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Dreaming of Everest: A rare find in the trekking books genre
By Venkat Ganesh Gudipaty
Let’s be honest. There are very few books written on trekking in the Himalayas.
There are numerous guidebooks of course. Accounts of mountaineering expeditions too are plenty.
Michael Palin’s Himalaya is definitely one of my favourites which isn’t about mountaineering. But I’ll not put it in the trekking genre either.
There’s also an abundance of books (and films) on “thru-hiking” long distance trails in the west like PCT, AT, Santiago De Compostela, Te Araroa.
But personal travel narratives of trekking in the Himalayas are rare. The last I read was The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
Therefore when I got my hands on Saachi Dhillon’s Dreaming of Everest, I was excited.
Firstly, because like many of us at the office, she’s an adventurer and a traveller having visited over 22 countries.
Secondly, because she works for National Geographic Channel, and that kind of exposure comes rarely.
And finally, because she’s trekked with Indiahikes and she sent the book over. It’s always nice to have trekkers staying in touch and knowing what they’re up to.
What we liked about Dreaming of Everest?
Shachi takes her reader through her epic journey to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world.
Her descriptive writing, anecdotes, warmth, humour and personal revelations that she shares with such openness and honesty, you find thinking of yourself as her fellow trekker.
But mind you the journey is not an easy one. Right at the beginning of her journey where the weather plays a spoilsport to the toilet troubles at tea houses on the way to dragging her exhausted self on the final leg to the basecamp her journey is full of challenges.
And though she had limited experience, her efforts, her motivation and her accomplishment inspire you to embark on a similar journey of your own.
And this is where the book excels. When you read books on trekking, you not only want to be transported to that world in imagination but by the end left with a desire to go and experience the journey for yourself.
What would we have liked even more?
If I have a complaint about the book, it is only that I wish that she shared her personal revelations a bit more deeply.
As someone who has been a witness to the magical power of the treks to change perspectives as well as reinforce deeply held beliefs thus propelling you forward in life I would've liked to know about the impact the trek had on the author.
That’s what has always left me fulfilled on treks when I have seen trekkers going through and overwhelming emotions on a trek.
And felt the same when I read books like Walk in the Woods, Wild, Becoming Odyssa
Frankly speaking there is quite a bit of cynicism with regards to Everest.
Mountaineering purists look down upon guided summitters who depend on a lot of external help on their push to the Everest summit.
While hardcore hikers lament over the commercialization of the trail to the Everest basecamp.
But Dreaming of Everest focusses on choosing on the positives and how an enriching experience a trek like this could be.
It is the perfect adventure to go on if you have a couple of hours on a lazy afternoon.
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