The Node Bulletins: Number Three
Kyrgyzstan, 28 June. Having put Tashkent behind us, we have begun the true expedition. Largely at the idiosyncratic insistence of Thoroughbrace, we are to follow a route that makes a clean sweep of the ‘stans’. We have already encountered Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and shall proceed from here to Tajikistan and Afghanistan, then over the Delhi Sang Pass into Pakistan. Bracers, as I have dubbed our transport executive, was petulant when I vetoed his suggestion that we backtrack to Kurdistan and later loop over into Chinese Turkestan. I mollified him by pointing out that both places are not at present countries as such, but regions, the latter partly in countries on our route anyway. A nice diplomatic touch, I thought.
Pugh continues to give cause for concern. Yesterday, he decided to hone his skills when leading us out of the last village we stayed in. This spot had only one street, running east-west. Not wishing to interfere, I allowed Pugh to guide us into the setting Sun for two hours before I remarked that the Pamir Mountains lay in the opposite direction. Retorting that he was merely testing us, Pugh agreed to an about turn. I took issue with him, but he was defended by Flatpole, whose basso profundo grunts reminded me of the call of a wild boar I once heard in the Carpathians.
We shall soon be obliged to abandon our vehicle and proceed on horseback. I shall not be sorry, as Thoroughbrace, initially quite amiable, has become querulous. I told him in London that we would need spare parts, but he appears to have infinite faith in his inventiveness, plus a large supply of yak gut. He is wrong, as we proved today, when we covered eight miles, the last six by pushing our car.
I shall have trouble maintaining the group’s morale, but am not downhearted.
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