East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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The Phantom Rickshaw

Nearly every other Station owns a ghost. There are said to be two at Simla, not counting the woman who blows the bellows at Syree dâk-bungalow on the Old Road; Mussoorie has a house haunted of a very lively Thing; a White Lady is supposed to do night-watchman round a house in Lahore; Dalhousie says that one of her houses “repeats” on autumn evenings all the incidents of a horrible horse-and-precipice accident; Murree has a merry ghost, and, now that she has been swept by cholera, will have room for a sorrowful one; there are Officers’ Quarters in Mian Mir whose doors open without reason, and whose furniture is guaranteed to creak, not with the heat of June but with the weight of Invisibles who come to lounge in the chairs; Peshawur possesses houses that none will willingly rent; and there is something—not fever—wrong with a big bungalow in Allahabad. The older Provinces simply bristle with haunted houses, and march phantom armies along their main thoroughfares.

The_Phantom_Rickshaw_&_Other_Eerie_TalesOriental ghost stories, we said, and let’s start with Kipling’s The Phantom Rickshaw and other ghost stories, that you can find in a variety of formats on Project Gutenberg.
The book was first published in 1888, but I think the Gutenberg edition is somehow later, because it includes an extra story, The Finest Story in the World, that’s not listed in the Wikipedia page devoted to the book.

The original stories in the book were written by Kipling in his twenties, and published by The Pioneer or the Civil and Military Gazette.

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Where the unreal’s real

Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936[11]My friend Clare, over at the Scribblings blog, just published a post about Kipling’s poetry and the voice of objects.
And she says…

Whenever I read one of these poems, I can’t help thinking of those Japanese legends where an object takes on some sort of life by long association with and use by human beings… A concept I’ve always found highly poetic.

I was trying to put together some form of intelligent comment, and then I thought, what the heck, I’ll write a post for Karavansara.
And here we are – fast and loose.
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On being a pedantic old fool

09-00,WTNM2It’s a sad fact I’m getting too old for this stuff.

No, ok, let me give you a little background on what happened today.
My friend Claire did a piece on her Italian blog, about Kipling’s science fiction stories.
Kipling’s two science fiction stories, meaning of course With the Night Mail and As Simple as ABC.

Which is all good and fine.
OK, Claire has a take that seems to me a little bit too dark on the stories, but apart from that, reading her piece was…


Because Claire is good, has a wide and deep knowledge of English literature and is doing a great series of posts for the Kipling anniversary, but you see, Rudyard Kipling did write quite a bit of science fiction.
According to John Brunner – and he’s pretty knowledgeable on the subject – Kipling did write at least nine science fiction stories. Continue reading


Dravot & Peachy

mankingYesterday afternoon we were discussing favorite adventure movies, with some friends online, and John Huston‘s The Man Who Would be King came up.

I saw the movie in the Colosseo cinema, in Via Madama Cristina, in Turin, in 1976, with my mother and my grandmother.
I wonder if today they’d let a not-yet-ten-years-old kid in the cinema to watch a movie that features (according to the current advisory)

Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, and Frightening/Intense Scenes.

Quite a package, and without mentioning British imperialism.
But those were different times, I guess1. Continue reading

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One hundred and fifty for Kipling

English: Kipling the British writer

English: Kipling the British writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been made aware – thanks to my friend’s Claire blog – of the fact that 2015 will be the Rudyard Kipling anniversary, one hundred and fifty years since his birth1.

Now Kipling is not so hot in Italy right now – I heard him recently labeled “an expression of British colonialism” and apparently the general belief hereabout is that by reading Kipling one will instantly feel the need to hunt for tigers, practice pig-sticking and kill the occasional Zulu warrior or Pathan at large. The lot, while riding on the back of an elephant2.

I’m probably weird myself, but the first stories that come to my mind thinking of Rudyard Kipling are Continue reading


The Man That Would Be King, John Houston – 1946


Click on Caine as Bond to get the full list of the blogathon participants

Something different for today’s post – Karavansara is participating in The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon promoted by the fine ladies managing the Silver Scenes Blog.
The idea is simple – post an article about a movie that might have been.
Being Karavansara a blog about adventure, pulp and the Orient – we have obviously picked a nice pulpy adventure movie set in the higher reaches of the Himalayas, and based on a famous novella by Rudyard Kipling.
Being somewhat perverse, we also dropped a few dollops of uchronia in the mix, and hid a few bonuses in the following post.
And so, here goes our entry.


Karavansara’s Imaginary Movie of the Week


Ava Gardner as Roxanne (photographer unknown)

. title: The Man That Would Be King
. year of production: 1946
. cast:

Clark Gable (Daniel Dravot)
Humphrey Bogart (Peachy Carnehan)
David Niven (Rudyard Kipling)
Ava Gardner (Roxanne)
Pedro Armendariz (Billy Fish)

. Directed by John Huston
. Screenplay John Huston, Leigh Brackett & Robert E. Howard, from the Rudyard Kipling  story of the same title
. Paramount
. Technicolor
. Plot in brief: former British Indian Army NCOs Dravot and Carnehan travel to a secluded Himalayan valley, planning to set themselves up as war lords. Through a series of weird coincidences, the two rogues rise to the status of gods, but in the end they lose everything. Only Peachy survives the ordeal, and comes back to relate the story of Dravot’s rise to power and fall from grace.

I will not bore you with how great this movie is.
I’ll leave it to others, better than me, to provide some further information. Continue reading