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Beyond the devil's teeth By Tahir Shah

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Ok what is the book about, well basically the author discovers a Mughal Knife in an antiques stall in London, and sells it in auction and gains a few thousand pounds. When he buys the knife he recollects that the knife was a design common to a race of people that inhabited Gondwandaland which is a land long ago which encompassed India, Parts of Africa, and South America when the continents were joined together (whether these people are real or fictitious i do not know - becasue I thought that the continents were joined millions of years ago - maybe billions but who knows). The author recollects a trip that he had to central India to a place called Gond where by chance he encountered an Indian Academic who had knowledge about the Gonds in India, the academic seeing the interest that the author has in his town, gives him a history of Gondia and tells him of the history of the Gonds.

Initially the author sets out to India to discover 'treasures' i.e. antiques which he can sell and make a lot of money, in the end he falls in love with Bombay and India and spends a lot of time there and discovers a motley of weird and wonderful characters. He soon finds that his quest for treasure is fruitless, but he has a greater desire to discover more about the supposed land of the Gonds, he also has a desire to find about a type of good black magic called Macumba, which is native in Africa and South America - and of course on the way he discovers all manner of weird and wonderful and diverse peoples, cultures, individuals - for example in India he is directed to a 'mystic' who hears of his desire to buy treasure, who is infact a native of Afghanistan and a former Mujahideen who mistakens his desire to buy 'treasure' for that of buying weapons, another example, his sister is a war correspondent in Afghanistan - she tells him to come immediately saying that she has 'treasure' - but when he get's there the 'treasure' turns out to be apples from orchards from his native home in Afghanistan - this is just a taster of the adventures that he has.

All in all - I couldn't put the book down - I did not know what to make of the author, he abviously has a Muslim name - but is more of an anthropologist/adventurer. One valuable lesson that I took away after reading this book is the author's valuable characteristic of trust, looking to the better side of human nature, positive spirit, open mindedness - for example in South America the author is forced to share a room in his hotel with a japanese tourist called Kiato - the natural reaction by most people would be outrage, but the author allows Kiato to share the room and they then travel across vast stretches of South America together and become fast friends another example is in India in the hotel that he is staying the staff regularly steal from him, and his possessions often end up on street stalls outside the hotel - but he accepts that and it doesn't phase him in the least - but is simply something matter of fact. You tend to wonder whether he is eccentric, mad, or simply has the most embracing and accepting outlook to life. All in all a riveting read 10/10 the best travel/adventure books that I have read


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