Book: Walking in Clouds
Author: Kavitha Yaga Buggana
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 152; Price: Rs 350
Kavitha Yaga Buggana’s debut book ‘Walking in Clouds’ is a travelogue chronicling the journey to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, the holiest of Hindu and Buddhist sites, undertaken by her and her cousin.
While the book may have been published now, the seeds were sown in 1980’s when Kavitha and her cousin, Pallavi (Pallu), first started dreaming of travelling to Lord Shiva’s abode after hearing a friend of the author’s father recount his personal experience of the journey, which he undertook once the route to Manasarovar was re-opened a couple of decades after the Indo-China war.
Despite being an atheist, the author and her cousin during their journey struggle to reconcile their views and faith. We are allowed access to the conflict between the author’s rationalist view and her fascination with Lord Shiva and other Hindu deities. It also has an element of the surreal with the best example being the author describing a blue light that radiated from the sky as she’s waking up on the day they are supposed to climb the Dolma La pass, a light which she believed to have emanated from the ‘Neelakantha’. She, though, also while questioning the myths, shares the stories and in doing so helps to give credence to them by juxtaposing the location and myth.
The travelogue reads like a diary and paints a vivid picture of their trek through the beautiful, but treacherous Himalayan landscape, their encounter with PLA soldiers, the camaraderie between the trekkers, the campfire tales and even Kavitha’s brush with death.
The photographs taken mostly by her co travellers add to the book’s appeal as they bring to life the trip, the people they encountered en route and the mystical places they saw.
The book also is a testimony to the fact that there is no expiration date to dreams. While Kavitha and Pallu may have dreamt of adventures as children, their journey to the site that’s "more close to the sky than to the earth" in 2011, when they are in their 40’s, shows that one needs to continue to believe in one’s dreams and they will come true.
As the author says towards the end, “Our journey is over, and the beauty of the lake and the mountain is already distant. Yet, the things that stay with us will be as eternal as anything in this life can be.” If the story of Kavitha and Pallu’s journey can inspire any of the readers to undertake a similar journey or actually rouse them to try and fulfil any childhood dream then the book will remain embedded in their minds and souls eternally and it would have done its job.
The author admits in her afterword that she didn’t chronicle some other amazing locations that they visited, like the ancient cave kingdoms of Guge, the drive to the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, etc. We hope she keeps her word and soon comes out with a travelogue about these incredible sites.