Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roof of the world

I have a few big spreads in the current issue of Le Figaro magazine, one of France's prominent magazine. You can see it here. It's titled "les afghans du toit du monde", "Afghans on the roof of the world". Why Roof of the world? Pourquoi Toit du Monde? ... et bien voila: the Pamir, or Pamirs rather, as there are several, is the original Roof of the world. Here from Wikipedia: "The name Roof of the World was first applied to the Pamirs. The British explorer John Wood, writing in 1838, described Bam-i-Duniah (Roof of the World) as a "native expression" (presumably Wakhi)." Also fascinating: Pamir highlands is the nodal point of the mountain systems of Tien- Shan, Kun-Lun, Karakoram, The Himalayas and Hindukush, and therefore called the roof of the world. Here in full.
Ah: I am ready to fight for this one. I know it's a lost battle, but Roof of the World is the Pamirs, it's the traditional, original term, and people should know that Tibet or worth, Mt Everest, is a term borrowed to the Pamir... take that!

A view of the Roof of the world and the story behind:

That's an image shot from the Tajik Air flight bringing me from Delhi to Dushanbe in 2004, flying of the Pamirs. It was in the evening and beside me Russian passengers were doing the inevitable Russian thing: having vodka shots. We were sitting face to face, like in a train, no one wearing safety belt - they were none anyway. We played cards and ended up staying in Dushanbe at the house of the guy sitting across from us.
I planned the same route to get to Tajikistan in 2008 and found out in Delhi that the flight didn't exist anymore... Damn... "Not enough donors" told me the Tajik ambassador in Delhi. "We need people to donate, you should donate so we can fly Delhi-Dushanbe!!!" And then he charged us 620 USD (six-hundred twenty american dollars!!!) for three 3 months Tajik visa. What a steal... To try and find an alternative flight was a total nightmare, I had to pull all my skills as an impatient travel agent - we went through Dubai in the end. See the full story here on Mareile's Blog of our 2008 family trip to Tajikistan.

Hey: I AM BACK IN HONG KONG, CHINA, after 5 months on the road - gotta go back to dusting off the office...

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