Thursday, September 6, 2007

Chapter 12. The Mouth of the Lion River

After a second flight, I wound up in western Tibet, not anyplace I'd ever heard of but, after a few hops, on to a small landing strip somewhere near Lake Manosawar. I don't think I spelled that right. It's the holiest of mountains; even today people are circumventing it to avoid going to hell or something. Their numbers include a couple of actual, bona-fide American hippies. We haven't spoken, but I can tell. Tradition had it that the Indus started here, but I don't think anyone believes it any more.

I have a cheap camera/cell phone, to send photos of locations back to Ivan who is in Kazakstan, I think. One never knows. And he finds a way to have books waiting for me, no matter where I go. I carry with me the one he handed me, The Price of Things by Elinor Glyn. It's about war and spies and honor, in outdated, even racist terms -- written by someone who obviously believed the English were the finest humans by virtue of their 'blood,' and the nobility, even finer.

But she has written one character with brilliance, a character I've never seen in literature, the 'Calmuk,' Stepan Verisschenzko. And Ivan who is kind and, in my plebian American view, seems as noble as a human can be, looks almost exactly as she describes Stepan. And when he spoke to me, he was quoting this character.

I wonder if he is some kind of relative, descended from the real person who inspired Stepan's character? For the first time in my life, I'm living in an actual romantic mystery.

Well, dear Reader, night is falling and I must find lodgings in this small village. One finds Internet cafes more frequently than indoor sleeping opportunities.

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