Books have been the only constant thing in my life over the past thirty years as I have travelled and worked in most remote corners of Asia. from the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan, to the deserts of Turkmenistan, from the islands of Sulawesi to Laamu Island in the Maldives .........
Usually at the end of a three to six year assignment, I pack my books into a container, and ship them on to the next assisgnment. Normally I find some hand-me-down book shelves to display my books on or buy some cheap ones. This time I promised my well worn and well travelled books, " you are going to have the best book shelf I can get made in Colombo." And they got it.
So now my 600 plus books proudly stand on a new teak wood, made by a master craftsman who took two months to locate trhe best timber, to season it, assemble it, and to give it many layers of a matt finish
The most well worn book is my favourite, " When Men and Mountains Meet - the Exploration of the Western Himalayas which I purchased in a small bookshop in Madras in 1980. I could either entertain you for hours, or possibly bore you for hours, as to where many of these books were found, purchased or bartered. Bazaars and booksellers in Peshawar, Kabul, Herat, Kathmandu, Meshad, Samarkand, Kashgar, Kangra, Ashgabad, Simla, Dushanbe, Merv, Bukhara, Turkistan, Almaty. Bishkek, Khorog, Kandahar, Lahore, Osh, Pokhara, Manali, Kaza, Dharamsala, Chamba, Dalhousie,Darjeeling, Balkh, Dhaka, Delhi, Jakarta, Male, Calcutta, Bombay, Saigon, Pleiku, Manila - have all yeilded to this collection.
Any rare or priceless books I have put into instutions or safe private collections for safe keeping and wider accessability, for example: http://bobmckerrow.blogspot.com/2010/07/home-for-very-rare-book-herman-buhl.html a place where I deposited one of the many rare books I have parted with.
And which is the most well worn, the most refered to book in the collection ?
WHERE MEN AND MOUNTAIN MEET BY JOHN KEAY. I have three copies of it, two dog-eared copies that have been up more valleys, more mountains, more passes than many mountaineers. It has been my constant guide since I discovered it in a small bookshop in Madras in 1980. Since then I have tried to visit ever river, every valley, every pass listed on the maps in the book. See article I wrote on this: http://bobmckerrow.blogspot.com/2008/06/having-now-visited-all-places-mentioned.html
So now I have my book collection housed in a natural home, and I think of all the year's of reading ahead.