An interesting slipstream that I have discovered in my inexhaustible interest in pulp-fiction is the sedentary detective. The sedentary detective does not move about much and certainly never ‘travels’. In spite of living their life in a quiet corner of the world, these guys know seem to everything about human nature needed to crack open mysteries that defy their more well-travelled (and therefore presumably more discerning) peers. Three characters jump out.
Mycroft Holmes is 7 years elder to Sherlock Homes and is the lazy but scarily brighter sibling. Sherlock Holmes mentions how Mycroft is able to sit in one room of the Diogenes club in London and solve puzzling cases that Sherlock has to energetically run hither & thither to crack.
Another such character is Miss Marple. Agatha Christie’s other detective, Miss Marple lives all her life in the little village of St Mary Mead and regularly solves substantial mysteries. As Miss Marple notes in practically all the novels, everything she needs to know about human beings she has learnt from within the little world of St Mary Mead. And there is nothing about human beings she has’nt learnt.
Which now brings me to Precious Ramotswe of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. She too has spent all her life in the environs of a village, Mochudi near Gaborone in Botswana. And yet, knows everything she needs to dissect human beings and solve cases.
They say travel helps you understand more. But, looks like if you are born with the right stuff up there, you dont need to travel to understand.
But of course, if your life’s ambition is to eat the ultimate dim-sum or talk to an inuit making yak milk cheese, you will need to travel.