The gap between China and the United States is shrinking as China is the only major economy expected to report economic growth for 2020 despite the pandemic. And brawling with itself at some crossroad truck stop far over the horizon lay my lost homeland.
Paul Salopek is walking around the world. He’s at work on a book about his experiences. Two things leap from his essay in the NYTimes: (1) the eloquence of a prize-winning journalist; (2) the intrepidity bordering on death wish of his undertaking, partnered with a capacity for punishing exertion and privation.
Walking through Afghanistan in 2017, I saw how little the outside world’s disdain for Central Asia has changed since then… The only visible evidence of America’s catatonic, $2 trillion war in Afghanistan was the exhausted face in my pocket shaving mirror.
… Meanwhile, the world walks on. And the ground slopes east toward an Asian century… In Kazakhstan, Chinese workers dressed in spotless coveralls came out to gape as I led my cargo horse through their colossal oil field. I must have seemed a raggedy apparition from the distant past, some mirage conjured by the wild steppe. I felt like one. They fed me ice cream.
(Paul Salopek, “Shadows on the Silk Road,” NYTimes, 1-16-21)
(c) 2020 JMN