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Archive for June 2012


Timbuctoo Update: hardcover, ebook, Q&A, and upcoming events

This is a limited edition hardcover of Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah, with non-wood paper, marbled end-papers, a pouch at the back with extra goodies, and silk bookmark.

Timbuctoo limited edition hardcover

Hello! I wanted to share a quick recap of news and coming events…


As you may already know, the Timbuctoo hardcover will be out next month. This is a very special edition, with six fold-out maps, marbled end-papers, a pouch at the back with goodies, a silk bookmark, and non-wood paper. It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon, or (if you’re in the US) you can enter for a chance to win one of six copies on Goodreads.

Once the book has been released, I will be holding pop-up sales in London, where you can get a signed copy. I’ll be sharing more details on this early next month.


The Timbuctoo e-book launch was initially set for August. However, the date has been changed, and Timbuctoo is NOW available on Kindle and other e-readers. Click on one of the links below to get your copy:

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

If you’d like a preview before you buy, you can download the first chapter in PDF. Hope you enjoy it!


In other news, I held my first AMA on Reddit yesterday afternoon. You can still access the questions and answers on Reddit, where the conversation will be archived. If you have any other questions for me, I will be holding an Author Q&A on Goodreads from July 1-15. Several conversation threads have already been set up, so please introduce yourself and feel free to get started asking questions at any time. I will begin answering them on July 1.


If you’re in the UK, get ready for a Timbuctoo picnic, which will be held in London in mid-July. More details on that early next month. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather, as it will be held rain or shine.

June 23, 2012 Posted by tahir in Travel

Reddit IAmA: 2pm BST/10am ET on June 25th

If you’re not already a Redditor, sign up now and get ready for my IAmA on Monday, June 25th at 2pm BST, 10am ET. Did that sentence just sound like gibberish to you? Read on.

What is a Redditor?

It’s a registered user of Reddit, which is a social news website, similar to Digg. It’s a place where people can submit content, in the form of either a link to something on the web, or a ‘self’ post, which is text or commentary. Other users then vote the submission ‘up’ (kind of like a Facebook ‘like’) or ‘down’ (like that ‘dislike’ button people keep asking for on Facebook), which is then used to rank the post and determine its position on both the page where it was originally posted and also on the home page. Once a conversation gets going on the original post, you can also upvote or downvote individual comments.

What is IAmA?

It’s a subreddit, or category, on the website. It means just what it sounds like: IAmA stands for ‘I am a’. In an IAmA post, a person will describe what is noteworthy about who they are (career or significant life event, etc.), and others will ask the original poster (OP) questions related to whatever it is that is unique about them.

What is AMA and AMAA?

AMA stands for ‘ask me anything’, and AMAA means ‘ask me almost anything’.

What do I do now?

If you’re interested in participating, sign up as a registered user on Reddit and then head over to the IAmA page on Monday between 2pm and 4pm BST, 10am and 12pm ET. I’ll be there to answer any questions you may have. Not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas:

  • This year I make the move from traditional publishing to self publishing. Find out more.
  • I also make the move from travel writing to fiction. Discover what that was like.
  • If you’ve read The Caliph’s House, you know about our ordeal with the jinns. Find out whether the exorcism did the trick.
  • You may be wondering whether Morocco is all I thought it would be. Maybe you’re even thinking of moving here yourself.
  • If you’ve read Sorcerer’s Apprentice, you may be curious about whether everything that I wrote about actually happened.
  • Are you a writer? Ask me about my tricks, tips, and rituals for writing.
  • Debating about whether you should self publish your next book or hold out for a publishing contract? Ask me what I think.


I hope to see you there. If you’ve never used Reddit before, please don’t be afraid. It’s a lively community, and a great place to join an online conversation about your favourite interests. Try something new, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back!


June 13, 2012 Posted by tahir in Travel

RSS Feed Update

Just a quick note to let you know that the RSS feed has been updated for this blog. It’s now easier to subscribe using Feedburner. Just click on the RSS symbol on the website header, or on the above link. Thanks!


Top 10 YouTube Videos

As you may have noticed, I’ve been much more active on YouTube in the past couple of months. I thought I’d share with you a list of the videos which have received the most views in the past three months. Some are new videos, and some were uploaded three years ago, when I first joined YouTube.

Do you have ideas for new videos? Please let me know in the comments what you’d like to see. Thanks!

  1. The Story of Timbuctoo
  2. Afghan Gold, Part 1 of 5
  3. Search for King Solomon’s Mines, Part 1 of 4
  4. Pakistani Torture Jail, Part 1 of 8
  5. Tahir Shah on Desi DNA
  6. Dar Khalifa: 5 minute tour of Tahir Shah’s home
  7. Tahir Shah’s Guide to Casablanca
  8. Tahir Shah is Interviewed by Ariane Shah
  9. Tahir Shah on Downtown Casablanca
  10. Tahir Shah on Publishing

Most of these videos have already been updated to include Spanish subtitles.

June 9, 2012 Posted by tahir in Travel

Kabul airport, Afghanistan

Daydreams and nightmares are the currency of Kabul airport, a realm awash with raw adrenaline, lost hope and off-the-scale corruption. For those flying out, the Afghan capital’s airport has a warm hazy aura. Get to the ramshackle departure lounge and you’ve run a terrifying gauntlet. By the time you reach the broken plastic chairs on the upper level, and the stall selling Marlboros, flat Perrier and stale Pringles, you’ve most likely been threatened and patted down hard. A stream of crooked officials are on standby, eager to coax stray weaponry from your underwear. And they’ll gladly extract a few last dollars too (no worn bills, please) for the privilege of a boarding card.

For those landing at Kabul airport, entering the squalid belly of the terminal building is like stepping into a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie: guns, guns, and more guns – most of them strapped to towering mercenary types with blonde ponytails and cast-iron jaws. The last time I flew out of Kabul, my film crew and I were relieved of all our Super 16 exposed film – a month’s work. The reason? We didn’t have $20,000 in cash for a last-minute bribe.

From The Guardian article ‘Travel writers’ favourite tiny and unusual airports

What’s your favourite tiny and unusual airport? Have you been to any of the airports on this list?