Friday 27 April 2012

Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity, — the Christian world, and the Mahometan world

"Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity, — the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous." (Dr. Johnson.) 

I have not yet gone beyond these worlds except to Bombay, Madagascar and Mauritius. Israel does not count, being part of both the Mahometan and Christian worlds. Delhi and Agra do not count either.

I wonder if he is right. Possibly, although the Chinese and Japanese would disagree. It all depends what you makes you curious. Barbarism and civilisation are more intermingled than in his day. Look at the United States for example.

But from the tourist point of view there might objects of curiosity in South-East Asia and China. Bombay, Madagascar and Mauritius were not interesting from the architectural or historical point of view though from the point of view of food India would be peerless were it not for the medical problems.

I am off to Ethiopia, the third oldest Christian country, and Zanzibar in August as a delayed birthday present to myself and will thus stay in the Christian and Mahometan worlds. Dubai where I stay en route is also Mahometan but I am not sure if it will be an object of curiosity. How much I want to go to Sana'a in the Yemen for 24 hours but it although I am a courageous traveller it seems foolhardy to go there at the moment, alas, though I am tempted. Sana'a is certainly an object of curiosity.


  1. Do you think that China, Japan and Korea are civilized to?

    1. Dr. Johnson did not but would not have known about them. Personally I found Burma less interesting than other places I've been - possibly because neither Christian nor Muslim and therefore very foreign? Islam is close enough to Christianity to be understandable. But I may be talking nonsense. I wonder why Asia beyond the Muslim world does not grab me.

    2. You didn't answer my question.

  2. I have not been to the latter two. And only a stopover in Peking, so can't really say.