We asked our Field Edi­tors to share rem­i­nis­cences about their trusty ref­er­ence book of old

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents -

“THE AT­LAS I GREW UP WITH was a hand-me-down from my brother; his sec­ond-hand, dog-eared Collins World At­las.

This be­came my favourite book, and some­thing of a sta­tus sym­bol. I was touched that he thought I was grown-up enough to ap­pre­ci­ate it.

My brother and I were both named by our fa­ther, a re­cent mi­grant from the UK. Kent was named af­ter his place of birth, and I was my fa­ther’s English Rose. How ea­gerly we scanned the British Isles in our at­las to find where our rel­a­tives and pen­friends lived.

But the winds of change blew over our pre-war maps as de-coloni­sa­tion

re­duced the proud pink British Em­pire to a mere shadow of its for­mer self. Then the Benelux coun­tries united, and New Zealand feared the loss of Mother Britain as our ma­jor trad­ing part­ner. Our lit­tle coun­try had made ma­jor sac­ri­fices for our Mother­land through two World Wars and the De­pres­sion, and now she was f lirt­ing with her Eu­ro­pean neigh­bours. She fi­nally tossed New Zealand adrift on Jan­uary 1, 1973. To my fa­ther, it was the ultimate be­trayal.

Even­tu­ally, my at­las was con­sid­ered in­ac­cu­rate and out of date and I had to buy a new one for school. This lacked the well-used, crum­pled pages and fa­mil­iar old-book smell. There was very lit­tle pink in it, and it felt un­com­fort­ably for­eign. So I carefully tore pages out of my old at­las, and glued them on card­board. My fa­ther helped me to cut them into jig­saw puz­zles as gifts for my friends.

I later trav­elled to many of the places I had learned about in my at­las, and also gained British cit­i­zen­ship, in­clud­ing the priv­i­leges of be­ing part of the Eu­ro­pean Union. Now Brexit may al­ter that, and maybe the UK will once again show loy­alty to her for­mer colo­nial trad­ing part­ners.

Google Search is an easy way to find var­i­ous places, both lo­cal and for­eign, but I still pre­fer to search for ex­otic places in a real page-turn­ing at­las. One day it may be an an­tique!” ROSE­MARY FRAN­CIS, FIELD EDITOR

“When I was 13, I des­per­ately wanted a horse of my own. Even­tu­ally my par­ents soft­ened to the idea and bought me a beau­ti­ful part-Ara­bian bay geld­ing. To set­tle on a name, my fa­ther sug­gested I open our at­las to the page on Saudi Ara­bia, close my eyes and place my fin­ger ran­domly on the page. Bandar Shah (Royal Port) was a won­der­ful horse.” ME­LANIE EGAN, READER’S DI­GEST CHIEF SUBEDITOR

“When I re­tired af­ter 20 years with the same em­ployer, I did not ex­pect to be given a gold watch. I cer­tainly did not ex­pect to be given a Reader’s Di­gest At­las of the World. But that is pre­cisely what my col­leagues de­cided I needed. For the next 15 years that at­las was used by my fam­ily to set­tle geo­graphic dis­putes and plan trips abroad. Sadly, wear and tear forced its re­tire­ment, too.”


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