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Published on: 07/17/18 6:20 AM

Book Review: The Himalayan Arc Edited by Namita Gokhale

The Himalayan Arc, Journeys East of South-east. Edited by Namita Gokhale. HarperCollins.

More geopolitical than travelogue, this is an interesting compilation where the snow-topped mountains feature less, and the lands that lie east of the massif, on its sides and its foothills, its plains and valleys feature more. Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar, all of the glorious Indian northeast, are the places where the focus is trained.

The more insightful pieces include Prajwal Parajuly`s Downhill in Darjeeling, where he talks to a waiter who tells him sagely that Darjeeling folk have more in common with Sikkim than they do with Bengal; so if Gorkhaland is not possible (that being the man`s first choice), then a merger with Sikkim wouldn’t be that bad; Pacifist Prisoners and Militarist monks, the sad saga of Myanmar`s recent political history and present trajectory by Salil Tripathi, where he talks of the basically stoic Burmese who have been at the receiving end of blows and bullets as they rise against tyranny, and its companion piece,  Ma Thida`s A Fierce Fear,  where she movingly describes how Literature for Everyone,  a PEN Myanmar initiative,  has caught on like wildfire amongst a scarred and scared people.

A couple of other poignant reads are Meghna Pant`s Boongthing, in which she marries the self-doubts of a bride with a hidden past to a honeymoon in Sikkim, and the delightful A Tranquil Tenure by Chetan Raj Shreshta where a retired bureaucrat sits in the balcony of his Lajpat Nagar flat and thinks fondly back on his Gangtok posting.

Related Links:

Book review: Wild Himalaya by Stephen Alter

Book review: Himalaya, an Anthology edited by Ruskin Bond and Namita Gokhale

Book review: Walking The Himalayas by Levison Wood

Book review: Sikkim by Andrew Duff

Book review: A Step Away From Paradise by Thomas Shor

Book review: Where the Indus is Young by Dervla Murphy

Book review: Becoming A Mountain by Stephen Alter

Book review: Nanda Devi, a Journey to The Last Sanctuary by Hugh Thomson

Bhutaneast of the Himalayaedited by Namita GhokalegeopoliticsMyanmarNepalnortheast IndiaThe Himalayan ArcTibet

Sheila Kumar • July 17, 2018

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