As a little kid, one place-name that always fascinated me was Timbuktu. I hadn't a clue where it was, which perhaps was the attraction. In those days I suspect few people could pick it out on a map, despite the name frequently cropping up in discussion of all things distant and mysterious.
I eventually looked it up in the atlas, and that even added more to the mystique _ a tiny dot on the edge of the Sahara desert in the middle of nowhere.
These days, with the ongoing French military operation in Mali, Timbuktu has become headline news. But the childhood image of mystical Timbuktu is far more alluring than the present day political morass.
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