|About the Book|
In the early 1970s the chang and the bhang were the main draw for most western visitors seeking blissed-out enlightenment in the Indian Himalaya. Most stayed months, some stayed years- few were compos mentis enough to contribute much to the local life.It was different for Christina Noble when she arrived in Manali, 7000 feet up in the Kullu Valley. I must have seemed like a hippie (or hippini, as the female is referred to in Kullu), though I didnt consider myself one, she writes in the foreword of this account of setting up a trekking business on a whim. Within a few years she had built a functioning company from scratch, employing local staff and operating out of a rented home.This book is an account of the challenges she faced, the life she created for herself (she had two children from marriage to a local man), and the changes she witnessed. The writing is sparse at times, well-suited to the remote, barren, glaciated landscapes in Lahul, Spiti and Zanskar. One of the most enjoyable aspects is the way she describes the pace of change in this part of India in the 1970s and 1980s. The hippies give way to tourists (she acknowledges her own role in this), the carts are replaced by jeeps, and two-lane highways appear in parts of the Himalaya that were once inaccessible only on foot. She tacitly acknowledges (and tactfully avoids commenting on) the complex question of whether or not this is progress.My life was like anyone elses, she writes, except that I was 7000 feet up in the Himalayas. I dont think I tried to change things as the Memsahibs used to do- I lacked their conviction.The book will appeal most to those who know the Himalayas and can use their own imaginations to conjure up the atmosphere on the many treks, some of which, conducted with an enjoyably cavalier approach, end in well described scrapes.