Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Travel Trick


The way itineraries, scraps in foreign scripts, immersion in the National Geographic atlas, submergence in Newby or Dinesen or a Merchant-Ivory film might set a home-bound traveler's heart racing, I add one more transporter.

Packages from abroad.

Airmail envelopes do the trick - rare enough to be quite sexy - but packages trump.

And lumpy bundles sewn into rough linen, closed with enormous wax seals, with return address:

Tashkent, UZBEKISTAN

trump any brown paper box tied up with string. From anywhere really - Uzbekistan might be our age's stand-in for Timbuktu (or Bulgaria, see earlier post).

My latest package was - I'm sure from the smell - sewn shut in a dusty Tashkent post office. Outside I sense there were ponies tethered. And surely the package-sewer (India had them too, like the letter-typer they have a title) went to have a chai/hookah/cheroot/bidi when the sewing was done.

My package traveled to me, and - for the home bound this is an imaginative leap you must take - it traveled for me and brought all that wonder with it.

What it brought: a Suzani.

C - hoping this doesn't sound too Nick Bantock-y

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