For many in the Western world, India holds both a special fascination, and a terror. It permeates through our modern culture; in music, food, architecture, and not least of all, its sense of spirit.

‘A Passenger through India’ uses the artifice of a ‘road trip’, for that is what it was, through Central India. It is an interplay of my own experiences along the way with India’s culture and history; idiosyncratic Australian biologist that I am. The outcome is something like ‘the Encyclopaedia Britannica meets Edgar Allen Poe, Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, Time Team, Monty Python, Mr Bean, Billy Connolly, and Bill Bryson’, with a bit of late ‘Sixties’ rock opera thrown in as a diversion from the long kilometres in between far flung destinations.

Within the pages of ‘A Passenger through India’ arise, and this is just a brief ‘sampler’, subjects as diverse as the Asiatic Lion reintroduction project, kite flying, discourses on Indian architecture and religious philosophy, Charles Dickens, ‘Gormenghast’, the ‘Indian Mutiny’, snake lore, various recipes for Indian food, public conveniences, surviving Indian highways, the plight of sari weavers, rabies, in-flight food service, how to mimic a langur monkey without trying, funeral pyres, tiger attack near-misses, ‘the Age of the One-legged cow’, bird-watching, the best season to search for poisonous reptiles, uranium sales, the efficacy of Star Trek ‘Vulcan’ language when communicating with Tibetan Buddhist monks, where not to go trekking during periods of Maoist insurgency, how to build strong cultural allegiances through the exchange of obsolete currency, …..and how I introduced ‘body surfing’ to Orissa’s Puri Beach; and returned to Australia relatively unscathed and much the better for the experience.

But whilst the blog is unashamedly a kind of ‘travel writing’, some things ‘A Passenger through India’ is not. It is not ‘safe and sweet’, it is not a ‘feel good’ travel diary, and it is not a rose-coloured expose of the exotic. It addresses all the ‘in-your-face’ realities of India that 1st-time visitors confront, yet equally it highlights the positive aspects of the subcontinent; India’s rich natural heritage, history, culture and diverse peoples. At times it holds a mirror to our face.

And ‘road trip’ though it is, ‘A Passenger through India’ is also a journey of the mind.

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