My short bio: I am a travel writer and author of over a dozen traditionally published books and several documentary films. I also write introductions, academic pieces for journals, travel pieces for Lonely Planet magazine, and book reviews for newspapers such as the Washington Post.

In 2012, I made the move from traditional publishing to self publishing, with the release of Timbuctoo. Last year, I self published three books: Scorpion Soup, a collection of essays (including one on cannibalism), and Eye Spy. And I've just released my latest book, Paris Syndrome.

Ask me anything about self publishing, writing, or my books...or about Paris Syndrome, my latest obsession.

My Proof: * I've shared this on my blog (http://www.tahirshah.com/2014/06/join-me-on-reddit-monday-june-9th-from-5-7pm-uk-time/) * I've tweeted (http://www.twitter.com/humanstew) about it. * I've posted about it on my Facebook page

EDIT Thank you all so much for your questions! I truly appreciate you taking the time out to visit this AMA and ask me questions. I need to get offline now, but if you continue to ask your questions in here, I'll revisit in the next couple of days and answer everything. Many thanks!!

Comments: 159 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

mysaadlife9 karma

Have you ever had an Indiana jones like moment of badassness?

TahirShahAuthor23 karma

When I was in a Pakistani torture jail, I got very very very sick of being interrogated each night. And, in my one moment of sheer bravery, I reached over the blinding lights (ie when my blindfiold and handcuffs had been removed) and I sunk my fingernails into the interrogator's face. I said, 'You're a totally crap interrogator, and I'm giving you my best bloody material, you bastard!' Which i was.

SSmtb6 karma

What are your top three achieved aspirations, and what three sit at the top of your list to do before your swan song?

TahirShahAuthor13 karma

What a great question!

I am pleased to have

  1. lived a decade in a Jinn-infested home in a Moroccan shantytown.
  2. Been able to write books i want to write (a rarity).
  3. Watched the sun rise at Machu Picchu

And, on my wish-list:

  1. go into a vast Chinese cave system that goes deeper than any other (can't remmeber the name).
  2. Cross Africa East to West
  3. Spend a month living on an Indian pavement.

Theegingerr1233 karma

Any advice for a photojournalist student whose dream is to work for national geographic?

TahirShahAuthor3 karma

Develop a body of work that is original. Never ever ever follow the pack. And remember that most people in their teens and early twenties (not sure how old you are) don't go out and do stuff. They often sit about, waiting for someone to give them an idea, a ticket, a job. Well that's wrong - -you have to get out and set yourself goals, challenges, find work and then sell it. And don't expect Nat Geo to take you on round one... spiral upwards towards it. You WILL get there. Don't listen to anyone who holds you back or suggests you can't. Because you CAN!

rcdeals683 karma

Hi Tahir. Thank you for your blog posts (including those fascinating Top Tens!), videos, and your books. I just finished "In Arabian Nights" -- delightful, and it's a great pleasure to read about normal people......In that book you write about being told not to give if it's simply to make yourself feel good. Can you comment on what has helped you in learning to "give without buying"?

TahirShahAuthor4 karma

Yes, thank you. Giving is something that (we were always told as children) is done to make someone else feel happier -- not yourself. So, we were brought up to give anonymously... and not to write 'from...' on a gift. Two weeks ago I saw Ariane (my daughter) going to a birthday party in mumbai (where I am right now) and she didn't have a gift. So my wife had given her some money to give to her friend. i went a little ballistic and said that that was unacceptable -- that a gift was something that ought to have treasured sentimentality and not just be currency.

wratz3 karma

You are an amazing author! I hope you see this as I am a little late. I've read all your books. I used to order them from a bookstore in the UK when the US additions came out a year late. I just couldn't wait that long. I just wanted to tell you that your adventures have given me the opportunity to travel to amazing places in my mind when I otherwise couldn't. Keep up the good work, and I hope your family is doing well.

What thoughts do you have on modern versions of storytelling? Something dear to most Redditors is video gaming. Do you hold the same disdain for this medium as other literary and film veterans do?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Hi there... thank you so much for your extremely kind comments... which are really not deserted, and rachana is about to hit me over the head to keep my feet on the ground.

Video games: I'm such a fan of anything that tells or transmits stories and in almost any form. I think video games are in some many ways in their infancy, but they are emerging as a fantastic medium in their own right.

I don't really like the first person shooter games because I don't think they challenge the brain. But i love the idea of teaching through games. That's what humans have used since Neanderthal times to learn -- games.

Ayntitr3 karma

Good evening, Tahir. Can I please ask you what are the best ways to help you in your work?

TahirShahAuthor7 karma

Very kind question. thank you. To write good reviews on Amazon! :-) Someone wrote a horrid review for PARIS SYNDROME today and I've been sad as a result all afternoon... again, thank you.

subNora2 karma

Hi Tahir, I loved your book Scorpion Soup. Reading it was like being lost in a maze of twisty little passages, only they all didn't look the same. I hope to read Eye Spy next.

Here's my question. Let's say you pissed off a Jinn. Big-time. He ragingly roils above you in choking sufuric clouds and thunders down, "You remind me of a certain extremely obnoxious bunny, so I'm going to turn you into a... GOON!" A few moments later he relents a little and says, "Well, OK, a GOON is pretty bad. But I still intend to punish you. I'll let you choose who or what you are going to be next. You can be anyone or anything except you." Who or what would you choose to be?

TahirShahAuthor9 karma

Hi there... thank you. What a wonderful question. Wow, I feel like taking my time to imagine a perfect answer... I think i'd want to be transformed as a man on a journey with a magic ring on his finger. The ring can't create wealth of any kind, but can lead to fabulous adventure.

Fakhreddin2 karma

Tahir, when you are engulfed in one of your projects, do you also dream about it?...what i mean is, do dreams, sometimes, show you solutions to problems at hand?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I am obsessive and it's a mixed blessing. It gives me huge energy and commitment. But, at the same time, it means I'm a bit of a nightmare to live with. Because when i'm working on something, that project is all i can think about. Yes, I certainly dream of what i'm working on. And, I try to go on long walks and allow my subconscious mind to solve the problems and conundrums that always surface. The subconscious is the greatest problem-solving mechanism we have. but we seem to forget that it's there, waiting for us to ask its help.

kestna2 karma

Are there any things one can do by one self that would help one to concentrate and observe better or can that only be helped with special training?? ie not just talking to one's self to no great purpose. Thank you very much for your time and I love bees too! The greatest best wishes to Rachana and thanks for her precious time as well.

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I think it's a question of learning to focus in a new way. I'm so against the kind of instruction we all had in school because I think it kills the default settings in us.

I often sit in a cafe -- say here in India -- and will not allow myself to get up until I have appreciated something obvious in a new way. It's a kind of game. It takes retuning, but it's surprisingly easy.

McSuzuki2 karma

Hi Tahir and Rachana, thanks so much for all your amazing work. I've really enjoyed the unique qualities of each Secretum Mundi release whether it was the cool cover art, cartography, or overall design. I'm really excited about Roger Burrows Think 3D release and I've been wondering about patterns and Geometry and levels of organization available in your works. It seems like they have many dimensions available. Is this something you have been trying to help people see with the "golden head" search (triangulations?). I've wondered about this and the publishing name, Secretum Mundi...

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Secretum Mundi... the Secret World. I chose it as a name because I love the idea that there are worlds within our own world. We can't see them. But they are there. Just as no one had actually seen individual cells until relatively recently (through a microscope) I am sure there's far more to see. But it's a question of learning to 'see' in new ways. I am preoccupied with the idea that society un-educates us in the education system. It teaches us to think like robots. But, as you know, robots don't really think. They just regurgitate.

Roger Burrows's Think 3D amazed me. I love the way he charts patterns through geometry. I regard his work as some of the most important and interesting of its kind being done today.

rcdeals682 karma

The line in the film Casablanca, "We'll always have Paris." --did it help prompt you to write about Paris after Casablanca? Can you comment about influences or ingredients in "Paris Syndrome"?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Such a nice question... I sometimes think of the hack writer in Hollywood writing that line... 'We'll always have Paris'. It's such a clichee now but if you turn it over and over in your head, it reveals itself in new ways.

Yes, it was part of the inspiration for PARIS SYNDROME... as was my love with the French capital, and my adoration for Japan.

Estrovia2 karma

Hey Tahir,

Its a dream of mine to be able to make a living off traveling and exploring like you do. What would you say is the best first step in getting a job writing about exotic locations for a magazine or travel website?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

  1. Get enough money to go somewhere far away.
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. Find a strange, quirky, moving, or downright interesting angle on a person/thing/event at that place. Try to find a news angle or what's called a 'peg', which gives an editor a reason for using it.
  4. Do a blog and get a following there.
  5. Reuse good material.
  6. offer good material to people (web sites, magazines, newspapers etc) in other countries which wouldn't be so likely to be offered strange stuff. They usually handle the translating.
  7. Don't give up.
  8. remember, the more work you do, the bigger your footprint.
  9. Again, believe in yourself.
  10. Don't ever ever ever listen to anyone who tells you to can the idea and get a 'real' job.

Axel9272 karma

Hi Tahrir!

I was wondering what your favorite book is, or what book do you wish you have read but haven't yet (because you're understandably busy)?

Thanks so much!

TahirShahAuthor5 karma

Thank you... I love THE SONGLINES and UTZ by Bruce Chatwin. And my friend Paul Theroux sent me a story he wrote called Minor Watt. I reread it today and found myself in bliss. It's marvellous and I think it's online. Try and find it.

Ulrikaelisabet2 karma

Hello Tahir, I just bought Paris Syndrome and I look so forward to read it. So, what is a Paris syndrome? I´ve never heard of it before

Ulrika

TahirShahAuthor7 karma

PARIS SYNDROME is a bizarre maniacal state (similar to Stendahl Syndrome) in which someone is totally overwhelmed by the French capital... and has a kind of mental implosion. The only cure is to leave paris and never to return.

rasmusca1 karma

Pardon any ignorance but this is the first time I've heard of this syndrome. Is it real? And what problems arise out of it?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Yes, it's completely real. paris Syndrome manifests itself in different ways -- ranging from nausea and dizziness, to hyperventilation, aggression, heart palpitations and all out rage.

rcdeals682 karma

My father likes to say, "I've lived too long in the Arctic to be an expert on it." I on the other hand suffer from thinking I'm an expert after reading one book (could this be the "Yak kitab, yak pir" syndrome in Dari/Persian?? or even "yak kitab, yak yak." ??) In "In Arabian Nights" is the idea that the wise person knows they are a fool. Can you comment on "knowing you are a fool" in relation to successful travel or living in a new country?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I have heard it said that in order to know a place -- or write about it -- you must write about it immediately or not until after thirty years. Living in Morocco I have found that with each passing day a little more is revealed. But, at the same time, i have also found myself increasingly confused... and in awe.

I think the condition of a fool, however wise, is a delight. And were we all wise, we should all wish to be fools.

scossar2 karma

hi Tahir, I have found the enthusiasm for life that you express in your books to be quite infectious. Is it something that just comes naturally to you, or are there any tricks or techniques that you use to maintain it?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I am enthusiastic. Yes, yes, yes. And, yes, yes, yes... i sometimes get really depressed... mostly when I hit a mountain and can't seem to get over it. But in my own way i've learned to tunnel through. When I was a child I had a book called THE TRAIN TO SPAIN. It's for kids and I think it's out of print (alas)... and that book taught me that there's always a way forward: and if there is a way forward, there's a smile on my face.

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

And how to maintain enthusiasm: Do work you are in the mood for, and when you are in the mood for it. And love yourself. Oh, and what works for me is to give myself last minute journeys. i love them.

kestna2 karma

Yes What are the best ways to help??? and Could you comment further on Zig zag travel ? People talk of mirrors and.....
How is one to tell if one’s imagination is not running away with one. I refer to things said or read or posted that appear to refer specifically to an ongoing thought. Is this the way the world works and one has previously not been alert to it or is it just an interesting by way, of the imagination not useful.

TahirShahAuthor3 karma

Zigzag works for me. I just wrote on my facebook page this:

"If there's a key-word to my life it's ZIGZAG... because in life the best roads are never straight."

Zigzag travel is what opens doors. And takes you on adventure. never plan too much. Go without maps and without a phone and listen to your gut.

I love imagination and attuning myself to it. Again, listen to your gut and don't allow your programmed mind to take control. Look for the default setting within you.

Abendmahlschruller1 karma

If you had the opportunity to do a trip to Mars, BUT one way only, could you resist?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

No... because I like people too much... oh, and trees as well. And there aren't many of either on a journey of that kind.

Would you go on a one-way Mars mission?

rcdeals681 karma

You dedicated "In Arabian Nights" to your aunt Amina Shah, Queen of the Storytellers. I saw on your posts that she died earlier this year.....If appropriate, is there something you learned from her that you can share with us?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

How wonderful to have her name here. Yes, she died on 19th January. Very strangely, my mother died on the same day. It was a strange day.

Anyway, Amina was a fountain of imagination, energy, life... and YES I learned to follow my own route and to be myself. i teach this to my own kids all the time (they're so bored of it I think), but I tell them not to be reprogrammed by an education system which is at best, second rate. My aunt believed in stories as an educating force, and travel as a way to learn to think. She was a great traveller. I miss her, but I feel her inside of me, and can hear her voice as I write this.

Asawar1 karma

Hi Tahir your books contain sufi material as does Idris Shah's, but idris shah stated that he did not leave a teacher to follow, only his books. Who is the sufi teacher of this era? Abduljabbar

TahirShahAuthor3 karma

I have grown up with people around me searching for a teacher, a guru, a big character. My father was a big character, a great man and a wise teacher. But i have seen -- ohhh how I have seen -- how people want a name, an address... a person to follow. And all i can tell you is that my father believed so strongly that Sufi thought was bigger than even the wisest of teachers. For him it was about ideas and wisdom, and that's why he spent forty years writing such a large corpus of work.

Asawar1 karma

Many thanks for your response. But your father also stated that without a true sufi teacher real wisdom and understanding is almost impossible as it will take many lifetimes.

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Yes, and it's for this reason that he created a huge body of work as an extension of himself.

Anonaire1 karma

Of all the places you've been and things you've seen, what place did you love the most and hope to see again (to maybe move one day or bring the family with you)? What's been the most dangerous location, a place you'd never want to go again under any circumstances?

TahirShahAuthor3 karma

Most dangerous: Afghanistan. At one point during filming of our Afghan lost treasure documentary, the director (David Flamolc) was shot. And that was after getting out of a torture jail.

Most loved: wow, such a hard one. i try and avoid questions like that because I love so many places, and going back to loved places time and again. It depends on my mood. And right now I'd say the Rift Valley in Kenya. I love it, i dream of it, I worship it.

And my favourite thing in all the world is to be in Africa when the first rain comes, and to smell the earth as it rains.

That, my friends, is magic.

graffiti811 karma

Here's my question for you:

Oak Island. Hoax or real buried treasure?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

I don't know about it... but as I write this I'm googling it...

adams2on1 karma

Thanks for writing your books. They inspire and pull a person out of their limitations. Can you say anything more about how danger and the soul are related?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

We all need danger. It gives vitality... and gets us knocked out of the comfort zone. The thing of terror for me is not so much danger, than being trapped in the comfort zone. I'm writing this from India and all i can tell you is that people here -- ordinary people -- live lives with the safety nets cut away. It's a tightrope walk over a precipice. But it's life packed with a full spectrum of adventure.

josephalbright11 karma

What are the odds on someone with no experience, finding a treasure?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Very often experience is the one thing that holds people up from realising the goals of their dreams, and their greatest ambitions. Much better to believe in yourself and follow your gut.

The journey will be your experience.

sacredcowssmell1 karma

Hi Tahir Lucinda Hall here on Neil's Reddit. I really enjoyed Casablanca Blues. Hope it gets made in to a film I lived in Paris when young, so looking forward to Paris Syndrome. There is something about Paris that affects foreigners! Wonder if it is its place on the earth, the light, the geometry. Does it rattle our thought patterns, I wonder. Worked with the Japanese and love their gardens. I believe you spent time in Japan. Wonder what you would suggest seeing like gardens, if going there besides just soaking up the culture? Cheers Lucinda

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

japan is a Twlight Zone all of its own. I lived there for a year and was completely broke. I only survived by stealing ceremonial cabbages from Ueno Park and taking them back to Robert Twigger's apartment -- i was living on his floor -- and cooking them into very thin soup. The gardens are lovely, but not in Tokyo.

rcdeals681 karma

Some Africa questions: Did the witches of Sidi Abdur Rahman find a new home?.....Any developments on the Timbuctoo movie front?......And THANK YOU so much for doing this IAmA today!

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

The witches are still at Sidi Abdur Rahman, although a horrific bridge has now been built. i refuse to walk over it because, in my humble opinion, part of the adventure was wading across.

TIMBUCTOO movie: no bites yet. Please find me a movie deal! :-)

cp51841 karma

If you haven't already answered this, what lost cities do you want to find?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Paititi is still out there.

Go and look for it!

Madre de Dios jungle.

Take vaseline for your feet. because all the skin's going to come off when you're in the river.

memenoon1 karma

Hi Tahir,

Loved your music video for Eye to Eye. What was the inspiration behind it?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

That's so funny... that wasn't me! It was another TAHIR SHAH. Actually, he's TAHER and I am TAHIR. But it got me a lot of hits.

BetterWhenImDrunk1 karma

Ever tried your hand at searching for a lost plane? I know a lot of people who could use that skill.

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Malaysian Airline...? Wasn't that so incredibly strange? My heart goes out to the families of the passengers. So horrific. And these days with GPS and black boxes etc, we assume nothing can be hidden or lost. Well, that's so very wrong... and has been proven again.

rcdeals681 karma

Have you ever travelled in the Cossack country or the Urals? I don't know if it's relevant, and it's barely a question, but did you know there used to be a tribe called the Saxin in the Volga country -- midway between Saxony and the Saka Sunu lands of Afghanistan? I've posted a small subreddit on this, under keywords Saxin Volga.

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Thanks for this. I'm going to read up on it. Very interesting.

I have dreamed of getting to Cossack Country... but never have (yet) because I don't want to rush.

Again, thanks for the info.

Lainehh1 karma

Hey! How did you break into the film industry, and do you have any advice for a fledgling documentary film maker? Did you have to start as a runner?

Thanks!

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I will tell you what worked for me:

  1. From day one, tell yourself-- and everyone else -- that you are 'in production'. It's because there is no scent so delicious as someone who knows what they wants and is going out and getting it... and no scent so horrid than someone using expressions like, 'We're thinking making a film on XYZ'.

  2. Check up about the Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival... IDFA. It's all about getting funding for films. Big editors go there.

  3. Shoot a promo and get some footage edited -- 5 or 10 minutes fo good stuff.

  4. Choose a subject you're totally passionate about.

  5. Believe that you will get it made and, again, you are in production as of now!

hilarious_yeti1 karma

met any yetis?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

No yetis. Just cold people on mountainsides wrapped in fur.

Abendmahlschruller1 karma

I'd love to read or watch a film about you spending a month on an Indian pavement. Are you planning to do it?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I proposed it once to my friend David Flamholc... 50 feet of Calcutta pavement. David said he'd film me from across the street. the deal would be that I'd have to support myself through juggling etc... Maybe it's time to do it. :-)

Fakhreddin1 karma

Hi Tahir, What I love about your writing is, how you are able to describe a scene or scenario so vividly. My questions are, what are the criteria when you are choosing your crew for an adventurous exploration journey? and, are you going to embark on another journey like "In Search Of King Solomon's Mines" ?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

It's so simple. i look for one thing. one quality.

ENTHUSIASM.

That's all I want from anyone. If they can't survive in the jungle, I'll teach them. Or will show them how to rope climb, or how to do anything else... but I want people who will beam with laughter when the skin's come off their feet and they have dengue fever... again.

Fakhreddin1 karma

How do you overcome despair in journey, or for that matter, the despair of your crew?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Hot food. And lots of it. That's the biggest builder of morale. That, and gut-rot alcohol.

And to lead from the front -- never expecting the men to do anything you wouldn't do yourself. The only time I go last is to eat. I never eat until the men have all eaten. It's an easy demonstration of my respect for them.

Fakhreddin1 karma

Have ever had to deal with mutiny? and whats the best way to deal with it?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I was in the Madre de Dios jungle for 16 weeks. No skin on our feet. All the men had had dengue, as well as I. The rain lashed down relentlessly. Cold rain. The food stores were rotting. There was no hope. And, yes, at this point, the porters started to mutiny. I had to get them back on track and it wasn't easy. I did it with a mixture of coercion, rest, singing, humour, and spiced hot food. (The only way to eat the food by that point was to spice it).

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

I'm planning a big journey. Details and even the location are under wraps. The only clue is that it's to hide another golden head.

rcdeals681 karma

Has the North American head actually been unearthed? Or is it still under cover -- guarded by a large ferocious dog?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Check the blog post i did on it about three weeks ago... tahirshah.com/blog It was hidden in TIMBUCTOO, CA, and as far as we know the area has been ripped up for a new bridge and the head has been buried deeper in the foundations of the bridge. There's irony in that somewhere.

tamelamaxim1 karma

Dear Tahir - 1. Was there anything particularly difficult about writing Paris Syndrome? 2. Do you know what your next book will be about? 3. Will you ever tell us more about Rachana in your books? 4. Not a question - just laughing about the idea of you on an Indian pavement for a month - most people probably want to spend a month being carried around on some kind of Chinese silk cushion 5. What are some of your favorite foods?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Rachana's sitting beside me and she's smiling.

Paris Syndrome was a challenge because I wanted to get inside the protagonist's head. She's called Miki, and she's a Japanese woman.

I LOVE sushi and Thai food... and possibly Thai sushi if there is such a thing. And I love so many foods. A total glutton.

tamelamaxim1 karma

smiling back - ha ha - hello to Rachana - and another smile for Thai Sushi - another question (from Cappi) if you could be anywhere right now, where would you be (besides where you are?)

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Hi Tamela, I'm missing the Great Rift valley in Kenya. There's a small town called Narok there... and I'd love to be there right now.

Ulrikaelisabet1 karma

Hello again, do you have any thoughts about the future of libraries to share?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

On nights when I cannot sleep, i dream that I'm stepping into a massive, ancient enchanted library. Cobwebs everywhere. Candelabras, too. And that for me is the greatest human achievement -- a massive ancient library. As for their future: i hope libraries will continue forever. i'm certainly collecting books with as much zeal as ever.

rcdeals681 karma

If appropriate, can you say what question you hope to be asked here today? - Kevan

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Hmmmm. Questions that would make me think. And I've received some of those already.

rcdeals681 karma

Can you comment on how to "listen" with one's eyes?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

I'm smiling... Yes, don't take the senses for granted. My father was so big on that. He didn't like his children to be robots, and expected them to challenge themselves and to be challenged with and by the world.

The best thing ton do is to go to a public place, one you think you know -- to close your eyes and try to soak it up in new ways. Don't heave until you have broken new ground.

kestna1 karma

you just wrote of the frightening experience of being in a plunging aeroplane. And the torture jail is so horrific that it's hard to get one's head round it...Does one learn to be better at being frightened ?? If I mayput it that way?? Toni.. I also long to know more about Rachana, especially her bees.

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

. I also long to know more about Rachana, especially her bees.

Rachana's sitting here and says she loves bees (and so do I!)

I have found that when i'm really frightened and in a position in which i can't do anything about it (the plane the other day in a sandstorm with stalled engines; and the pakistani jail)... I just go totally calm. It's almost an animal mechanism, i think.

zahirah731 karma

Is great travel writing dead?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Good question... I think it's changing and it needs to change more. What i dream of is a time when a travel book can be written about the micro rather than the macro -- and I have learned this from my travels... ie that you don't need to cover a lot of ground, so much as to observe a smaller area in a new way.

zahirah731 karma

What are you working on now?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I'm sooooooo excited about my new project. it's a series of adventure novels for teenagers, inspired by the Arabian Nights. I'm overrevved with glee for it all.

zahirah731 karma

I saw on your blog last month that someone almost found the first golden head that you hid. Have you heard any updates? Has anyone else gone to find it, now that you've made it pretty clear where it's located?

Also, have you already hid the other three heads? If not, when will you be hiding the next ones?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I am so PROUD to say that the first golden head was 'almost' found by a Reddit follower -- matt Roberts from Penn. I have posted online a blog how he almost found it. Almost, because it seems as though a major construction project in TIMBUCTOO, CA has destroyed the site where I buried it!

Matt didn't follow the clues in my novel, TIMBUCTOO, but used clues he found on a short head-hiding video. he should be running a country, or a spy agency... because I've never encountered such cleverness before.

jgamache11 karma

Hi Tahir, In all your travels/adventures, have you ever visited a place where the inhabitants live in harmony with their surroundings? Thank you for this opportunity and all the wonderful books (each one an adventure). Janet

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Hi janet,

I think that to answer the question we have to consider, or reconsider, the idea of harmony and what it is. What you or I regard as harmony isn't necessarily what others take it to be.

I'm actually in India right now -- in Mumbai -- and I'd tell you (my opinion) that there's nothing harmonious about this city. it's wonderful but it's mad mayhem, a wild rumpus of a place. But to my wife , Rachana, and to millions of others here, it's total 24 carat harmony.

al_sparagus1 karma

Hi, Tahir...

From what I understand Paris syndrome seems to mostly affect Japense visitors to Paris.

Does this happen with other cultures and people visiting other cities often?

Has there been enough research in this area to determine that?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Yes, it happens to other cities such as Jerusalem (hence JERUSALEM SYNDROME)... and it usually happens because of total overwhelming, coupled with an almost manic obsession with that place. I felt it in Jerusalem... people have held that city as a focal point for their entire lives and so it's no great surprise they have such a heavy reaction.

And other nationalities (other than japanese) do get PARIS SYNDROME, although the japanese are the most obsessed with that city.

glglglglgl1 karma

While obviously Paris Syndrome happens to visitors to Paris, are there any other major cities where similar problems occur to tourists?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

Yes, Jerusalem and Florence...

Laxguy091 karma

What kind of camera and wquipment do you have in your arsenal of shooting? Just wondering because all Nat Geo movies are always beauitful shot and I want to know what it takes!

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Until very recently we were shooting on Ariflex Super-16. Film... and doing some video. I LOVE film because as a presenter it gets you concentrated because it's so expensive, and because it looks so wonderful. With video -- most people these days are using SLF cameras or high end video cameras (like RED). We've just shot something on a Nikon D800. The great thing is that you can change the lenses, and they are of such high optical quality.

nerodoptus1 karma

how do you get started with writing a book?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

I come from a family in which everyone was writing books. And I grew up knowing a lot of successful writers. And that was like a magic wand in that it showed me that there was nothing special in writing books, no mystery, just grind. Do the grind and the book gets written. Write 3000 words a day, every day, for 30 days and you'll have a 300-page book. It's a fail-proof method. Plan it though.

To answer your question - -I went on a load of random travels and then sewed them later into a rather weak narrative, when I was 22 years old. It's called BEYOND THE DEVIL'S TEETH. I'm not so pleased with it, but I am pleased that I did it -- as it led to other stuff.

Ser_Bron1 karma

Can you do something about this Oak Island money pit situation? I've always wanted to know what is really going on there, and now there is a reality TV show or some bullshit happening, but I'm going to need some expert eyes on this stat. Thanks.

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Thanks, as I said, i'm going to read up about oak island... sounds so interesting.

sacredcowssmell0 karma

Hello Tahir Just wrote my first book An English Baby Boomer My Life and Times. I am finding it difficult to market this work and write new stuff. How do you juggle your time - you are so prolific? Neil G M Hall

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Hola Neil -- well done on the book and greetings to Reddit. Time juggling: I find that I'm good at doing total-focus, a kind of deep immersion. That's how I blot everything else out and that works for me. But at the same time I drown everyday in emails and stuff. There's too much of it and it's crazy. We all drown in it -- especially because email is so immediate. I just counted my outgoing emails today. i have already written 85 outgoing today. Some of them are long; others shorter. And I've had 290 incoming. I miss letters and the days when time was less compressed.

RobShear0 karma

Hi Tahir, have you ever undertaken any epic walks, (500 miles or more) would you, and where would you?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Hi Rob,

I want to, i want to, i want to! My old friend and in my ways my mentor, Wilfred Thesiger, used to tell me that walking was the only way to travel... he said that if you walked the chance of missing anything interesting -- people, animals or things, was immensely reduced.

I dream of walking or cycling (Thesiger frowned on bicycles because they were too fast), across Africa, or Cairo to cape.

I must do it. I WILL do it.

Thank you for reminding me.

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Hi Rob,

I want to, i want to, i want to! My old friend and in my ways my mentor, Wilfred Thesiger, used to tell me that walking was the only way to travel... he said that if you walked the chance of missing anything interesting -- people, animals or things, was immensely reduced.

I dream of walking or cycling (Thesiger frowned on bicycles because they were too fast), across Africa, or Cairo to cape.

I must do it. I WILL do it.

Thank you for reminding me.

nae320 karma

Where is the ark of the covenant? Has it been destroyed?

TahirShahAuthor1 karma

Well, I guess you know as far as I do, that it's in Axum in northern Ethiopia. I have been up there a few times, but they never let me look behind the shroud, no matter how much a I pleased. My thinking is that what they have there -- and I do believe they have 'something' -- is a copy... probably a copy of a copy of a copy. It's a bit like having the soup of the soup of the soup. Not the real thing, but better than nothing.

karmanaut-2 karma

What do you think of the Affordable Care Act?

TahirShahAuthor2 karma

The US has the right idea about life in so many ways. I am so so in awe of the way Americans work hard, play hard and fulfill their dreams. But only now it seems is there light at the end of the health care tunnel. In Europe we take healthcare (free healthcare) for granted. Yes, someone has to pay for it, but it saddens me when American friends and people I meet have horror stories of going bankrupt over their health.