Good Reading : November 2005
NOVEMBER 2005 ı goodreading 47 Inside Himalaya: a journey across the top of the world, photographs by Basil Pao, foreword by Michael Palin, is published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson, rrp $79.95 The son of a merchant of fragrances with his father’s spring collection, Peshawar, Pakistan. Two boys with Lhakarp (White God) masks share a drink in a quiet moment during the epic Dance of the Judgement of the Dead, a religious dance of Tibetan Buddhism. To most of us the Himalaya is just a ‘smudge of crumply contours on a map’ or the com- manding presence of Everest or Annapurna on a calendar or in a magazine. We cannot comprehend, unless we have been there, that the entire length of the Himalaya stretches over 1500 miles (2400 km), taking in such countries as China, India, Tibet, Kashmir, Bhutan and Nepal. It is in fact ‘the greatest concentration of vertical surfaces on the planet’. Popular television presenter Michael Palin, his film crew and photographer Basil Pao travelled from the legendary Khyber Pass on the Pakistan–Afghanistan border to the Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh, a journey of 3000 miles (5000 km) that took them six months. The result is this magnificent book, show- casing more than three hun- dred of Basil Pao’s best images. Penetrating remote areas and often putting themselves in uncomfortable situations, they were able to film and photo- graph not only the awe-inspir- ing beauty of the mountains but also the people who live and work there, virtually cut off from the rest of the world. Linger over the photo- graphs, read the foreword and postscript and be moved. Shimla was the summer capital of India during the British Raj. Today, it is a university town. These college students are not hiding from the camera, but simply protecting their faces from the fierce Himalayan sun.
December January 2006