Some years ago, consumed by a mix of nostalgia and curiosity that followed the reading of a book on Genghis Khan, I developed an urge to visit Mongolia. I knew nothing about the country. The websites I scanned threw up images of a sleepy capital, Ulaanbaatar, surrounded by a vast, cold, and dry desert, dotted with settlements of herders living in gers. It seemed like a place untouched by modernity, a country the world had forgotten. This discovery only increased my curiosity, and when I spoke to Wife about a Mongolian holiday she promptly struck it down, wondering aloud if I next planned to visit the moon. Undeterred, I nurtured the idea for a while, creating imaginary itineraries along the steppes Genghis Khan rode eight centuries ago. Then, like other fantasies, this one too faded under the overpowering glare of daily life.