Editorial Review: Walking in Clouds, A Journey to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar by Kavitha Yaga Buggana
Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar may be the destination for millions of pilgrims and trekkers alike, but it’s every step of the journey there that matters to Kavitha and Pallu.
Walking in Clouds: A Journey to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar is a travelogue written from the author's point of view, through all the stunning vistas and dangers of a trek like this. The reader gets an insight into the thoughts and inner dialogue of a trekker not entirely prepared physically for a trek of this magnitude. As these women are in their 40’s with families at home and responsibilities to get back to, it is refreshing to read a travelogue from this angle.
This book is a culmination of a promise made between cousins when they were children in boarding school - the journey to the ‘roof of the world’ and the many thousand steps they would take to get there. The lifelong plans made by Kavitha and Pallu are put off several times by external forces – life, politics, and permits – until one day the journey unexpectedly calls them.
The trekking sections are beautifully written and they are well interspersed with other tidbits. These range from tales from the life story of the author and her cousin to detailed historical discussions of the places they are trekking through.
The writing depicts the scenes with such clarity that they become almost tangible in your mind's eye. Our narrator defies many of the stereotypes western readers may expect from an Indian woman trekking to a Hindu pilgrimage site. Discussion of mythologies, beliefs, customs, and cultures of those who are different from the author are gentle, done with kindness, and a desire to understand. Difficult political situations are discussed delicately but without holding back – an impressive balancing act when discussing this region.
Anyone who has ever trekked in the Himalayas will absolutely revel in the exquisite details of this book. Conversely, anyone who has ever entertained the thought of trekking the Himalayas will be mentally planning their trip before they have even finished the book. Kavitha Yaga Buggana has crafted a vivid account of an incredible journey that truly transports the reader to the mountaintops. Throughout this book, the author weaves a palpable thread of inquisitiveness and wonder for the environment in which she finds herself. This is an armchair travel book for those with a lust for adventure.
Kavitha Yaga Buggana’s writing is brilliant, and Walking in Clouds is a genuinely enjoyable read that will fill readers' hearts and souls with awe, inspiration, and curiosity.