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Listen to Excess Baggage for

12 May 2007


The Khyber Pass lies on the northwest frontier of Pakistan and links Peshwar with Bactria in Afghanistan. Forever associated with the British in India, it has also played a significant part for many other traders and invaders, from Alexander the Great onwards, who came to India by land from the west.

In his first book, The Khyber Pass, Paddy Docherty charts the remarkable history of this area.

John McCarthy
also talks to two writers who have experienced the links between Britain and India but from opposite perspectives. 

Indian author, Iqbal Ahmed, has travelled in Britain looking at the capital and some significant towns and recounts his experience in Empire of the Mind – A Journey Through Great Britain. British poet and novelist, Mike Stocks, spent some time in Tamil Nadu in southern India and used the lives of the ordinary people he met and observed as a setting for his novel White Man Falling.

Presented by John McCarthy

Khyber Pass

Photo:  Khyber Pass

This week’s guests:

Paddy Docherty 
was born in Scotland and raised in Gloucestershire.  He has lived in Africa and the Middle East, has worked as a ranch hand, a chef, an oil and gas consultant, an internet entrepreneur, a shipbroker and an investment banker.  His graduate research into British imperial history led him to the North West Frontier where he travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the winter of 2003 to find out first hand about The Khyber Pass.

The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion: A History
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN-10: 0571219772
ISBN-13: 978-0571219773

Iqbal Ahmed is originally from Srinagar in Kashmir and moved the UK in 1994 to become a writer. Kashmir at the time only had one bookshop and no libraries. At first Iqbal worked in a small bookshop and then became a concierge in large hotel in Central London. Iqbal wrote his second book Empire of the Mind – A Journey Through Great Britain to go to places that he would not otherwise have visited in the UK.

Empire of the Mind – A Journey Through Great Britain
Publisher: Constable and Robinson
ISBN-10: 1845295161
ISBN-13: 978-1845295165

Sorrows of the Moon – A Journey Through London
Publisher: Constable and Robinson
ISBN-10: 184529517X
 ISBN-13: 978-1845295172

Mike Stocks first went to India as a young backpacker.  His first trip to Bombay remains vividly in his memory and engraved in his senses the sights, sounds and smells of the crowd.  His extraordinary experience of being part of the ethnic minority put into perspective the issues of ethnic minorities he had been aware of in Britain but not fully understood until he got to India.
His book White Man Falling is set in a fictitious town called Mallaipuram in Tamil Nadu, the area of India inland from Pondicherry.  It is an amalgam of various small towns in the region.  Mike has been there four times for fairly lengthy stays, his last one lasted six months.

White Man Falling
Publisher: Alma Books Ltd
ISBN-10: 184688036X
ISBN-13: 978-1846880360

Tamil Nadu - government website

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Travel Advice Notices aim to ensure that British travellers are well prepared before departure

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John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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