Page 152. " about to complete the month of fasting "
Traditional Ramadan Lanterns in Cairo
Creative Commons AttributionTraditional Ramadan Lanterns in Cairo - Credit: B. Simpson Cairocamels

The month of fasting, Ramadan, is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Its precise dates vary from year to year as it follows the lunar calendar, but its duration is always 29-30 days. During this period Muslims must not eat, drink or have sexual relations between dawn and sunset; they must also refrain from bad character traits such as lying, gossip or slander. It is supposed to be a time for reflection and concentrated prayer.

Page 154. " Colorado, usually, or once in a while Vermont "

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeStowe Mountain Resort, Vermont - Credit: Stevage
 Colorado is one of the Western United States, encompassing most of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Its landscapes also include deserts, plateaus and canyons, but it is famous for its mountainous regions, popular amongst skiers.

Vermont is a state in New England, in the northeast of America. It borders Canada to the north and contains the Green Mountain Range. The climate is continental, with warm, humid summers but cold, snowy winters, and the mountains make good skiing. It is also America’s leading producer of maple syrup.

Page 156. " valuing a book publisher in Valparaiso, Chile "
Cerro Concepcion, Valparaiso
Creative Commons AttributionCerro Concepcion, Valparaiso - Credit: P R

 Valparaiso, midway down the western coast of Chile, is the third largest city in the country. One of Chile’s most important seaports, it has long served as a stopover for ships passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Straits of Magellan, and it is today an important cultural and tourist centre.

The National Congress of Chile was established here in 1990, and the city can also boast Latin America’s oldest stock exchange and the oldest Spanish language newspaper still in publication. The historic quarter of the seaport is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Google Map


Page 157. " dessert, a little rice pudding with sliced almonds and cardamom "

Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKheer - Credit: stu_spivack
Rice pudding, known as kheer, is a traditional and popular dessert in Pakistan. It is smooth in texture and usually flavoured with cardamom, kewra or saffron, with the addition of chopped nuts or fruits on occasion. Other versions are made with rice flour or with the addition of grated carrots, and all variants are traditionally served slightly set in a clay bowl.

Kheer recipe

Page 160. " I arrived in Santiago "


Public DomainSantiago - Credit: Metaforico
 Santiago is the capital of Chile, and the largest city in the country. It is in the country’s central valley, around an hour to the east of Valparaiso, which serves as the legislative capital still. Santiago is one of Latin America’s most modern and cosmopolitan cities – it features an underground system, high-rise buildings, a large financial district and many modern shopping centres and suburban developments. Few historical buildings survive due to the city being prone to earthquakes, but they include some beautiful examples of colonial architecture, such as the Municipal Theatre.


Page 163. " rendered peripheral by the Panama Canal "


Panorama of the Pacific Entrance of the Panama Canal
Creative Commons AttributionPanorama of the Pacific Entrance of the Panama Canal - Credit: Brian Gratwicke

The Panama Canal, built between 1904 and 1914, bisects the country of Panama and allows ships a direct passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, without having to travel around the tip of South America through the Straits of Magellan. The opening of the canal had an enormous effect on Valparaiso, which used to be a traditional stopover for ships, and the economy of the city suffered greatly. In recent years it has improved – the city still functions as a busy seaport, but now relies more on tourism to keep the economy running.


Page 166. " He suggested that I visit the house of Pablo Neruda "
Pablo Neruda
Public DomainPablo Neruda - Credit: Revista Argentina

 Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet and politician, famous across the world during his lifetime and even more so after his death. Born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral in 1904, he died of cancer in 1973.

Neruda’s first volume of verse was published when he was only 18. By the age of 20 he had developed an international reputation with the publication of one of his most famous volumes, Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair. He held a number of diplomatic posts around the world, and spent a considerable amount of time in exile in Argentina due to his high standing in the Communist Party of Chile. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

The house in Valparaiso which Neruda owned, La Sebastiana, is now a museum.

Read a selection of Neruda's poems online

Page 170. " sea bass cooked in salt "

Sea bass cooked in salt is a traditional recipe of Spanish origin. It involves baking the fish in a thick covering of salt, which then hardens and can be broken off, leaving tender fish infused with a mild salty flavour.

Sea bass cooked in salt recipe

Page 171. " “Have you heard of the janissaries?” "

 The Janissaries were infantry units of the Ottoman Empire, which formed the household troops and bodyguards of the Sultan from the 14th century until 1826. The units were formed of children taken from non-Muslim households of conquered countries – chosen for their physical strength, they were taken at an early age so that they would forget their homes and grow up loyal to the Sultan. Intelligent children were chosen for the Enderun School, where they would be trained to become chemists, physicians or academics.

In speaking of the Janissaries, Bautista gives Changez something to identify with – in being ‘taken’ by Underwood Samson at an impressionable age, he feels he is being trained to be loyal to the American culture and so, ultimately, to betray his own.

Page 175. " our waiter approaches with green tea "

Japanese Green Tea
Public DomainJapanese Green Tea - Credit: Christian
 Green tea originates in China and is widespread amongst many Asian cultures. It is made from tea leaves which have experienced minimal oxidation during processing, and is associated with many health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, weight loss and better digestion.