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Tag: India

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May 30, 2013 Posted by tahir in Books

New Release: Three Essays

3Essays

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

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

The Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

Cannibalism: It’s Just Meat

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

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April 3, 2013 Posted by tahir in Books

New Releases from My Backlist

TS ebook series backlist

I’m very pleased to share with you the release of my travel backlist as ebooks. Each book has been updated with a new introduction, with the exception of Travels With Myself, my 2011 release. Trail of Feathers will also be available very soon.

Get your copy now: Read more

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April 26, 2012 Posted by tahir in Travel

Ten Worst Travel Moments

1. Being arrested, blindfolded, stripped, and flung into solitary at a Pakistani torture prison.

2. Being given the ‘rubber glove’ treatment on the border of Liberia and Sierra Leone when passing innocently through ‘Blood Diamond’ country.

3. Having dengue fever in the Madre de Dios jungle in Peru. That, along with having stomach problems, no skin on my feet, and worms burrowing out of me.

4. Having the most indescribably bad food poisoning in a locked down military area in Baluchistan, having eaten the sushi platter for four in Karachi the night before (a huge mistake).

5. Swallowing a live murrel fish in Hyderabad, a supposed cure for asthma.

6. Being lost and alone in a storm in a Cessna 152 somewhere above the Florida Panhandle, when I was aged 17 and learning to fly.

7. Being robbed of all my money, my travel documents and my luggage in the night on a train from Madrid to Algeciras.

8. Waiting for five days in a remote village in western Ethiopia for a truck to drive through so that I might have a chance to hitchhike to the next town and get stuck there.

9. Being on an organized tour of northern Namibia with retired workers from a ball-bearings factory in Dusseldorf (managed to escape, luckily).

10. Being lost at night on the live Niryagongo volcano in Congo with the threat of it erupting very likely.

How about you? What are your worst travel memories? Please share in the comments.

 

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April 6, 2012 Posted by tahir in Travel

Top Ten Strangest Meals I've Eaten

If you’ve read my books, you’re familiar with some of the unique things I’ve eaten over the years. Here is a list of my top ten strangest meals.
1. Half a roasted monkey, in the Peruvian Amazon. Tasted strangely human. How do I know? Well, I’m only guessing.
2. Masato beer (manioc root chewed by the old village crones and fermented in their saliva), in the Madre de Dios Jungle, Peru. I have drunk many gallons in my time and never quite got used to it.
3. Live Murrell fish, in Hyderabad. Part of a traditional cure for asthma. Severely unpleasant… for me and for the fish.
4. Dried Mopani worms, in Namibia. Crunchy. Very very crunchy.
5. Chocolate-covered leaf cutter ants. Actually ate them in London and was impressed, by the chocolate at least.
6. Crunchy chicken embryo in the shell, in Beijing. Indescribably horrid.
7. Fried scorpion, in a Bangkok street stall. Trying to forget that one.
8. Yak steak, in Lhasa. Tasty. Best of the lot.
9. Fugu (puffer fish), in Yokohama. Bizarre and memorable.
10. Haggis, in Edinburgh. Perhaps not weird to anyone else but as far as I’m cornered it’s way up there with roasted monkey and all the rest.
This may have piqued your appetite. If that’s the case, head over to one of the strangest firms I know of that sells some amazing stuff, especially the insects…http://www.edible.com/
Have you tried any of these unusual meals? If you had to choose one to try, which would it be?
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August 1, 2010 Posted by tahir in Travel

Raining cats, rats and dogs


In Mumbai…


Where I can’t remember the monsoon fiercer than it was yesterday. Torrents of water cascading down from the graphite sky… waterfalls ripping through the streets, pedestrians wading, pyedogs huddled miserably in doorways, traffic even more gridlock than ever.

How wonderful though to be back in this mesmerising city, one that I have watch change through twists and turns over two decades and more. The place is booming, although every layer of humanity can be found on each street corner. India defies description and sings to the imagination in ways that most countries could only hope to do.

This morning flying up to Delhi with Rachana and the kids… and planning to visit the Taj Mahal. In all the dozens of times I’ve visited India, I’ve never been there. In a strange way it all seemed too easy.

Overwhelmed with a childlike excitement.

TS
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Mathematics

As Astronomy developed so in tandem did mathematics and geometry. The great Arab polymaths changed the world in which live by their mastery of mathematics.

1.                               Without doubt the most important breakthrough was the language of mathematics: the introduction of ‘Arabic’ numerals from India, and their use for the first time of a decimal point.

2.                               Introducing Zero to mainstream mathematics was the other massive breakthrough: so enormous that we can hardly grasp its importance… the idea of representing nothing with a symbol.

3.                               In the ninth century Persian polymath al-Khwarizmi gave us Algorithms, which form the basis of most computer programming… indeed our word ‘Algorithm’ is derived from his name.

4.                               Al-Khwarizmi is credited with writing the first book on Algebra as well. It’s title was The Compendious Book on calculation by Completion and Balancing, and was published about 820 AD.

5.                               Arab mathematics honed the work of the Greeks, the Romans as well as that of South Asia. And this work was channelled directly into Europe through Islamic Spain and, with time, made available to the great minds of the Renaissance.



TS


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April 24, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

All Change

The kind of miracles often performed by Indian Godmen rely on a knowledge of chemicals, physics, and the environment, a kind of layer of information which many of us take for granted. Just as I am fascinated by the illusions conjured by these Godmen, I am also deeply interested in the science that makes them possible. Or, rather, I’m preoccupied by the history of that science, and how it came about.

Over the next few days, I’m going to write some notes — nothing too heavy — on how the science we all rely on every day (the very same that the Godmen rely on too) came to us all through Arab society, predominantly from the Abbasid era. I have touched on this before in my blog, by have long wanted to devote a little more time to it, so excuse me while I indulge myself…



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April 23, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Stick Needles in an Inflated balloon

You will need: One balloon, some needles or pins, a roll of scotch tape


I once met a Godman in Calcutta who was using a book of children’s conjuring and illusion to create miracles. The book he had in his possession was printed in 1931, and I’m not sure if this miracle was in there, but it might well have been. It’s a schoolboy’s favourite.

You take the balloon, blow it up, and stick one-inch bits of scotch tape in various places. Then, when the audience have turned up, and mustering theatrical flair, you ease the needles into the places where you have put the tape. The tape seals and rubber, and the balloon doesn’t burst.




TS


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April 22, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Set Sawdust Alight with Spit

You will need: very dry sawdust, powdered sodium peroxide


So many common Godmen miracles are based on fire, and this is a good example, as it’s cheap and easy to do. The Godman just needs to find a supply of sodium peroxide which, in India, is relatively easy, as chemicals are readily sold without any questions being asked.

the method involves the powdered sodium peroxide being mixed in with the sawdust before the performance. Before going on show, the Godman takes a big sip of water and, when he’s sitting in front of his audience, he spits the water out nearby on the sawdust. The chemical reaction of the sodium peroxide and the water causes fire, which combusts the sawdust.

NB: Godmen’s miracles such as this should not be attempted by children, or by anyone else except trainee Godmen.



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April 21, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Set Drying Clothes Alight

You will need: Yellow or white phosphorous in a solution of carbon disulphide (ration 1:6)


Pour a little of the solution on the clothes just before the audience assemble, and a few minutes later the clothes will spontaneously catch fire as the solution dries and ignites.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children or anyone else, except for trainee godmen.



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