Monday, July 29, 2013

A Little Bit of Lhasa 2

Following my blitz of reading stuff about Xinjiang, Tibet and the Himalayas, I just finished Vikram Seth's, From Heaven Lake. This was his first book, written aged 29 when he was studying in China. In the summer break of 1981 he decided to go back to India to see his parents and chose to do it the hard way. Overland. Hitching. 
It was just as China was beginning to open up. A couple of years earlier it probably wouldn't have been possible, and even in the 80s it was fraught with restrictions and frustrations. And yet he did it: in the cab of a truck, with Han & Tibetan travellers for company, through the deserts of Xinjiang, across the Tibetan plateau, to Lhasa, and then walking across the border into Nepal before catching a bus to Kathmandu and a flight to Delhi.
It's good. Poetic, insightful and uncomplaining (even when officialdom very nearly had him kicked out). Seth went on to become much better known as a novelist and poet, but this is an interesting first book.

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