Before I share my thoughts on this amazing book, let me first tell you the delightful backstory to it.
A woman with whom I am in contact on Twitter/X ,but have never met in person, sent it to me to celebrate her birthday month.
When the book arrived with a message wishing me happy adventures in 2024, I was beyond moved.
The whole “kindness of strangers” thing, actually happening, and emanating from Twitter/X which can often be a pretty toxic place.
Too kind, Amalia 🙂
And now to the book, which is wonderful.
It is the poetically written story of a man’s solo trek across the Himalayas from Pakistan to Tibet and India, a journey that is immensely spiritual for the author, who is grappling with the tragic, accidental death of his younger brother.
Mr. Lineen spent years living in the Himalayas, learning Hindi, and immersing himself in the cultures and lifestyles of the places he lived. This knowledge and great sensitivity is what enables him to be accepted so warmly and openly by the people he meets on his long, solo walk. His ability to sit and listen, to talk to people, and to live simply and sparingly are valuable tools, as he moves through villages and hamlets, pitching his tent, cooking his “dal chawal” (lentils and rice) and having innumerable cups tea along the way.
Walking is meditation for Mr. Lineen, who tries to put his brother’s death into some form of acceptable perspective, and his memoirs of Gareth are intertwined with the emotions and experiences he encounters on his long odyssey.
The author is rarely critical of, or irritated by, things or people – barring some odious boys who start pelting him with rocks – and this calm acceptance of what the open road throws at him is endearing. Mr. Lineen didn’t really want company on his journey, preferring to travel solo, but while reading this lovely book I kept thinking what a marvellous travel companion he would make – undemanding, happy with the simple joys and pleasures in life, and with an ability to see the sublime in every turn of the road. Plus he travels with coffee.
I loved the book, and didn’t want it to end, not only because of his beautiful descriptions of the Himalayas, but also because I was learning so much – Mr. Lineen’s knowledge of India (a country I call home) and her religions and language and culture is impressive.
“Inspirational” is a much over-used word, but in this case it is spot on.
This is, truly, an inspirational book.
I would never wish a tragedy like Mr. Lineen’s on anyone, but he has managed to extract as much grace and goodness from the loss of his brother, finding peace and beauty amidst great sorrow, and for this I applaud him. And thank him for sharing his journey with us.