As I have already mentioned, I am busy reading ‘The Travels of Ibn Battutah’ (edited by Tim Mackintosh-Smith). It is a most delightful exercise. Going through the pages one can look back at a man and a world more than 7oo years old. I have this fascination for ancient travelogues. For some reason, their honest, unadorned prose appeals more than the florid excesses of contemporary writers. I will be updating you about my progress with this medieval adventure. For starters, the Berber scholar’s reason to wander the earth:

“My departure from Tangier, my birthplace, took place on Thursday, the second month of God, Rajab the Unique, in the year Seven Hundred and Twenty Five, with the object of making the Pilgrimage to the Holy House at Mecca and of visiting the tomb of the Prophet, God’s richest blessing and peace be on him, at al-Madinah. I set out alone, having neither fellow-traveller in whose companionship I might find cheer, nor caravan whose party I might join, but swayed by an overmastering impulse within me and a desire long-cherished in my bosom to visit these illustrious sanctuaries. So I braced my resolution to quit all my dear ones, female and male, and forsook my home as birds forsake their nests. My parents being yet in the bonds of life, it weighed sorely upon me to part from them, and both they and I were afflicted with sorrow at this separation. My age at that time was twenty-two lunar years.”

Image Attribution: The image above is sourced from Wikimedia Commons and based on an illustration from the ‘L’Homme et la Terre Tome 3’ (part of a six volume series) by the French geographer-writer, Élisée Reclus. The six volumes were produced between 1876 and 1894. ‘L’Homme et la Terre Tome’ translates as ‘The Earth and Its Inhabitants’. Reclus was a political activist and had been expelled from France in 1872.