10 weird things about travelling in the 17th century

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Sarmaya’s collection of rare books and its ever-growing library contains many travelogues describing journeys from Britain to India. In the early and mid-1600s Englishmen were undertaking these voyages driven by curiosity about a land reputed to be both rich in spices, minerals and precious stones, and welcoming to strangers. But these travellers had to proceed with caution. This job called for diplomacy, resourcefulness and a cast-iron stomach. Plus, you had to be able to sketch, conduct interviews and at times just stare open-mouthedly at the locals.

Here are some other incredible facts about travel in the 17th-century:

1. It. Took. Forever.

Six months and 7 days. That’s how long it took for Captain Thomas Best’s ships to get from England to the port of Daman in 1612. They set sail in February and it was September by the time they reached Surat. According to the Captain’s log, published in a compendium called ‘Travels in India in the Seventeenth Century’, a typical day at sea looked something like this (right):

2.Your friends died along the way. A lot

At first glance, the Captain’s log seems like a dull document filled with maritime code and directions. But for the sensitive soul, it reads like a litany of loss:

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