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Customer Review

on 31 January 2009
Having enjoyed, many years ago, one other book by Eric Newby (can't remember which), and having returned from a primarily wildlife trip to India recently, including trips on parts of the rivers Chambal and Yamuna, (called Jumna in this book), I looked forward immensely to reading this account. And it was indeed great to be able to imagine exactly the sort of scenery, natural and man-made, Newby describes, but I felt uneasy for much of the time as I read on.
First published in 1966, this travelogue was not very appealing to this reader barely 40 years later. It smacked for me too much of the white man travelling in an ex-colony, though I would have to admit that this is a very personal view, reflecting also perhaps my own recent unease in India when I was at times travelling alone with a guide and a chauffeur (not what I would have chosen) in a luxury car, passing though villages of poor Indians. And it offends at the beginning of the 21st century to see Newby with so little respect for, not to mention interest in, the wildlife on and around the river.
Two more concrete criticisms: as another reviewer says, the accounts do get a bit repetitive, and I think that this aspect would have been alleviated by some 'behind-the-scenes' information about the practicalities of setting up a trip like this. And finally, perhaps my greatest criticism: there are an large number of Indian nouns used, with no explanation as to what they are. For me this severely interrupted understanding and pleasure. The only Indian word list, at the beginning of the book, and not used thereafter, is of the 108 names of the Ganges and their translations. At least he does not give the alternative list of the 1000 names!
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