Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Ask Any Old Bloke For Directions

I wanted someone to write on the book but never found any, the book is something i too wish to read and for some time had been hanging around my fantasy. Out here in Singtam, i do not find people wasting time flipping around quality books only flashy magazines rocks here. It was a sudden meeting with my former senior colleague Serah Basnet of Weekend Review days all thanks to the beautiful Facebook that she send me a link from a page published in The Hindu which might be of interest to many.

In earlier post i had shared a similar review on the very book written in one of the web page which to me wasn't a pleasing reading still i gave a try, at least some one would come up with a better review. But i believe like me they might not had gone through it or could be they did not find my post worth commenting. Out of no where i found a comment from some Anonymous. I would love to share his/her view straightly...
"i enjoyed the book immensely..but one can understand the reviewers inability to understand some aspects of the does need to have an understanding of sikkimese buddhist culture to understand and enjoy the book..however,it saddens me to find that among so many positive reviews of the book both at the national and state level..the one negative one from a debatable source finds its way in a blog which claims to be proud to be a each his own."
I really liked the one line where he/she says "one does need to have an understanding of Sikkimese Buddhist culture to understand and enjoy the book" and that was it. I find it worth sharing what Serah di commented, she said "Loved the book. Honest and funny. "It was worth every crazy minute" I spent reading it.

Here is the review i am talking around

An ‘old bloke’s’ tale


P.G. Tenzing junks a bureaucrat’s job to ride his bike across India. The result is a splendid book .

destination freedom P.G. Tenzing

This is one “old bloke” you would love to hate. Tell you why? He has done what many of us would fancy doing any day but can’t convince ourselves enough to do it finally. So, even as we end up cribbing about being caught in a never-e nding race, and how life has reduced us to mere rats, here is P.G. Tenzing, an IAS officer who dumped his cream-of-the-crop job, after 20 years, to do what he always wanted to do — get on his bike and kick off to a quirky ride across the country.

Tenzing took about a year to complete his journey. It was his way of reclaiming his freedom from the fetters of a job he “was never cut out for”. Criss-crossing through almost all the States and Union Territories, “without a pre-planned route or direction”, he traversed 25,320 kms. On the way, he encountered “numerous waiters and mechanics — fleeting human interactions and connections that seemed pre-ordained.” The 40-something, with a proud lock of unkempt hair now, calls these meetings “a way of paying off Karmic debts”, a “thamzi”. In his native Sikkim, thamzi, a Bhutia word, means ‘the sacred bond’.

All these “roadside Johnnies” now flesh out a book Tenzing has just come up with, titled “Don’t Ask Any Old Bloke For Directions”, a Penguin India publication. A 218-pager, the book is as racy and thrilling as a bike ride can be. Between the pages, he also takes umpteen pot-shots at bureaucracy and politics, pokes fun at friends and family, before screeching to a halt at the door of “freedom”. About his friends and colleagues’ reactions, he quips, “There have been some light complaints and a few abuses have been heaped on me by friends but no major fallouts. Thankfully!”

Talking about his love for biking, Tenzing, in an e-mail interview from Mangan, his home town in North Sikkim, states, “Men at some level never grow up, at least that’s the way I feel. The love for the Enfield 350 cc dates back to my college days. The bike for me represents freedom in a macho kind of way…and no, it’s not a phallic symbol for me.” Looking back at those nine months on the road, he admits, “I realised a lot of things about myself during those months and not all was flattering.”

A graduate of Delhi University, Tenzing cut through the Civil Services exam in 1986. He states his reason: “What else was there to do in those days? That was the best job around and with a little bit of raw idealism about bringing justice to the poor, a man was hooked.” In retrospect, he writes in the book, “It was a good run in the IAS till I found that I was not taking the job seriously and taking myself too seriously.” He also writes this: “One of the faults of the recruitment to the Government services in the civil sector is the lack of a psychological profile for candidates…”

Now stripped of the power of the beacon light, he says, “I never liked power…so no question of missing it.” Though writing the book “was at times the hardest thing in the world and at times the easiest…like pain and joy in equal measure”, he says, “Writing may just become a habit.” Along with him, his younger daughter, 14-year-old Dechen Pelgi Tenzing, has also turned a writer. She has penned “arguably the first Manga comics from the subcontinent, ‘Wolf’s Fang’.” The father and daughter launched their first books together at Gangtok the other day.