Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

‘When I arrived in Ceylon, I made the acquaintance of the famous Buddhist monk A. We spoke together often with great sincerity and as a result of our conversations we organized an expedition up the river Ganges, with a programme planned in advance and a route mapped out in detail, in the hope of finally clearing up the questions which evidently had been perturbing him just as they had me.

‘This venture was for me personally as the last remaining straw at which I clutched and therefore when this journey turned out to have been just another chase after a mirage, everything finally died in me and I had no wish to undertake anything further.

‘After this expedition I happened to go to Kabul again, where I gave myself up entirely to oriental idleness, living without any aims or interests whatsoever, automatically meeting old acquaintances and new. I often went to the house of my old friend, the Aga Khan. In the company of a host so rich in adventures as he, one could somehow pass one’s time in the boring life of Kabul.

‘One day I saw there among his guests, sitting in the place of honour, an old Tamil in a costume not at all suitable for the house of the Aga Khan. After greeting me, the Khan, seeing my perplexity, hurriedly whispered to me that this venerable old man was a great friend of his, a queer fellow to whom he was under great obligations, even for having once saved his life. The old man lived somewhere in the north, but occasionally came to Kabul either to see relatives or on some other business, and whenever he was there he came to see him, which always made the Aga Khan inexpressibly glad, as he had never in his life met a better man. He advised me to talk with him and added that, if I did, I should speak loudly as he was hard of hearing.

‘The conversation interrupted by my entrance was resumed. It was about horses. The old man also took part in the discussion, and it was evident that he was a connoisseur of horses and had once been a great lover of them. Then the conversation changed to politics. They talked of the neighbouring countries, of Russia, and England, and when they were speaking of Russia, the Aga Khan, indicating me, jokingly said, “Please, do not say anything bad about Russia. You might offend our Russian guest.”