DANZIGER’S TRAVELS – NICK DANZIGER (incomplete)

1. For to me the essence of travel, especially to remote places, is precisely that you are on your own. There are no printed guides and maps to help you, and so the only way to see the place you are visiting is through the eyes and with the help of the people who live there. (p.2)

2. The routes were determined by the natural contours of the land, following rivers, picking up oases, crossing passes, skirting where possible deserts and mountain ranges. The modern traveller using them encounters barriers of a different kind. He is not stopped by sand, rock or rain, but by politics: the closed frontiers of countries which, unsure of their own internal control, wish to shut out foreign influence. (p.8)

3. I had no desire at all to join the present trend for travelling long distances in eccentric ways, like cycling or hiking all the way. My journey would be one of discovery, and its object would be to promote greater understanding of the peoples along its route; it would not be a journey about me; it would be a journey about them. (p.8)

4. I have found that a camera distances you from the people you are among, at worst singling you out as a tourist; and I feel that photographing people especially makes them into objects of curiosity and somehow robs them, and me, of dignity. The compromise I reached was never to carry my cameras openly. I hid them in a small khaki bag. And I remained wary of taking photos of people, often envying other travellers who were less fastidious. (p.13)

5. I had a schedule mapped out but it was a safe bet that the vagaries of travel would soon make a nonsense of it. (p.16)

6. You have quickly to forget any western sense of time or urgency and you have to become more philosophical, too, because the more agitated you become, the slower everything seems to go. (p.31)

7. It is a cool, twilight world. (p.36)

8. The personal self-advancement on which the west operates has little place in their lives. (p.56)

9. Usually I feel nothing but disdain for the diplomatic and expatriate way of life, which, it seems to me, can only ever arouse resentment among locals, because diplomats and expats almost never enter into the spirit of their host country, often not even bothering to learn the language. (p.63)

10. That I went to their parties at all was because their sadness attracted me (sadness does), and I flattered myself that my presence might in some way alleviate their melancholy. (p.70)

11. I dumped my bags on the rack and went back to say goodbye to Sadeeq. I hated that moment. I was lost for words, and ‘thank you’ seemed hopelessly inadequate. I’d bought him a Persian translation of a Zola novel and I gave him one of the six Churchill commemorative coins that Fellows are given to distribute on their journeys. The parting was made worse by the fact that the friendship had been too brief, that it had been lopsided in that he had done far more for me than I for him, and that in all likelihood we would never meet again.

In the end, ‘goodbye’ had to say it all. ‘Khoda hafeez!‘ I shouted to him as the train drew out of the station. (p.98)

12. (…) and, as one thought drifted into another in that hopeless, unconnected way when sleep beckons, I imagined undressing veiled women… (p.106)

13. Maybe my practical reaction came to save me from a more emotional one. (p.135)

14. (…) white-bearded faces like walnuts, (…) (p.142)

15. (…) – one old man looked exactly like some retired major from Surrey, (…) (p.152)

16. It would be all too easy to become involved with these people for romantic or sentimental reasons, but if I had no absolute commitment, then such an undertaking would be pointless. (p.155)

17. The westerner’s disease of visiting, doing one’s bit and then leaving. (p.155)

18. With my rebellious stomach I felt at a low ebb as I rested and wrote up my journal. I was not personally very pleasant, either, as I was both sweaty and grimy. At the back of my mind, too, was the old fear that I was not master of my fate, and another source of irritation was the villagers themselves. Of course they meant well, but they had no conception of my need for occasional privacy. It is not unusual for a mosque to double as the village inn and community hall, and so I had visitors every hour of the day. I would fall asleep under the curious, unwavering gaze of silent villagers, and wake up to find them still there, still staring. (p.158)

19. Real thirst is an indescribable thing. (p.161)

20. (…) within three hours the truck, our clothes, our skin were all the same desert colour. (p.168)

21. We spent the rest of that night and the whole of the next day holed up tensely at an oasis, marking time under the shadow of the tree, (…) (p.172)

22. The children, her as elsewhere, were a merry, motley crew, caked in dirt and dressed in rags. (p.231)

 

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