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The diaries of foreign visitors: stale stews?

travel, history

One is astonished at the deplorable level of ignorance, stereotypism and the lack of profundity displayed by foreign writers chronicling east. For a part of world that has seen activity for thousands of years uninterrupted these writings hardly do any justice. To be more precise there is no life in these writings.

Now let us examine as to how a foreigner views his trip to oriental nations. He has on his diary a list of important sites to visit and things to do but the purpose of the visit in most cases is neither concrete nor justifiable. Thus it ends up merely as a recreation exercise. Thus whatever is recorded as accounts is merely what meets the eye and thus with neither substance nor authenticity.

Take for example Indian diary of a foreign traveller. It contains elaborate descriptions of places of “historical” interest which are some tombs, some churches and some temples dating only to medieval ages and which hold no significance now. His writings are essentially discussions about the life surrounding those “monuments” which in no way influence the mainstream and which are certainly not the “remnants” or “protagonists” of that bygone era which he faithfully interprets them to be.

There are in his books normally discussions about “Indian history” that is predominantly centred around a few years in the late medieval ages and this is to be taken as an example of historic ancient civilization.

Essentially the visitor has to prioritize and objectivize his visit and purpose behind the same and display more valid and meaningful understanding of the taerrain he seeks to visit lest his works will be of no use.
Published: 2009-05-23
Author: K Sethu Madhavan

About the author or the publisher
A management professional with eight years experience in telecommunications industry, I have written a lot of articles in subjects related to management and strategic information analysis.

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