Notes from a fascinating world.
The world is like a bazaar, full of interesting odds and ends, and I've been exiled into it. This is my all-over-the-map (literally and metaphorically) attempt at capturing some of the world's many wonders.
Last month I was on Easter Island. Legally a part of Chile, the island is really part of the great Polynesian triangle whose other two points are Hawaii and New Zealand, where I grew up.
Easter Island is of course famous for its Moai statues. At various “ahu” or shrines where the Moais stand, signs in English and the native Polynesian language, in an effort to stop visitors from climbing on top of sacred rocks, read, “STOP — TAPU.”
In March 2001, a group of uncouth men sporting thick beards walked up to two figures standing inside two niches carved into an arid, craggy stone face in the heart of Afghanistan. The men strapped dynamites to the stoic figures unmoved by the menacing men and what they were doing. The men walked away and detonated the explosives. Yellow fireballs shrouded the figures. When the dust subsided, they were no more.
No one died there in Bamiyan from the explosions on that day. But an important piece of not only Afghan but world history was lost. The uncouth men were Taliban militiamen on orders to destroy the “gods of the infidels.” The two figures were stone buddha statues. They had overlooked the Bamiyan valley since the 6th century. And now they were two sorry piles of rubbles.
Writer, traveler, lawyer, dilettante. Failed student of physics. Not altogether distinguished graduate of two Ivy League institutions. Immigrant twice over. "The grand tour is just the inspired man's way of getting home."