Hilarious, but restrained writing. Eric Newby was earning his living in London in the haute couture trade, but he went on this crazy journey in the wild mountains north-east of Kabul. The Times Literary Supplement called it "tough, extrovert, humorous, and immensely literate." There are several good black and white photographs, but the few maps were a bit disappointing.
Here are a few of the sentences Newby found listed as opening gambits in the Bashgali language phrase book he took along with him:
I saw a corpse in a field this morning.
How long have you had a goitre?
A dwarf has come to ask for food.
I have nine fingers: you have ten.
I have an intention to kill you.
A gust of wind came and took away all my clothes.
Why do you kick my horse? I will kick you.
How many black spots are there on your white dog's back?--and the answer: He is a yellow dog all over, and not spotted.
These are on p.166. If they don't make a person want to read this book, I don't know what would.
Wandering through this book was, for me, liking taking a walk down memory lane. If you want to travel to a place without having to get on a plane this is the way to do it. Without lots of self aggrandizement and pondering on the meanings of life this book presents a slice of the area and encourages the read to reflect for themselves.