13 May, 2015

#BookReview :: Special Lassi by Amrita Chatterjee

A Backbreaking Misadventure in the Himalayas.

A psychedelic odyssey like no other, spanning the exotic foothills of the eastern Himalayas.

In the summer of 2011, two bleary-eyed kids, teetering on the cusp of adulthood, decide to drop out of the daily grind and just travel. But once they hit the road, their plans go out the window. Soon, they are barreling over potholes the size of lunar craters in Nepal, bungee jumping in Rishikesh, waking up to Buddhist chants in Sikkim and cycling down the world's highest motorable pass in Ladakh. On the way is a constant stream of oddballs, like the five-second-tea lady, the flute-playing hotel manager, flying Sonam, reggae junkies and many more this journey is all about rolling with the punches.

Special Lassi is one part funny, two parts crazy and a whisper of wistful-for the best things are ephemeral and a lust for life is a dangerous thing.

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I do not normally read travelogues… As a result this book sat on my shelves for a long time before I gave into my love for Himalayas and picked it up.

The author, Amrita, bored of the routine life sets off on a backpacking trip with her friend Rivers with only one plan in mind – to see as much of the foothills of Himalaya as possible. With no itinerary to follow, the two friends traipse from Kolkata to Darjeeling and Sikkim to Kathmandu and Lumbini to Haridwar and Leh. On their way they not only take in the beauty of the places but also encounter a multitude of different people who add to this story.

The beauty of this book lies in not only the way author has captured the different essence of all the places but also her own euphoria at experiencing something new and something different at every turn. I have spent about a decade in Darjeeling, pursuing my education, and it was such a beautiful experience to see the Darjeeling I know through her eyes. I have also been to Sikkim and Haridwar and I know that she hasn’t exaggerated any aspect about these locations. All the same it was fun to experience old and new places through her beautiful and engaging narratives. And it certainly helps that she had an entertaining companion in Rivers.

This is an interesting book to read – a travelogue that almost feels like fiction yet the reality of it all is so obvious. Kudos to the author on various levels – to take off for the trip and then to present it for everyone else to read – neither were easy but a job well done.

Review Copy received from Jaico Publishing House

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