The north-eastern most state that shares border with Assam and Nagaland to the South and international borders with Bhutan in the west, Burma in the east and China to the North with a Mac mohan Line. The largest of the north-eastern states known as the Seven Sister States, Orchid State of India, Paradise of the Botanists. Adjectives are numerous when it comes to Arunachal Pradesh but still it a state that is still unknown to the world and even Indians where in many of the natives themselves believe that they don’t belong to India. In authoress’s words, the forgotten land. A major passage of drugs, ammunition and black money. Writing a travelogue about such a state is any authors dream and the riskiest task at that. Antonio has made her dream come true through the book.
Grabbing a permission to enter the place is a herculean task, which was made easy for the author-Thanks to the corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy. With the help of a fictitious character John, authoress gets hold of the permission by the officials. Dangerous as it is authoress starts her journey from Guwahati in the two wheeler provided by her aide. Thenceforth starts the most adventurous, suspenseful real journey I have ever witnessed. A woman in her two wheeler travelling all the way from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh upto the Tibetan borders- I was literally having goosebumps where he rode through roads that are name sake amidst deluge. We become the pillion riders and forgets the fact that the trip was already over and I kept on worrying if she would be able to complete the book. The animal sacrifice and the heartlessness of the same send a shiver down my spine. It is difficult to believe that a land that is developing at an enviable rate has a state that is still in the 19th or 18th century so to speak.
The trouble she took in adjusting to the extreme conditions and the ramshackle buildings(Inspection Bungalow) is highly appreciated and surprising especially for a foreigner in India. The sequences with Dojre and the history of Guru Rinpoche is interesting to read. The experiences with different tribes is also refreshing. To remember all the names is difficult and to take the information blast forward we need to read the book more than once. The quest of the secrets of Tsangpo whether it is Brahmaputra is one of the highlights of the book.
Authoress has generously mocked the lack of planning and the corruption in the Indian bureaucracy. The perspective of the author is anti Modi and and she has at some point implied that the Manmohan government has been concerned about the environment and current government concentrates purely on the development and ignores environment and even made pseudo commissions to get sanction, which I felt could have been avoided. This is a travelogue and not political discussion. The deviation is a major put off.
The book is definitely not an easy read. Take this book only if you want to read something of substance rather than as a pastime.
This review is in return of a free book from the publisher