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Heading Off at the Khyber Pass
23 Sep 2017
Dream Blog - S.P. Somtow • Somtow Sucharitkul

My dream: we're in a valley. It's some time during the Mughal conquest. There is a dusty road. To my left is a wall of semicircular slabs, giving a scalloped sandstone effect. They slabs are about waist high. As some kind of military commander of architect, I order that my men create a high wall to my right because I sense that the enemy will approach behind the scalloped left wall.

Suddenly, it is the 19th century. Galloping down a (strangely modern looking) city street, General Custer and some members of the 7th Cavalry are fleeing some Lakhota, escaping from the Little Big Horn. 

They are riding towards me. To their right (my left) is a tall red sandstone wall with scaffolding, under construction. One soldier says "Which way shall we go?" General Custer says, "We'll take the Khyber Pass." 

Something odd — even in my dream I realize this isn't the real General Custer because he has no long yellow hair. In fact, it is John Wayne.

A side door opens in the under-construction building and we all go in and suddenly we are on the road that I built during the Mughal Empire a few centuries back, only it has changed; behind the walls on either side are taller, whitewashed buildings which appear to be adobe. 

The Seventh Cavalry rides through, kicking up dust on the road (which is still the old dirt road.) I am left standing in the road alone and we are suddenly in modern times. The adobe-clad buildings have become shops. I look up and on either side, there are some akichita (Sioux warriors) with bow and arrow poised to shoot or prowling about. 

That's when I woke up. The strange thing about this dream was its quality of being in a film ... specifically, with the distinctive coloring of 1950s technicolor, the very saturated orangey-red color of the sandstone ... this color permeating every scene. At one point, I appear to be conscious of being in a movie, recognizing John Wayne (whose stage of ageing places the context as the 1950s).

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