This is a dazzling account of a
swiss-based adventurer and his friend and their travails across Asia Minor. Nicolas Bouvier came from a respectable,
well-to-do family in Geneva.
At age 24, he decided to adopt a nomadic way of life and did the unthinkable.
He decided to embark on a difficult and dangerous journey through the Balkans,
Turkey and Persia to Afghanistan in a rusty rickety fiat along with his artist
friend Thierry Vennet encountering both hardships as well as unique sights
along the way. This book is a first person’s narrative of the same.
Bouvier had a poetic sensibility
with words, a charming lyrical style of writing that tends to bewitch the
reader. His writing suggests curiosity, tolerance and hardiness; all the ideal
virtues of a travel writer. The pair of them was in total contrast to their
surroundings, which comprised a concoction of eastern races like the Armenians,
Azeris, Turks and Tabrizis each with its unique idiosyncrasies. There is also a
sense of pessimism permeating the account with instances of a French priest
preaching in the absence of a congregation in the hope of proselytizing and a
seller of wood who waters his logs to make them heavier. Bouvier also talks
about the transplanting of western influences on an oriental way of life as he
comes across a group of Americans trying to bring modern ideas to uplift the
backward races of Asia and its impracticality.
There are few panoramas here with little describing the King of Afghanistan and
even less describing the cities.
Bouvier does not ponder much
over the esoteric or spectacular, rather he is much more interested in the
permanent and visible as can be seen from his account. He wrote little else
worth remembering but this one book is worth its weight in gold as his claim to