Author: Nandita Haksar & Publisher: Rupa Publications
In the book, Nandita Haksar and her husband, Sebastian Hongray, embark on a trip from Nepal to reach the Chicken Neck, the slim strip of land which connects the Northeast region to the rest of India. They then make their way in and out of different states in the Northeast and finally drive to Delhi via Nepal. Covering 15,000-plus kilometers in four months, the journey provides the couple a unique opportunity to experience first-hand areas affected by separate insurgencies being waged by people seeking homelands and identities for themselves. Nandita not only talks about her own observations regarding the same but also discusses the topic with interesting and knowledgeable people she meets on her way—friends, relatives and even strangers.
Travelogues are always interesting to read but this book is a great blend of a travelogue and political writing which makes it extra special. The book not only describes the many wonderful destinations but also talks about their history and political backgrounds which many are not aware of and others have forgotten. Her style of writing is clever and interesting and one can also notice that the book has a fast pace which can only mean one thing—there is never a dull moment.
Another great thing about this book is the information and facts that has been provided; Nandita has clearly done her research well and has offered the reader some interesting titbits that help hold one’s attention. Besides holding your attention, it also gives you a better understanding of the region’s people and the current scenario, after all, history is the best teacher of them all. This is a book that brings forth a unique portrait of the Northeast that has not been seen before; at least not in the same way Nandita has been able to portray it. The only complaint with the book is the lack of photos. More pictures would have definitely added to the book’s charm. Because there are many interesting monuments and structures that were beautifully described in the book, one feels the need to look at the photo to see for oneself. But even then, you are sure to realize that this is one book that you will not forget after you have read it.
Although it is non-fiction, it is a great book to read for all book lovers, no matter if you prefer fiction or non-fiction as it is a great concoction of mythology, history, sociology, political analysis and anecdote.
Words: Meeta Borah