Page 202. " the monsoon’s rains made driving treacherous "

Bangladeshi Children in the Monsoon
Creative Commons AttributionBangladeshi Children in the Monsoon - Credit: bri vos
The monsoon – heavy, sweeping summer rains – affect the majority of South Asia. Monsoon season in Pakistan is relatively short, and affects only the Himalayan region – the rest of the country is generally dry. The monsoon tends to last from July to September, whereas in wetter India it begins earlier, in June.

Page 202. " six months later the invasion of Iraq would be under way "

US Army Tanks in Baghdad
Public DomainUS Army Tanks in Baghdad - Credit: TSGT JOHN L. HOUGHTON JR., USAF
On 19th March 2003, troops from America, Britain, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq to topple the inhumanitarian regime of Saddam Hussein. The capital of Baghdad fell after three weeks of heavy fighting. The invasion was based on a controversial claim about weapons of mass destruction in the country, and also Hussein’s links to terrorist organisations. The Iraq War officially ended on 31st August 2010, but American troops remain in the country in an ‘advisory position’. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians are estimated to have died in the conflict, from bombing, suicide bombs and other violent means. Nearly 5,000 coalition forces were killed, the majority of them American.

Page 208. " rather like a Kurtz waiting for his Marlow "

The Roi des Belges, Conrad's river steamer in the Congo
Public DomainThe Roi des Belges, Conrad's river steamer in the Congo - Credit: Delcommune, Alexandre
A reference to the novel Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, published in 1902. The short novel is based on Conrad’s own life, and chronicles the journey of Marlow, captain of a ferry on the Congo River. He sets off with the aim of transporting ivory and also finding Kurtz, another ivory trader, who is living in the wilds of Congo and needs to be returned to civilization. Kurtz is a wild, mysterious, sinister figure, who is waiting for Marlow at the end of the river in the ‘heart of darkness’. Changez is implying that he is expecting someone to come for him, in an attempt to return him to the ‘civilization’ from which he has fled.

Heart of Darkness has been made into a film, and was also the basis for the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.

A radio discussion of Heart of Darkness