Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Himalaya by Michael Palin

It had been 10 calendar days since my return from the Himalayas but the memories of it still lingered in the forefront of my mind when I first spotted this book in the duty free shop at Indira Gandhi International Airport at Delhi as we were returning back from India. I wanted to submerge in this warm glow of this book but the carry-on luggage already bursting to its seams prevented me from making another purchase.

Our first weekend back from the month long trip, besides stocking up on the groceries we went to the local library to stock up on the reading material as well and since I so vehemently believe in signs, when I spotted this book at the shelf, I knew I needed to read the book.

I became familiar with Michael Palin, after DH read the book Sahara and we watched the BBC documentary of the same name. I loved his style of connecting with the people and his matter of fact approach to local customs and way of life.

The book revolves around 3000miles journey through the entire the Himalayan range along with the Hindu Kush mountain range and the Karakorum that was part of the documentary that is on my wish list to see next. It included visits to 6 countries - Pakistan, India, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The documented journey starts from Khyber Pass in Pakistan, goes through Chitral, Gilgit, Scardu, Karakoram highway among other places before entering India through Wagah border at Amritsar.
So far I found the journey extremely interesting but as soon as it crosses the border and enters India, there was something substantially lacking in the depth of the topics covered. It seemed that the book was trying to paint the whole scene with a very broad brush and there could be multiple reasons. I, for one, am very familiar with the region and was looking for more details than the documentary planned to include also my memories were so rich from the recent travel that I kept think but well, ‘you missed this or that’. Other than that the views, but for obvious reasons, were influenced by the escort/guide that they picked for the travel in particular regions and lacked in depth research on the area and the subjects. But this impression was mostly present in the India portion of journey, at other times in other countries, I wasn’t aware of the complete story so could just question in my mind so about the other side of the story and move on.

But this book nonetheless increased my curiosity for the regions thriving within the himalayan range and I can tell this quest is going to end up in going through many books before I can physically visit each of them. I am no mountaineer but now have a deep desire to at least travel to the base camp of Everest and K2 and experience it for myself, may capture it through my lens and bring it along.

Michael Palin has a website for all his travel documentaries and books that have extensive pictures from the trip. You can explore 'Himalaya' and decide for yourself the travel and cultural prospect of the region. I once more find myself smitten...

1 comment:

  1. Cool!! I visited website!! Nice captures!! Keep posted..