Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

3/19/2004

There's always, of course, this problem to deal with:
Europeans first appeared off the coast of India in 1498, after the Portuguese discovered the route around the Cape of Good Hope. Instead of the fabled Christian king Prester John, they found Turks and Arabs and Arabians there ahead of them. The first Portuguese to land in Calicut was taken to meet two Spanish-speaking Tunisians, who asked him "What brought you here?" (from Firearms: A Global History to 1700, Kenneth Chase)

No matter where you want to venture, in all likelihood someone has beaten you to the punch. The trick is to not do what the Portuguese subsequently did--batter the sea ports with their naval armaments, blockade the princes who disagree with you, with nary a venture into the interior. You have to risk anabasis.

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