It’s been a long break between blogs - and it struck me that I haven't written a blog post about my new book yet!
2020 has been quite a fecund year for me - this is my 5th book of the year! A new record! My 11th Travelogue, my 6th motorbiking travelogue and 15th book overall!
This has obviously been due to the fact that the lockdown limited all other activity and luckily enough the muse also blessed me and allowed my writing to flow freely. The year started with ‘One Man Goes Trekking’ - then followed the rest of the ‘Backpacking’ series - ‘One Man Goes on a Bus’ and ‘One Man Gets the Sack’. Then I went several years ahead in time and told the story of our cycling trip ‘One Man Goes Cycling’ which was pretty recent.
So now you had 5 books of the Amigos and 5 books of the Backpacking series.
Now it was time for a bit of a homecoming and writing about Motorcycle travel! But one can think of it as a coming together of the motorcycling and solo backpacking travels - as this book was about my first solo long ride. All my earlier rides had been as part of a group - either a big group like the Royal Enfield official rides or the rides with our local group - the alas now-defunct Konkan Moto Tours - and then obviously the memorable adventures of the Amigos.
But alas, the Amigos were not available for a long ride - Adi was out of India...and married...and Delzad was wrapped up in work. So what to do?
What to do? Ride Alone of course!
Bharathi SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED kicked me in the pants and reminded me of my solo travel days, and I decided to go alone for the ride. Travelling alone is a different experience altogether and is very intense and different from travelling in a group. I had ridden alone earlier - but this would be the first long ride alone - and I looked forward to it!
And Uttarakhand was a place which I had been wanting to explore on bike for quite some time. I had made numerous trips there before of course - but not on bike.
The thing about a solo trip is that you are completely free to do your own thing and let your thoughts and behaviour flow freely. Obviously, you need to have a broad schedule in mind, but you can do your own thing all the time. Thus I was able to do crazy things like go solo trekking to Valley of Flowers and Tungnath and Deoriyatal and meet sadhus and solo bikers and wage a battle against bureaucracy to ride to Mana pass etc - which would probably not have been on the menu if I had been in a group.
Writing this book was a real joy - I had made daily notes of the trip and between those and the photos I took, was able to recreate the trip easily in my mind. I think that a travel book without historical, cultural and emotional context is just a guide book - you might as well just read a ‘Lonely Planet’ - and so I enjoyed plugging in all the titbits I found interesting - History, mythology, culture and my personal experiences and thoughts.
One thing I have been trying in recent books is to mention writers if they have written about the area I was travelling through and bring forth their points of view. Thus in ‘One man goes on a bus’ I quoted Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Kim’ - because he seems to be the only guy to have even mentioned the Spiti region ever in a book. In ‘One Man Goes Cycling’ I mentioned Jerome K Jerome and his awesome cycling adventure ‘Three men go on a bummel’ and P G Wodehouse’s hilarious stories of Bertie Wooster and his midnight ride on a rickety cycle.
And since I was writing about Uttarakhand, there is only one writer who springs to mind - Ruskin Bond, the grand old man of Dehradoon. I have been a fan of Ruskin Bond since childhood and thus was very glad to pop in a homage to the master in my book.
Check out this review of the book https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3628616373
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by... and got hopelessly lost!
And found that it was the wrong way!
And so had to come back and take the one more travelled by!
- Robert De-frost"
One more marvellous travelogue by Ketan Joshi. This time he rides and hikes alone to Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand, especially the Garhwal Himalayas have always fascinated me. So when I read the title of the book, there were no second thoughts about ordering it. A book about biking and hiking in Uttarakhand, and penned down by Ketan Joshi, one of my most favourite travel writers, is certainly something to arouse excitement. Ketan's style of writing is hilarious. He makes normal incidents extraordinary, with his choice of words and expressions. His adventures and misadventures are a treat to read. What is the life without misadventures! I equally love reading about when he gets lost, as about his spending emotional moments all alone at wonderful places. Nature evokes all of our suppressed emotions and makes our thoughts clear. Time, spent alone with Nature, is something to treasure for life.
All the places visited by Ketan are all described in detail in a picturesque way. Sometimes I felt I am riding and hiking beside him. His leisurely journey was enough to refresh my wandering soul that was under lockdown for past eight months. I am a big fan of travelogues, but because of not being able to travel anywhere during lockdown, I kept myself away from travelogues. But Ketan's books were an exception. These always bring a smile on the reader's face.
Icing on the cake was Ruskin Bond. How? Ketan, being a huge fan of Ruskin Bond, has quoted a number of lines about Garhwal Himalayas, written by Ruskin Bond. I am an ardent fan of Ruskin Bond. So this was sure a triple treat for me.
1. A travelogue about Uttarakhand
2. A travelogue by Ketan Joshi
3. A number of excerpts from Ruskin Bond's books
I loved this book and will be waiting for more such gems from Ketan's experiences."
Do check out the book - ebook and paperback versions are available - and do let me know your views.
Moments like these are what make writing worthwhile
A reader from the US read the 'Amigos' motorcycling series and liked it so much that he got in touch with me and couriered me a gift from the US - 'guardian bells ' to protect the bike from gremlins...one for each of us :) jacket patches, and a very sweet letter.
I was extremely touched. Thanks Mike.
I blog about my travels - and the thoughts they set off! Sometimes the simplest destinations can be the most thought-provoking!