Listen. “It’s all bosh.”
Hailstorm chases steeds
haiku by ©2019 M. LaFreniere, inspired by a travel account from 1894
I picked up this book for a few bucks: a bound volume of the 1894 issues of the Century Magazine. Opening it randomly, I found the third part of the account of two guys bicycling across Asia. A bit on the dry side but it’s interesting. How did two bicyclists end up with an armed escort that they didn’t even want? Looks like they were paying for them too until Mother Nature lent a hand. Looks like I may have to back up to check out parts one and two. And why did they say “our alleged ascent of Ararat”? You would think they would know if they rode up a mountain. (what? you were expecting an ode to my sore working feet? I thought I’d give you guys a break.)
Across Asia on a Bicycle by Thomas Gaskell Allen, Jr., William Lewis Sachtleben
The Century Magazine, July 1894, Vol. XLVIII, No. 3
(excerpt from part 3, first three paragraphs, pg 389)
“It is all bosh,” was the all but universal opinion of Bayazid in regard to our alleged ascent of Ararat. None but the Persian consul and the mutessarif himself deigned to profess a belief in it, and the gift of several letters to Persian officials, and a sumptuous dinner on the eve of our departure, went far toward proving their sincerity.
On the morning of July 8, in the company of a body-guard of zaptiehs, which the mutessarif forced upon us, we wheeled down from the ruined embattlements of Bayazid. The assembled rabble raised a lusty cheer at parting. An hour later we had surmounted the Kazlee Gool, and the “land of Iran” was before us. At our feet lay the Turco-Persian battle-plains of Chaldiran, spreading like a desert expanse to the parched barren hills beyond, and dotted here and there with clumps of trees in the village oases. And this, then, was the land where as the poets say, “the nightingale sings, and the rose-tree blossoms,” and where “a flower is crushed at every step!” More truth, we thought, in the Scotch traveler’s description, which divides Persia into two portions — “One desert with salt, and the other desert without salt.” In time we came to McGregor’s opinion as expressed in his description of Khorassan. “We should fancy,” said he, “a small green circle round every village indicted on the map, and shade all the rest in brown.” The mighty hosts whose onward sweep from the Indus westward was checked only by the Grecian phalanx upon the field Marathon must have come from the scattered ruins around, which reminds us that “Iran was; she is no more.” Those myriad ranks of Yenghiz Khan and Tamerland brought death and desolation from Turan to Iran, which so often met to act and react upon one another that both are now only landmarks in the sea of oblivion.
Our honorary escort accompanied us several miles over the border to the Persian village of Killissakend, and there committed us to the hospitality of the district khan, which whom we managed to converse in the Turkish language, which, strange to say, we found available in all the countries that lay in our transcontinental pathway as far as the Great Wall of China. Toward evening we rode in the garden of the harem of the khan, and at daybreak the next morning were again in the saddle. By a avery early start we hoped to escape the burden of excessive hospitality; in other words, to get rid of an escort that was an expensive nuisance. At the next village we were confronted by what appeared to be a shouting, gesticulating maniac. On dismounting, we learned a harbinger had been sent by the khan, the evening before, to have a guard ready to join us as we passed through. In fact, two armed ferashes were galloping toward us, armed, as we afterward learned, with American rifles, and the usual kamma, or huge dagger, swinging from a belt of cartridges. These fellows, like the zaptiehs, were fond of ostentation. They frequently led us a roundabout way to show us off to their relatives or friends in a neighboring village. Nature at last came to our deliverance. As we stood on a prominent ridge taking a last look at Mount Ararat, now more than fifty miles away, a storm came upon us, showering hailstones as large as walnuts. The ferashed with frantic steeds dashed ahead to seek a place of shelter, and we saw them no more.
— end of excerpt —-
Hope you enjoyed the excerpt. I may back up and read the bit of their riding up Mount Ararat. Do you want to read it too?
I am going to get back to Basho too but am needing a slower entry before I commit to doing a regular thing again. Plus I want to buy some of the Basho’s translations as I had to return them all as they were Interlibrary loans. So that will be done with a November paycheck.
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You can use the search bar to do an Amazon search as I did with “cycling across asia”. The results will vary. I thought it was pretty cool that when I did that Across Asia on a Bicycle: The Journey of Two American Students from Constantinople to Peking popped up. That’s actually the serialized Century Magazine account in a book. I didn’t realize it had been a book to begin with and was republished in fairly recent times as a paperback. Now I know what the bicyclists look like. A couple of other books had come up when I tried different search terms that I thought looked cool. The Road to San Donato: Fathers, Sons, and Cycling Across Italy (an American father and son tracing their Italian heritage by bicycle-425 miles) and Crazy Cycling Chick: The Inspirational Journey of Angie Across America (I love the title: crazy cycling chick. I would have thought it would be the title of her blog but the blog is called Angie across America instead.).
I’ve linked to the books rather than to kindle versions (but you can if you want) because my kindle is broken. Glares at my kindle. A whole library of books in there — and I can’t touch them. This is the harbinger of the future, I tell you. Billions of books will disappear because bam! technology changes, becomes obsolete and they will be stuck in old broken machines with dead batteries — no access. Sighs. Give me a good paperback. Yes, they fall apart but slowly. And one day someone will dig one up and will find a fragment of a page and wonder what the rest of the story was. Much more intriguing than a dead kindle.