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Author: Tahir

April 21, 2014 Posted by tahir in Travel

Top 10 Strangest Foods I've Eaten

Giant Tapir Leg, On the River of God, Peru


1. A monkey’s arm, Peruvian Amazon.

2. A live murrel fish, Hyderabad.

3. A soup bowl filled with fried unidentified insects, Bangkok.

4. Baby camel cooked in its mother’s milk, the Jordanian desert.

5. Giant tapir, Madre de Dios jungle, Peru.

6. A peccary rodent, Peruvian Amazon.

7. Stewed scorpions, northern Cambodia.

8. Yak-meat momos, Tibet.

9. Bumblebee soup, Beijing.

10. Chocolate-covered ants, Hong Kong.

April 14, 2014 Posted by tahir in Travel

Top 10 Absolute Favourite Books

The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux


  1. THE SONGLINES, by Bruce Chatwin
  2. THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, Richard Burton’s translation
  3. IRON & SILK, by Mark Salzmann
  4. THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF RELIGION & ETHICS, edited by James Hastings
  5. WEST WITH THE NIGHT by Beryl Markham
  6. UTZ, by Bruce Chatwin
  7. ARABIAN SANDS, by Wilfred Thesiger
  8. MOSQUITO COAST, by Paul Theroux
  9. WORKERS by Sebastiao Salgado
  10. DANGER MY ALLY, by F. A. Mitchell-Hedges

Top 10 Strangest People I Have Interviewed

Queen of the KKK, dolls in Pulaski, Tennessee


  1. A dwarf dealer in Cairo.
  2. A Kali godman in West Bengal.
  3. The last storyteller, Damascus.
  4. The snake handlers in Appalachia, Tennessee.
  5. Toureg healer in Jma al Fna, Marrakech.
  6. An Aissawa exorcist in Meknes.
  7. Linda Block, on Alabama’s Death Row.
  8. The official hangman of Calcutta.
  9. The grave robbers at Paracas, on the Peruvian coast.
  10. Rachel Pendergraft, leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Pulaski, Tennessee.
March 31, 2014 Posted by tahir in Travel

Top 10 Most Dangerous Travel Experiences

Tahir Shah swallows a live murrell fish in Hyderabad, India


  1. Spending 16 days in a Pakistani torture jail.
  2. Every moment of my search through Afghanistan for treasure.
  3. Getting lost in a storm while flying myself over northern Florida.
  4. Being swept away in a storm in the Madre de Dios River, Peru.
  5. A journey without maps through Baluchistan.
  6. Staying at the illegal gold mines of Shakiso, Ethiopia.
  7. Being arrested on the border of Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  8. Almost being hit by lightning in the Namibian wilderness.
  9. Swallowing a live fish in Hyderabad.
  10. Being lost at night somewhere in the Ethiopian Highlands.
March 26, 2014 Posted by tahir in Travel

Top 10 Worst Things to do Before a Journey

Tahir Shah


  1. Think too much.
  2. Spend too much on needless expensive equipment.
  3. Plan more than two days in advance.
  4. Boast to your friends and family where you’re going.
  5. Pack too much. Two changes of clothes are more than enough.
  6. Ask pseudo friends from work to come with you. Go alone!
  7. Read up on more than the basics about where you’re going.
  8. Doubt that you’ll have anything but an amazing time.
  9. Get anyone to plan your journey for you.
  10. Expect that you’ll make money from the trip.

Top 10 Favourite Travel Moments

Ramon of the Shuar, PeruThis is the first in a series of top ten lists. I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Reaching the top of the live Nyiragongo volcano in Congo.
  2. Crossing No Man’s Land between Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  3. Camping on the actual equator in Kenya.
  4. Taking Ayahuasca with the Shuar tribe in the Peruvian Amazon.
  5. Wandering the streets of Fès in the light of a full moon.
  6. Slipping under the locked iron door of a sealed pyramid in Egypt.
  7. Trekking through the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan.
  8. Crossing the Pampas in Argentina by train.
  9. Waking up on a hillside with yaks in Tibet.
  10. Being pulled up the cliff face of Debra Damo in Ethiopia.

Casablanca Blues Book Launch in London

CASABLANCA BLUES by Tahir ShahAre you free on Sunday, 20th October? Join me in central London for the book launch of Casablanca Blues. It’s a small event and tickets are limited. I’ll be presenting my new novel, Casablanca Blues. I’ll also be available for book signing.

I’d love to see you there! The venue has just allowed me to release more tickets, but they are going fast, so do sign up now if you’ll be in London on 20th October.

You can sign up below using the Eventbrite form:


Eye to Eye, not to be confused with EYE SPY

Is this a wild coincidence, or a message to me from the Universe?

(Another Tahir Shah, also obsessed with eyes).


As a side note, the paperback edition of EYE SPY should be out in the next 6-8 weeks. In the meantime, I’ve set up a contest on Goodreads to give away 6 signed advance copies on July 25th. That means that if you win a copy, you’ll have it before the book is available for purchase.

Enter now for a chance to win:


Q&A on storytelling and tradition...and The Tale of the Sands

30maro_slide05You are creating wonderful stories about what our heart is telling us, but today more than ever we fail to reconcile our heart and our mind. Why are they tugging us in different directions? What do you do when your mind shouts louder than your heart?

As you say, I am telling and creating stories, and that’s what’s so central here. Storytelling appeals to the default setting of mankind, the core programming that’s in-built within us. We don’t really know why, but culture is arranged around storytelling – revealing information, ideas, and entertainment through stories. We can’t help but retell experiences in this way because we are programmed to do it. And, bizarrely, most people have forgotten that humanity operates with stories as their language. I sometimes find myself wondering whether other animals, or even insects, do the same and tell stories as a matrix like we do.

At the same time as live to tell stories, we reside in a world that’s so incredibly at odds with the realm our ancestors knew. Yet, in this mad frenetic, frenzied stew of life, it’s the stories and the storytelling that present themselves as a recognizable thread – a kind of communal backbone to humanity. We grasp hold of stories whether they be in the form of a book, a Tweet, a blog entry, a TV commercial selling soap, a movie, or even in the guise of a video game.

You mention your father very often in your works. Would you say that your story is a sequel to his? To what extent are our hearts beating together with those of our ancestors’? Does our storytelling begin where theirs has stopped? Read more

May 30, 2013 Posted by tahir in Books

New Release: Three Essays


I’m very pleased to share with you the release of these three essays. Those who have read Eye Spy will be especially interested in the essay on cannibalism. They are all currently available online as individual purchases, and the three essay bundle will be available very soon.

The Legacy of Arab Science 

The Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth 

Cannibalism: It’s Just Meat