Monday, March 5, 2018

The Green Unknown

The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills, by Patrick Rogers

I was offered a review copy of a book about walking through part of India!  How could I pass that up?

Meghalaya is an Indian state in the far northeast, on the northeaster border of Bangladesh and not too far from Myanmar.  It's a steeply mountainous area covered in jungle, with the highest rainfall in the world, leading to waterfalls and floods.  The people live in villages scattered throughout the mountains, often having different dialects just a few miles apart, even though they travel around a lot.  Tourism is mostly confined to one or two points of view, but Patrick Rogers became fascinated with the area and wanted to explore more.

In particular, Rogers was interested in the root bridges that the locals have built over generations.  The native ficus trees have long, strong roots that can, over years, be trained into bridges spanning the chasms all over the landscape.  To the inhabitants, they're just a normal, inexpensive way to get around.  To the rest of us, they're an amazing meld of nature and craft.  There aren't as many as there used to be, though, and so Rogers got interested in documenting them (nobody seems to have a real idea of how many there are) and hopefully encouraging their preservation; he writes a good deal about local people trying to drum up interest.

Root bridge at Nongsteng.  Photo: Patrick Rogers

Rogers writes lyrically about the beauties and dangers of the Meghalayan mountains, and humorously about his own adventures therein.  It's a nice combination, and I really enjoyed the book.  He writes about exploring mountain paths (not always very safely), visiting villages, how to wait out a monsoon, and what to eat.

The Green Unknown is only a buck on Kindle, and that's a good deal. You can check out the book's website here; just watch out for the myriad photos of really gigantic spiders!  (I would really like to visit Meghalaya and hike around and cross a root bridge.  I'm doubtful about my ability to cope with conditions and with giant spiders.  Maybe if I cut all my hair off?)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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