17 June, 2021

A Slice Of Nirvana

Breezy, but with insights that make this travelogue a treasure

A Slice Of Nirvana
DIVINING the Deccan looks like a simple tale of motorcycle journey-albeit a low-budget one-with the author surviving on tea and occasional ice-cream. It is in fact much more. It's a gazetteer-cum-guidebook-cum-travelogue with information tightly packed on every page.

You might expect a travelogue to stick to the places the author actually visits, but Divining the Deccan is Bill Aitken at large, rather than Bill on a bike from point A to point B. He has no compunction in discussing at length the places he avoids. Without a qualm, he abandons his plan to go to Ajanta, but still treats us to a detailed description. He bypasses Matheran on his bike, not in his book. Wherever he does go, he takes photographs which are reproduced in black and white. My favourite shows him on his bike crossing a river in a coracle, looking like a fledgling in its nest. But he devotes much less space to what he sees on his current trip than to recounting stories he has collected over the years and during his many previous tours of the Deccan.

His style is highly personalised,...

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