Sunday, February 8, 2015

7 continents reading journey, part 2: Himalaya (+ Mallorca & Burma)

Reading this week: the next books for the "7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books Challenge", and stories of long hauls:

For the start of the 7 continents reading challenge, I visited one of the countries with most population on earth: China. From there, the reading journey now leads to a place that is more about solitude: to the highest places on earth. Which are located in: Nepal, China, Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. After checking the map, it's easy to see that all of those countries belong to the Himalaya region:

What I didn't expect, though, is to find 3 countries in this "highest" category also belong to the"most populated" category of the first stop: China, India and Pakistan. Especially as high regions aren't synonym for comfortable living: the higher the region, the more difficult to live there.

This time, instead of looking for a book from a specific country, I looked for a book about the Himalaya. And arrived high in the past, in the pages of a book that is now 90 years old:

"The Assault on Mount Everest" by Charles G. Bruce
The Assault on Mount Everest is a chronicle of the first climbing attempt upon Mount Everest, written by the expedition leader, Brig. Gen. Charles G. Bruce. This expedition in 1922 followed the reconaissance expedition of 1921 to find a route on to the mountains, and was man's first attempt to climb the highest mountain in the world. The book has since been reprinted many times, and is available both as paperback or e-book.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but the book is both interesting and surprising, telling about the beauty of the landscape, the details of logistics of such an expedition, and the task of reaching Everest and setting up camps while dealing with the unstable weather. And it starts with a rather philosophical reflection:
"What is the good of it all? Who will benefit if the climbers eventually get to the top?"- "The wrestling with the the mountain makes us love the mountain. For the moment we are utterly exhausted and only too thankful to be able to hurry back to more congenial regions. Yet all the same, we shall eventually get to love the mountain for the very fact that she has forced the utmost out of us, lifted us just for one precious moment high above our ordinary life.."
While reading the book, I visited the library and saw another Himalaya book, which tells the larger story of the Everest ascends:

"Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest"
A former mountaineering guide himself, Tenzing retells some of the most famous Everest climbs. He focuses on the life and career of his grandfather, Tenzing Norgay, "the most renowned of all Sherpas, Man of Everest, Tiger of the Snows," who made the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Tenzing also explores and explains the Sherpa society and history.

Together, the two books made a good contrasting combination: the past and the now, the view from a British explorer and from someone who belongs to the culture there, the first steps into the unknown and the modern trend of climbing mountains, the economical and cultural impact those tours have.

For some impressions of the Himalaya, of Tashi Tenzing and of mountaineering, try this video (which includes 3 of the 7 highest countries :)
Trekking the Himalaya with Tashi Tenzing - Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan

The week brought two other world reads, too, both from the library, and both about living abroad for a while:

"A Year in Mallorca" ("Ein Jahr in Mallorca”)... the memoir of a journalist who went to live and work there, and tells of the non-touristy view of things, and the atmosphere in Mallorca beyond the tourist season. It also tells about the challenge to start anew in a new, foreign place. It was interesting, to see this other side of Mallorca, after having been to Mallorca myself.

"Burma Chronicles" ... 
is a graphic novel. It was one of the recommended reads on an internatioal book list, and made me remember the library system of  "Fernleihe" - “distant ordering”, which connects libraries in South Germany. The author is Guy Delisle, a French-speaking Canadian, who lived in Burma with his wife (who belongs to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Border) and their young son. The book is lovely, charming and personal: the impressions of living in another culture, and the encounters there. It’s not one long novel, but short moments and stories, between one and eight pages. Like a diary in comic style. One of the stories is included in this review, about living just a street from Aung San Suu Kyi (called "The Lady" in Burma): Sneak Peek / Burma Chronicles

I like the idea that this travel book also went on a trip after I ordered it. The tag in its back tells its origin: Karlsruhe ZKM - the library of the media museum in Karlsruhe, which I want to visit since a while.


Global Reading Challenge 2015 + Currently Reading:

For 2015, I try to read books / authors from different countries, the idea is to visit all continents. If you want to, join the reading challenge: 7 Continents, 7 Billion People, 7 Books - or just join the international facebook reading group.

In the previous book post, I put together some reading statistics and book memories of 2014 - so if you are into geeky reading statistics, try this link: A year in reading in geek statistics +  book memories

For more reading notes, click here: life as a journey with books. A reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country


Unknown said...

Interesting books. I will look up the challenge and see if it is something I want to do. I just finished a book from England and am starting one based in France so maybe I am already 1/7 of the way there. Happy armchair travels and thanks for visiting my blog.

Dorothee said...

hi sarala - i just visited your blog and saw your snow lake photo again. would be lovely if you joined the armchair travels, too.