Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Deep Map

prayryearthFor a number of reasons, too long to discuss here, I’ve been thinking about a book I read some twenty-odd years ago.
And for a change, I can’t find it in my boxes.
It is called PrairyErth (A Deep Map), and was written by William Least Heat-Moon.
I mentioned Heath-Moon in the past, because he is the author of Blue Highways, one of the best travel books I ever read – a book that actually caused me to start again reading travel books after a decade spent away from that genre.

Now, in retrospective, while at the time it left me perplexed (also due to the translation, I think) PrairyErth is sort of growing on me.
In particular I like the idea of deep map that’s at the core of the book. Continue reading


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Setting up a reading group

This might be the first post in a series…

Something’s moving, and I’ve been asked to set up a reading group.
The original idea was to have me do a writing workshop, but then it was judged too complicated, and therefore they fell back on a reading group I could set up for the local administration. For free, because there is no money for culture is the local mantra.
And despite my current dire financial straits, I thought, why not?

reading group

After all, I love books, I like talking about books, I like meeting people… as long as they provide me with a place to do it, it’s not a chore, for me, it’s fun.
And who knows, might be the start of something for which money can be found.

So, I put down a quick note about what you need to set up a reding club.
It’s a very bare-bones, personal recipe, something I improvised – based on my experience – to keep my contact hooked and try to actually get the thing on the road instead of just keep discussing the possibility. Continue reading


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Like Outer Mongolia

middleton-extremes-on-the-silk-roadIt took me a while (…) but I’m finally getting into Nick Middleton’s Extremes along the Silk Road.
I’m kicking myself for having waited so long, as the book is turning out to be a lot of fun, and filled with information and nicely-observed detail.

Middleton’s a good writer – to the point and amusing, very British in his approach to the idea of crossing the Gobi Desert as part of his exploration of the Silk Road.

And there’s a point where I had to stop and pause for a moment.

Early in his adventure, Middleton is spending some time as a guest in a local family’s ger, the round yurt typical of Mongolian nomads, and he observes how the daily routines and the lifestyle of these people has not changed in generations.

And I thought, well, neither has it changed hereabouts. Continue reading


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Back in the game?

Two firsts, tonight.
First first, after a long delay and lots of experiments and failed attempts, I’m running my first online gaming session – using Google Hangouts and my shaky connection.

This is very important to me – ever since I moved in this God-forgotten village in the hills of dreary Astigianistan, my regular gaming schedule has been disrupted and, later, canceled.

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One can’t drive 80 km to play three hours, and then drive 80 km back once a week.
Apart from the stress and the fatigue – and the short gaming time – the costs in terms of fuel are insane1.

So, will my connection hold and allow me to game online with my friends in Turin?
I really hope so2. Continue reading