A Postmodern Collage Of Nature’s Bounty
Shuby Abidi
DARAKTE HIMALAYA PAR DAR-BA-DAR by Ajoy Sodani Rajkamal Prakashan, 2018, 345 pp., 510
October 2019, volume 43, No 10

You may not be able to pick up any other genre after reading this brilliant specimen of travelogue, Darakte Himalaya par Dar-ba-Dar (2018) published by Rajkamal Prakashan. It sparks the curiosity to know more about the most prototypical postmodernist genre of travel writing. This perfectly titled travelogue by Ajoy Sodani is his second book on the Himalaya Yatra Series. An eminent neurologist and a traveller, Sodani’s wanderlust gravitates him towards the Himalayas every time. His travels have been recorded twice in the Limca Book of Records. Rich in experience, he has given expression to his adventures in the form of poetry, essays, pictures, and stories that have been widely published. The travelogue is a two hundred-page nail-biting account of the Uttarakhand Himalaya taken up in the dangerous monsoon months of July, August. The book, divided into fourteen chapters, deals with the uphill journey from Jhala to Kyarkoti, further to Dhoomdari Darra, Arjun Jhari, and Sankri covering all aspects of Himalayan trekking.

Besides exploring the challenging and unknown terrains of the Himalayas, Sodani unravels the perceptive individual in him with his keen eye for the vices that grip the society—be it fading patriotism, breakdown of personal communication giving place to ‘WhatsApping’, deforestation, blind scientific and technological advancement spoiling the beauty of nature in all its aspects. The author confesses, ‘sadakon se mujhe koi bair nahi par pagdandiyon se vishesh prem avashya hai’ (I have no enmity towards roads but I certainly have a special love for the footpaths). He laments the robbing of Mother Earth by technology. Posing this question, the author asks: ‘Apni izzat lutne ka rona bechari vasundhara kis dhyodi par jakar roye?’(p.5) (At whose doorstep is poor Mother Earth to go and lament about the anguish at losing her honour?) and warns the readers ‘tum jaante ho ki aise sthano se hamara guzarna bhi yahan ke paryavaran me badlaav lata hai…sadko ke sahare yadi hum yaha sama gaye to sab nestonabud ho jaega…swarthandho’ (p. 61). (Do you know that even our passing through these places brings about a change in the environment…if we were to settle down here with the help of roads, then everything will be ruined…  you, blinded by selfishness)

The author’s passionate admiration for nature leads him on a quest for the Brahmakamal, the rare Himalayan flower found at the height of 18,200 feet—Ajoy Sodani’s Holy Grail. The book is replete with breathtakingly beautiful descriptions of picturesque scenes from nature accompanied by handsome photographs and illustrations. The overwhelming beauty of the Brahmakamal inspires the author to express his emotions poetically:

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