Just finished this really interesting travel book called River Dog. I found it most enthralling since it takes a lot to undertake a journey of this nature. Not only is it fraught with dangers and risks of all kinds; but the Himalayas, Tibet and Arunachal are not very friendly terrains for travel.
Mark Shand, the author of the book, follows the source of the mighty Brahmaputra from Tibet, through Arunachal Pradesh (where it becomes the Siang), through Assam and then finally empties out into the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh.
Picture taken in 2004 when I last visited home, from the banks of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati.
His journey is peppered with his experiences with interesting people, harsh terrains, his many challenges and adventures (like falling off a swinging bridge, nearly bitten by a snake etc.) on the way. I liked it more because of Shand’s sense of humour that is woven into the very fabric of all his adventures, making for really interesting reading. In the beginning itself, Shand starts off looking for a dog. His reasoning is that all great explorers had dogs and besides, if he was stranded somewhere with nothing to eat, at least, he had the dog!
Of course, it never comes to that! Shand in fact, finds a wonderful hunting dog from the Lushai hills of Assam. Somewhere in between his journey, Shand has a weird conversation with his dog. And though it’s under the influence of opium, it’s really funny never the less. Especially, if you have a dog or a dog lover, it won’t even seem that improbable! We’ve all perhaps had similar conversations with our pets (of course not under any influence :).
Read this one for several reasons. Mostly because you get a taste of the verdant and unexplored North East; and also to get a glimpse what it takes to become an intrepid traveler And of course, for the dog, who he names Bhaiti (younger brother in Assamese).
I might be a little partial to it because of its references to Assam, the Brahmaputra and Bhaiti, but I think it will be an enjoyable book for anyone who likes travel and/or dogs! So Usha, Vaish and all those of you who have dogs – this one’s especially for you!
Some facts about the Brahmaputra (source: Wikipedia.org):
– One of the major rivers of Asia. In Sanskrit, it means “son of Brahma”.
– It originates from sacred Mount Kailash in the Himalayan mountains in western Tibet, and passes through India before flowing into the sea in the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh, 2900 km from its source. The river is known as Tsangpo in Tibet, Siang or Dihang in Arunachal Pradesh, Luit or Brahmaputra in Assam, and one of its main branches is the Jamuna in Bangladesh.
– This river eventually joins the Ganges (known in Bangladesh as the Padma) and the Meghna to form the largest river delta in the world, most of which is in Bangladesh.
– The river is prone to catastrophic flooding in spring when the Himalayan snows melt.
– Most Indian rivers bear the name of a female,but this one has a rare male name (putra means “son” in Sanskrit).