Wednesday, 26 August 2015

One Life to Ride - Book Review


An old patient inspires an old speech therapist to take a road trip on a motor cycle. So the trip begins from Pune. Matching all odds this man with an old body encasing a young mind rides all the way to the highest motorable road in the world which is Khardung La in Ladakh.

I love travelogues. No wonders l liked Ajit Harisinghani’s One Life to Ride. His ride is indeed inspiring. It compels you to come out of your mundane routine and think of what you truly like.

The travelogue is written in a simple, easy to comprehend language. The excitement of the writer on seeing the vales of Ladakh, his fears when he gets struck along the rough patch through which a stream runs have been articulated very well. His yearning to have a hot water bath after a tiring ride, his happiness on seeing something other than dal and rice on his platter (that is the only food which you get in the makeshift hotels of the hilly terrain) make the writer human. In other words he doesn’t make any claims that he is a super human.

On the journey he meets a Sufi saint who does not expect any money from him as well as those mendicants who try hard to extract some money from him. Though these meetings have been made a highlight in the blurb, they are  the least interesting. One Life to Ride is by no chance an Autobiography of a Yogi or Living with the Himalayan Masters. The part where the soldiers swarm around the writer on seeing his motorcycle with Maharashtra passing is poignant. The writer tells how they yearn for their annual leave and also is worried that they may lose their lives to the bullets shot from the enemy gun any time. On meeting them his heart is filled with patriotism, in the same way as millions of Indians feel on watching a patriotic movie.

There are few typographical errors in the book. Like the line on page 79 “A few ofthe beautiful birds are dancing with their plumage fanned open.” The space between of and the is missing. Also A few is incorrect usage. Again on page 103 the space between the words rotis and is missing. The book glorifies drinking and smoking. I did not like it. The writer being an elderly person should not have written about his smoking and drinking adventures at the high altitude, that too when he was advised not to drink or smoke at the great heights. His writing is bound to have an adverse impact on the young readers. The black and white pictures in the book are hazy and ugly. They could have been replaced by colour photographs or avoided all together.

The blurb claims the book to be a real life adventure. But the second page of the book says “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is purely coincidental.” Now what kind of writing is this? Has the writer invented some new genre like fictitious travelogue? If so is the case why does the blurb say that it is a real life adventure?

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