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I spent many years writing The Orchid House Art Smuggling and Appointments in India and Afghanistan. I think I started this book in 2002 and it was published by Kindle/Amazon in March 2012. Of all the books I have done I think this is the book I feel closest to....
I believe I wrote this book because it tells of places in Western Asia that have utterly changed in the last half century. The world I travelled to was open to anyone but very, very few people made these journeys. They were unbelievably hard. oing eastwards across Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and, finally, to India and Calcutta no one went to these places ... in 1961 I made this trip from Calcutta to Istanbul for $10.
During the 1960s, India came into its own as . . . the place to be. In Istanbul, Tehran, and Kabul, the fabulous freaks gathered for their final push to India. Once there, a whole new world awaited . . . In India, for ten dollars you could live perfectly well for a month. In India, if it was your thing, dope was even cheaper than food. In India in 1968, the Beatles were meditating in Rishikesh. In India, hundreds of thousands of young firangi had made the long journey from Europe across the deserts of the Middle East to reach the Himalaya. In India, 36,000 miles of the cheapest third-class trains in the world carried travelers anywhere they wanted over an entire subcontinent. In India, hotels cost four cents a night. In India, you dropped out. In India, you could get lost . . .
For a brief fifteen-year period (1959-1973), Far Asia was open to foreigners. The difficult three-day crossing of the Afghan Dasht-i-Margo, "the Desert of Death," would become, for those who made it, a memory of one of greatest travel epochs of the twentieth century. Now, however, these overland journeys of the 60s are as distant from today as the travels of Marco Polo in the thirteenth century. In the twenty-first century, Far Asia has changed completely, along with whole landscapes which have been subsumed by newly created mega cities.
The Orchid House: Art Smuggling and Appointments in India and Afghanistan is a rare first-hand account by one of the first “world travelers” of a new generation to reach India. The book is also about finding art, collecting art, and smuggling art by a man who was amongst the first of a new generation of collectors of Indian art. In Bombay, thousand-year-old Indian art objects could be bought for a few dollars literally on the street pavements.
Author’s statement, The Orchid House:
"In 1959 I was eighteen years old. I travelled to Afghanistan and India, because this was as far away from America as I could get and still be on the planet earth. From San Francisco it was a twenty-seven day ocean trip across the Pacific to Yokohama. In Japan you took a thirty-four day fourth class deck passage on a dilapidated French ship to Hong Kong. Crossing the hot southern oceans you reached Saigon, Singapore, Colombo, and finally India.
In 1959 buying Indian art was not a criminal activity, but taking art out of India was. In 1959 I became an art criminal. My crime was moving my art any place I wanted across international borders.
The Amazon Kindle Edition is available Here:
From a review on Amazon: "Orchid House is nothing less than a terrifying view of the inner life of a boy who chooses a life of passion and adventure at all cost. If you would like to explore an extraordinary existence only made possible by willing acceptance of unusual hardship along the untrodden path, I highly recommend this book. Billed as being about art and smuggling, it is, in fact, a startling glimpse of a unique and consciously chosen life. For those further interested in Worswick's adventures and what he saw, he has published numerous books with reproductions."