, our teachers and our successful white-collar friends say, should they ever find out? Continue reading


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How Adventures Changed How We Think About Death

selection_555Now this is a topic, right?
Blame the Portent Content Idea Geneator, that spat this one out when I put in the topic “Adventure”.
And it works, in a certain way.
Let me see if I can get this going – and incidentally, by “adventures” I will mean “adventure fiction”, be it novels, movies, comics or games.

Now, death is a fact.
We all know that we are sitting in this grand theatre and watching this movie, and one day when we least expect it the lights will go out forever, and we will never see how the movie ends.
6186And to be completely honest, that’s what peeves me the most – not seeing how the stories that I see unfurling in front of me will go after I’m gone.
I subscribe to Roger Zelazny’s idea of immortality – eternal life is an eternal sequence of unique moments and experiences, so don’t come and whine about how an eternal life would, in the end, be boring.
Not for me, sorry.
I’m currently going through the roughest time in my life, and I’m having lots of fun.
I’m sorry there’ are other people involved, and I get some very bad moods and I’m often anxious because I could end up living under a bridge in a few weeks, but God forgive me, it’s also exciting.

Which leads us to adventure fiction. Continue reading


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At last, The Far Pavilions

The_Far_PavilionsMy goodness, it’s been 18 months!
In January 2015, I announced my intention of reading M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions1 as part of my reading list of adventure/historical novels set in India.
I got me a cheap, second-hand, printed-so-small-you’ll-burn-your-eyes hardback copy of the Italian translation2, and then all hell broke loose, my priorities changed, the book got buried at the bottom of my reading pile, and I picked it up again five days ago.
I’m going through it like a speeding train – basically because it’s a novel that reads like a breeze. It will be over by Wednesday.

Now, some personal background – I’m pretty sure my mother read The Far Pavilions when it came out in Italian in 1980. My aunt lent my mom her copy – I have this faint memory of the two of them talking about it. And both my mom and my aunt were into it because of the romantic element – about which, more later.

So, what’s the deal with The Far Pavilions? Continue reading


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Shameless adventures

adventure_19350815Do you mind if I rant?
You see, I don’t always call other people cretins, but when I do, it is usually because they pretend to know what they are talking about when they in fact they do not know.

Yesterday I was told that adventure stories – and genre fiction in general – is a second-rate form of cheap entertainment, aimed at housewives and blue-collar working-class brutes that can’t appreciate a good, solid, proper “real novel”.
And the word cretin erupted through my lips before I could think about something more scathing and cruel.

Then I launched in a long-winded rant the gist of which I will now inflict on Karavansara readers.
Because like a guy once said, I suffered for my art, now it’s your turn. Continue reading


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How to be an Adventurer

OK, I was writing yesterday’s post and I was surprised when I noticed that Tracey Curtis Taylor describes herself, on her her website, as an Adventurer.
Now, sure, that’s as cool as ever but…

OK, quite simply, I was told you can’t be an adventurer.
And fool that I was, I believed it.
Despite being primed – as a generation – to become adventurers, raised on a steady diet of Moon landings and Skylab, undersea exploration and travels in foreign lands, ancient mysteries and lost civilizations, we were told it was quite fun and all that, but now we should forget about it and find ourselves a job.
Possibly something very boring, capable of killing any remaining spark of life still residing in our soul.
Even those of us that – contrary to all common sense – went and became geologists, paleontologists or oceanographers, were later told we had had our fun, now go and get a proper job. Continue reading


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The Nightwalkers

51eIMmQpg3L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Archaeologis and Chinese art expert David Armour disappeared in 1941, in Peking.
He resurfaces in a mission hospital in a rural Chinese province in 1947, with no memory of the previous six years.
He can’t remember anything and nobody seems to know what happened.
There’s stories, though – some say he collaborated with the Japanese occupation forces, others claim he became a guerrilla leader fighting the Japanese.
Back in Shanghai, David will have to patch together the events of his missing years – meeting his estranged wife Adrian, feeling the pressure of a number of parties that want to use him, or take control of his life.
Then there’s the story about the four missing T’ang bronzes whose whereabouts he might know – and have forgotten.
And his other wife – the one he doesn’t remember.
Continue reading