Author: Michael Palin
The unimaginatively named book is a journal of Michael Palin and his team along the Himalayan Mountains, shooting a documentary for BBC. Palin begins his journey from a nondescript location at Khyber Pass, a place where the armies have crossed over in search of rich loot in India from the days of Alexander, and more recently, British. The journey takes him through mountainous regions of Pakistan, Ladakh, Annapoorna Ranges, Tibet, Yunnan and other Himalayan provinces of China, Nagaland and Assam, Bhutan and concluding with Bangladesh where every drop of precipitation on these mountains drains into.
It’s indeed a long journey and eventful one as he meets the last members of the Kalash tribes, gets close to K2 and feels the high Himalayas from up-close, is humbled by the unforgiving weather as he treks through Annapoorna, lunches with ebullient nomads on the base of everest, and much more and more.
Palin’s experiences invoke a never-before jealousy in the mountain lover who is ever-dreaming of being in these less mundane locations. But for the BBC team, the going is not always easy. They are constantly on their tows, low on time and always having to keep moving and answering the call of the work before they can get a place sink into their minds and hearts. There are missed opportunities, cold weather and altitude sickness to worry about.
Even as Palin has a subject that can conquer the reader, his writing doesn’t shine as much as the mountains themselves. Written like a personal journal with lot of commentaries and humour thrown in once a while, the flow is not natural from page to page and the reader is left with a feeling that Palin could do more with the pen. Nevertheless the strength of the subject and a reasonable narration, put together with the variety that comes along the journey still makes it a worthy read, especially if you are some one who is always dreaming about the mountains.