Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading at the Cafe and interview with Mary Smith

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

Very excited to have author, blogger and friend Mary Smith here today for a book reading and interview. This has been a special week for Mary with the release on Thursday of her latest local history book, Castle Douglas Through Time. The second in the series with her first Dumfries Through Time, both co-written with Allan Devlin. The book will be featured in the Cafe and Bookstore update on Monday 20th March

Mary spent over ten years living and working in Afghanistan and Pakistan and her highly acclaimed book No More Mulberries has received 90 reviews.

Please remember that this is an interactive interview and Mary is welcoming questions about her life and work in the comments section. Mary is busy promoting her new book but will be available later over the weekend to answer them.

But first a little bit about Mary Smith.

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She longed to allow others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

About No More Mulberries

Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves her work at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan and the warmth and humour of her women friends in the village, but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married and she fears he regrets taking on a widow with a young son, who seems determined to remain distant from his stepfather.

When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. Instead, she must focus on helping women desperate for medical care and has little time to think about her failing marriage. When an old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

Her husband, too, has a past of his own – from being shunned as a child to the loss of his first love.

The latest review for the book

Having travelled through villages in Iran in the 1960’s and visited villages in the North of India, I have some idea of what cultural differences Miriam, the protagonist of this novel, is facing.

The book opens in a village in Afghanistan, with her sharing a lifestyle of limited freedom with her doctor husband, Iqbal. Being a qualified midwife from Scotland, she helps him in the clinic they work in. Slowly, through flashbacks, Mary Smith reveals that her first love was Jawad whom she met in Scotland where he was a student, whom she wanted to marry and was given a year’s separation by his family before they were allowed to marry. In this time she became a Muslim by choice. Later on a visit to Scotland with her son Farid, she is notified that Jawadhad been killed by locals. She is devastated, wants to return to Afghanistan and finally marries Iqbal without love.

All mayhem breaks out when Jeanine, their boss demands that Miriam comes to a month’s clinic at Charkoh. Iqbal is threatened by the loss of his wife for a month as Charkoh is where Jawad was killed and because he loses status in the local community by allowing his wife the freedom to attend.

The interplay of Western and Eastern values is sensitively handled by the author and makes for fascinating reading. The background of local politics and the Taliban cruelty is sufficiently introduced with overtaking the story of Miriam’s personal growth.The reader learns about local customs regarding rights of women and contraception.

What I enjoyed most of all was the conflicts between Eastern and Western values which unravel to reveal the essential humanity of all the characters.

Read all the reviews and buy the book:

Also by Mary Smith

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

Now it is time to turn the post over to Mary with and I am sure that you will have many more questions that you would like to ask her.  Please leave them in the comments.

Welcome Mary and congratulations on the new book…

Tell us about your chosen genre of books that you write and why?

Hah! Good question, Sally. I write contemporary women’s fiction, memoir, poetry and local history. One day, I may finally settle for one genre over another but I am enjoying doing different things and not being pinned down.

What genre do you read and who are your favourite authors?

As with my writing, I’m not pinned down to any reading only one genre. I’ve loved all Kate Atkinson’s books and wish she’d do another featuring Jackson Brodie because I’m totally in love with him. I’ve just finished A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart and When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (a neurosurgeon who died of lung cancer, aged 37 and whose wife completed the book). I’ve enjoyed everything Terry Tyler has written – she has such a distinctive style. The book I’m reading now is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

What are your plans for 2017 for your books and blog?

This month, Amberley Publishing has published my second local history book, Castle Douglas Through Time. This is a picture-led book done in collaboration with photographer Allan Devlin with old images of places in and around the town paired with ‘today’ photos and accompanying captions.

I have a very slim collection of short stories currently with an editor and I hope to have that out in the not too distant future.

My main project for 2017 is to convert my blog, My Dad is a Goldfish, into a memoir. I started writing the blog when I moved in with dad who had dementia. Many people have said they enjoy it, find it helpful, especially as I tell it like it is, and have asked about a book. It’s proving more difficult to restructure the blog material into book material than I expected but I’ll get there. I hope it will come out this year.

Oh, and I also want to start a new blog. I share a blog with four other writers and I have my Goldfish one but I can’t really re-blog other bloggers’ posts on those. I’d like a blog in which I can part in some of the things that go on in the blogging community – flash fiction or poetry prompts, interviews, what I see on walks and, as Sue Vincent put it, “somewhere we can blether.” So, watch this space!

Your life was anything but ordinary Mary. Did you find it difficult to adjust when you returned to Scotland after ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan and what stands out in your mind as being particular daunting?

I found it incredibly difficult to adjust to life back in Scotland. I never experienced culture shock when I went to Pakistan – I suppose because I expected everything to be different. Coming home was when culture shock hit. I was so giddy in the supermarket, so seduced by all the wonderful array of ready meals that I piled my trolley. I can’t remember what I ‘cooked’ the first time but my son (who was five) and I each took a bite, screwed up our faces and declared it disgusting. I missed colour – everything seemed so dull and grey here.

Have you done travelling or is there still somewhere you feel you should visit and why?

Oh, I hope I’ve not done travelling. I was truly privileged to spend ten years in Pakistan and Afghanistan and I’m never going to be able to spend so long in a country again. I’ve been to India a couple of times and would like to explore more of it – and Vietnam. Must remember to buy a lottery ticket!

You have interviewed some interesting people as a journalist. Who did you enjoy talking to the most and why?

That’s a difficult question to answer as I’ve interviewed many people, some famous, some not at all well-known. I suppose at the top must be Barbara Dickson who was coming to perform in Dumfries. I was so nervous because people said she could be difficult but she absolutely lovely and we chatted for ages, much monger than I expected to have.

I enjoyed interviewing author Margaret Elphinstone shortly after The Gathering Night, came out. It’s set in Mesolithic Scotland and I was amazed at how much research she does – even to making a coracle so she knew how it would be to use one.

You can read some of the interviews on Mary’s website:

I asked Mary for an extract from one of her books for the reading today.

The extract I’ve chosen is from Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni. It’s part of what I read when I recently gave a lecture to Sexpression, a university-based charity which teaches young people about sex and relationships.

This is from the chapter on a birth spacing class with village women in Afghanistan:

Someone declared that a woman could not become pregnant unless she was sexually satisfied.

Nichbacht, the wool spinner, snorted. ‘If that was true, how come there are so many children running around.’ This smart rejoinder provoking much laughter from the women made Iqbal [translator] blush furiously.

Poor Iqbal often had cause to blush as the women teased hi unmercifully, telling him that as an unmarried man he wouldn’t know about these things yet. When condoms were handed round during class, the women promptly blew them up like balloons, laughing and making jokes that he refused to translate for me.

On one occasion he was so embarrassed he left the room, leaving me to demonstrate – with an inadequate vocabulary and the help of a broom handle – that a condom cannot be fitted correctly if it has been stretched to its full extent and snapped like a rubber band.

I suspected what really did for him, was the sight of his mother, Aquila, dangling an unrolled condom from her forefinger, asking laconically if her classmates knew anyone with anything large enough to fill it.

My thanks to Mary for an interesting and entertaining interview and here is a reminder about where you can buy Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni and her other books.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

Connect to Mary on her blogs and social media.

Facebook address
Blogs: and

I am now throwing open the interview to you and I am sure having read about the interesting and adventurous life that Mary has led that you have plenty of questions to ask her. Because of the launch of her new book, Mary will come back to you later today and over the rest of the weekend.


82 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading at the Cafe and interview with Mary Smith

  1. Pingback: Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading at the Cafe and interview with Mary Smith | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. What an amazing life you have lived so far, Mary and I’m sure that there will be more amazing journeys to come. My question is quite normal, it’s about food in Afghanistan. What did you eat and did you find it difficult to eat anything. oops scored two questions there really. x

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for your questions, Adele. I loved the food, some of whch was very basic meat (mutton or goat) or chicken served with the broth in which it was cooked along with some potatoes, a green vegetable a bit like spinach and bread (nan). First, you’d break up the bread and put it into the bowl of soup until you had a lovely thick mush then, using another piece of bread as a spoon, you ate this and your potato then the meat. Different regions had different local foods – mantu is a sort of dumpling filled with minced meat. I also really enjoyed a dish with friend aubergine and onion topped with yoghurt. Starting me on food was maybe a bad idea as I could talk about it for hours! In the summer in the rural areas, food was not very varied as there was a shortage of everything until the harvest so we ate a lot of rice and yoghurt. The only think I couldn’t eat – and I did try – was boiled sheep head. Oh, but the kebabs were wonderful, especially the ones with the pieces of sheep tail fat (called dumba) threaded between the meat.
      I better stop – making myself hungry.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Thanks, Mary for your great answer. It sounds delicious esp the aubergine and friend onion dish. I am a vegetarian but I remember when little that my mum made a dish called potted heid, which was made from sheeps brains, euch….. the dumplings sound delicious. The rice would have been much tastier than our store bought ones. Thanks, for such a lovely answer. They don’t have much sugary things which is a good thing. xx

        Liked by 3 people

    • If I was in rural Hazara Jat where I taught the health care classes my day would start with breakfast – black tea and fresh warm nan – with all the staff who worked at the clinic and my son. Actually, before breakfast I’d head for the latrine about 100 yards from the clinic! After breakfast I’d make sure son was either going to be in the makeshift nursery classes we’d started or was at least with someone responsible. I’d do some lesson planning and preparation for class. Sometimes one or other of the village women would pop in for a chat. After lunch I’d meet my students for class. The lesson was supposed to last for two hours but often overran as they were so enthusiastic. Often some would return with me to my room at the clnic for a gossip over coffee – they were total coffee fiends! I would try to go for a walk, sometimes up on the mountain, sometimes to the next village to see a friend. In the evening we all ate together. I always read my son a bedtime story in English and after he’d gone to bed the staff made me re-tell the story in Dari – it was a great way to learn the language.
      When I was back in the city I also taught classes but there was a lot more admin and paperwork to do – writing reports for donors, filling in funding applications. Not so much fun but necessary.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Mary! Love that that you have created this legacy of information and entertainment, it is as though you have built bridges to connect hearts. If you could create “the perfect place” by taking the best from each place you have been, what contribution would each place have to offer?

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a lovely thing to say, Annette. Your question isn’t easy to answer, though! Hazara Jat is incredibly beautiful (so is Scotland but in a different way) and the summer weather is perfect – blue skies, sunshine, warm but not too hot. Having just typed this, though, I remember the problems or irrigating the fields as there’s no rain in summer and the farmers depend mainly on the snow melt and I wouldn’t like us all to live through a Hazara winter with snow to the roof. I suppose if we imported a few of Scotland’s summer showers that would make it nearly perfect.
      But, really, it’s the people, isn’t it? There are good and bad people everywhere and it is the good ones who make you love their country.
      I’ve maybe not answered your question very well.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Lovely interview, Sally and Mary. I especially enjoyed the excerpt you chose, Mary. How fortunate to have experienced another culture so thoroughly that similarity rather than difference becomes the norm. What advice would you give to someone attempting to bridge cultural, racial, and religious differences with someone motivated by prejudice? ♥

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Tina. I’m pleased you enjoyed the extract. Yes, I’ve been privileged to experience the culture of both Pakistan and Afghanistan fairly thoroughly. A lot of aid workers spend a couple of years (or less) in a country then move on – I felt I was just beginning to get my feet under the table after ten years!
      In answer to your question, I’ve come to the conclusion that if someone is deeply prejudiced nothing will make him/her change their mind. However, I think many people whose prejudices don’t run so deep are willing to be convinced if we show there are more similarities than differences between us. I’m not a religious person but I thanked the Scottish education system of my time at school for making sure I had some kind of grasp on Christian belief because many Afghan people were really pleased to have the chance to talk to a Christian (I should perhaps have said nominal but didn’t because that would have complicated our discussions). The more we talked, the more we came to the conclusion that there is One – God, Allah, whatever – and several paths to reach the same goal.
      Sorry for that ramble. In other, non-religious areas I think it’s down to showing those similarities between us – we all love, we all want the best for our kids, we all feel it if someone says something bad about it, love it when soem praises us.
      My main reason for writing the book was to let people in the west ‘meet’ my friends in Afghanistan.
      And this reply took a lot longer to finish because my son who is the training director for Sexpression (mentioned above) and is just off to do some training courses.

      Liked by 4 people

      • You’re welcome, Mary, and thank you as well. I’ve come to the same conclusion as you over the years, and I appreciate the validation. If anyone would know about this issue, it would be someone like yourself who spent considerable time immersed in another culture. I look forward to reading your books ♥

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Your books sound really interesting. Do you think mixed marriages can ever work – by that I mean with Very different cultures and religion, not when a couple settle in the cosiness of cosmopoltian London!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for saying Drunk Chickens sounds interesting – hope you’ll think about buying it! Doesn’t cost much more than a cup of coffee and lasts longer 🙂
      To answer your question – yes, I do think mixed marriages can work. I remember in Pakistan my boss was saying that she didn’t think they ever worked and next day we received an invitation to a 25th wedding anniversary party from a couple – Pakistani man and German woman. I reckon 25 years is good going. My first husband and I made it nearly 20 years before we split up and we were both Scottish. I also know a German woman and an Afghan man who have been together for many years. They live in Germany – not sure if that makes it easier or more difficult. I don’t deny there are many cultural obstacle to overcome – which is what I write about in my novel No More Mulberries – but I think it can work.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Great interview Mary and Sally. Mary, you’ve experienced a part of the world where many Westerners don’t venture. What would you say was the best part of your time in Pakistan and Afghanistan? And have you found a way to bring a piece of that home with you to Scotland?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you – Sally asks good questions! It’s funny, I have fond memories of Pakistan, especially Karachi (which I thought of as a gigantic Glasgow but with sunshine), but it was Afghanistan which really got under my skin. I think one of the best parts was experiencing the welcome, the openness and the curiosity. People seemed genuinely pleased to meet me, get to know me, ask questions about my life in Scotland in a way we in the west tend not to do. Of course not everyone liked me: none of us like all the people we meet. I think it is something to do with the fact Afghans and Pakistanis were not afraid to acknowledge they didn’t know a lot about foreigners and were eager to learn. They often started by asking, what to us seem the most personal of questions – how old are you, are you married, how many children, how much do you earn? But, once past that the questions seemed to be really trying to learn about my country, my culture, why ‘my’ politicians did what they did (I lived in Pakistan during the first Gulf War). I don’t think we have that open curiosity – we (obviously not everyone, I’m speaking generally) seem to start from a point where we think we already know a lot about foreigners and don’t feel the need to really learn about their lives and their culture.
      I truly felt accepted wherever I went in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and I try to show that acceptance of people coming into ‘my’ country. Does that answer your question? I tend to ramble on, wishing we were sitting in the same room together.

      Liked by 4 people

      • It does, Mary. I suspected that your answer would be “the people” as the best part of your experience. I love experiencing and hearing about how people, despite their cultural differences, are just people. ❤

        Liked by 3 people

  7. A fascinating interview, Mary. I couldn’t help thinking that my life has been so humdrum after reading about yours. There is such richness of experience to bring to your writing and to your readers!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What an interesting life! To be immersed in a different country and culture would have to be the best way to get to know it and learn the language. Do you find that you have ‘absorbed’ some aspects of the life you had there so deeply that it has become a part of your life now ?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you – we meet again on Sally’s blog 🙂 You are right about total immersion being the best way to learn the language. At first everyone wanted to practise their English which didn’t help at all but once they realised I needed to learn Dari everyone was very helpful and re-telling my son’s bedtime stories helped. One night it was Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and everyone got very excited saying, “That’s one of OUR stories!”
      I’ve absorbed some aspects of my life there which might seem surprising. I have never lost my respect for how difficult it was to have clean water for drinking, for bathing, etc. If you have to fetch water in buckets from a well or a spring you appreciate the time and effort and don’t waste it. As a result, I tend never to water geraniums. In Afghanistan, many people grew them in pots outside their homes and they never watered them even though it never rained. They survived. My Scottish geraniums get plenty of rain and if we have a few days without it they won’t come to any harm. I never leave the tap running while I brush my teeth!
      I sometimes get superstitions mixed up such as if the teapot runs dry when pouring someone a cup of tea I’ll say, without thinking, “Oh, your mother-in-law doesn’t like you.” Then remember this is not a superstition we have here.
      It is the little, everyday things which seem to stick as much as the big things.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I can relate to a lot of that. We moved here to Australia from Finland when I was 7. None of us could speak English. Even now, after living here for – well, a lifetime really – some people still pick up on an accent. I do at times have strange ways with the english language I’m told 🙂 In my heart I carry my ‘finnish-ness’ and mix it gleefully with the Aussie english-ness. Best of all worlds!

        Liked by 3 people

  9. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  10. A delightful interview, Sally and Mary. Mary’s life sounds very interesting and I will certainly read this book. I live in South Africa and there are many things about living in Africa that make it very colourful compared to the UK, so I do understand Mary’s feeling on her return home. I do wish we had a more efficient postal service thought – I get really tired of waiting 6 weeks for every book I order.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What an enjoyable interview ladies. I loved the exerpt from the book which I have just bought.
    Do you feel that you were accepted into the community as a Western woman, and did the men treat you differently than they would a woman from their own country?

    I ask this because for 10 years I was married to a Kurdish man, and when the women used to go into another room to eat, I stayed with the men and was served by the women(which I found uncomfortable). I much pereffered it when I got to know them better and ate in the kitchen with them! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Judy for your kind comments – and for buying the book. I hope you enjoy it.
      At first it was difficult to be accepted into the community and the men treated me as an honorary man and honoured guest so I would eat with them. It wasn’t the women who served us but young boys of the family. After I began teaching and was living in the community it became easier and I could escape to join the women in the kitchen – where there was a lot more laughter than in the guest room with the men.
      As I explain in the book I felt accepted when families stopped killing things for me to eat and didn’t apologise for serving me the same food they were having. I knew I was really accepted when I was expected to join the search parties for a lost lamb.
      One thing which really helped bring down the barriers was having my small son with me.

      Liked by 4 people

      • It is funny you said ‘honorary man’ as I was also going to put that was how I was treated! It really does sound as though you fitted in well, and I know you have mentioned how much you loved being there 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  12. Congrats to you Mary on your upcoming publication. Wow, I can’t believe you are thinking of taking on doing 3 blogs! And, what a wonderful idea to put your Goldfish blog into a memoir, I think that would be fantastic for the so many carers who also care for loved ones with that disease, and for everyone else to get a heads up about what that life entails. You are a wonderwoman! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Debby. I’m definitely no wonder woman 🙂
      I’m still wondering if I can do 3 blogs. I just feel I’d like a blog of my own – nothing to do with the Goldfish and dementia – so I can reblog posts I enjoy and maybe even try some of the writing prompts, interview other bloggers. Of course, if I do start a new one, it may not have any followers so no one would want to be interviewed!
      I do think, based on comments from followers, that the Goldfish blog will make a good book which could be useful to many other people. I know there are quite a lot out there now but when I first started on the dementia journey with my father I had no idea what to expect.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That’s the beauty of putting our words ‘out there’ Mary, eventually those who resonate with our words do come. And as for that 3rd blog, I wouldn’t worry about gathering followers. You are already an established author and blogger. You can just broadcast your new blog on your other posts with a link as I’ve noticed quite a few authors doing who start another blog, and your regular readers will visit, share and help spread the word. And I should think many would love to be interviewed! You can count me in if you’re looking. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Mary and Sally and everyone just wanted to say what a wonderful interview and how much I enjoyed reading all the comments and Mary’s answers. Most of us never get to experience much of the world and Mary you really drew me in and for a moment made me feel I was there in a place that when we do see it on television is often presented negatively. When you were talking about Aghan women, all I was seeing was my Nan, mum and her sisters all crippled with laughter at one of our family get-togethers. We might be half a world away but we are essentially all the same! It is lovely to be reminded of that in this day and age.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Paul. Your description of the laughter at one of your family get-togethers is exactly how I’d like readers to see my Afghan friends. I wrote the book to try to show the real people behind the news headlines – ordinary women and their families living their lives as best they can. We are all the same – we laugh and cry at the same things, fall in and out of love, fight and make up with friends and neighbours. There are, of course, negatives just as there are here.
      I remember once doing a talk in a library and someone asked what ‘we’ could do about how violent Afghan men are towards their wives. My jaw dropped and then I asked her what were ‘we’ doing to stop domestic violence here – especially after an Old Firm football match.
      I won’t get on my soapbox! Thanks again for your lovely comments, Paul.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mary really It’s us who should thank you for holding up this mirror to our common humanity and reminding us people are not headlines and you can’t lump everyone together.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Sorry to get to this so late. One of these days I’ll get better organised. A fascinating life. Now I just need to read Mary’s books…Interviews can be such a great way of finding things about people, and sometimes they can result in discoveries for the interviewees too. Thanks Mary and Sally.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Now worries about being late to the party, Olga. My level of organisation is probably worse than yours and I’ve skipped a few posts recently on which I would usually comment. There are not enough hours in the day, are there?
      I am pleased you enjoyed the interview. You are right about the interviewee discovering things about themselves – have discovered how long-winded I can be, especially when talking about Afghanistan. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve really enjoyed it, Sally – any opportunity to talk about Afghanistan. It’s the Afghan New Year today so there will be great celebrations. I forgot to make my ‘aft mewa’. You soak seven kinds of dried fruits in water for several days and end up with a delicious juice and fruit compote with which to celebrate.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Mary Smith, Steve Boseley and D. Wallace Peach | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  16. Barbara Dickson is also one of my favourite singer’s. Mary. It’s a shame that we don’t see or hear much about her now. I first saw her in ‘Blood Brothers’ in London’s West End and instantly fell for her singing voice. I’ve got a good few of her albums, all of which, help me write. 😀 My question for you, Mary, is if you were given the opportunity to take just one return trip in a time machine, where would you go and why? You can see that my sci-fi element is making itself known with that question. 😀

    Thanks so much for interviewing Mary, Sally.
    Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barbara has an amazing voice, doesn’t she. I read an interview recently in which she was a bit shirty with the interviewer for seeming to suggest she might be thinking of retiring – she’s not!
      If I was really, really sure I could return in the time machine I’d love to go back to Mongolia in the time Genghis Khan. He gets a very bad press for his brutality but he brought unity to many nomadic tribes, allowed people to follow their own religion, believed in meritocracy and built an amazing empire and opened up the Silk Route for trade. I’d just like to see how things really were under his rule – as long as I could make my escape.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Wow, such adventures for Mary! Nice to learn more about her through the interview, Sally. I can only imagine what has been seen in Afghanistan. All the best to Mary with the blog makeover in 2017 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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