This book is a beautiful capture of tastes of adventure, emotions, the rawness of life, challenges and hard strikes of reality. It can totally stir up the adventurous element that each of us has somewhere in our souls.


It captures the life of van Gujjars and various aspects of it while the writer travels with the family of “Dumman” (a van Gujar) on their summer migration trip of 40 days from the foothills of lower Shivalik’s to the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. How the Van Gujjars live a simple yet extremely fulfilling life is the keystone of the book. Van Gujjars treat their herd of water buffaloes like family, the man-animal relationship of affection, care and pure connection leaves our hearts melted and feeling full. Recently the conservationist policies of the government have put major threats to the lifestyle and forest rights of the Gujjar community. I am glad that the author has openly discussed these issues which is the originality of thought of the situation.


While reading the book, I was transported mentally to a van Gujar camp. I felt myself to be walking on the same trail with them and that is how powerfully Mr. Benanav has captured his imagination. The details of migration, relishing the morning Himalayan treks, breathtaking dusk and dawns, the taste of freshly collected milk, sitting by the fire in a rainstorm under a tarpaulin sheet, and much more.


The book has a subtle freshness to it that leaves you feeling something different every time you pick up to read a few pages. Michael has written it simply and straight from the heart.


Simultaneously it’s much more than an adventurous treat. The book also raises some of the following questions that leave us pondering-

  1. Are the luxuries of the modern world truly a luxury for life?
  2. What place do we have as modern societies for distinct cultures?
  3. Nature conservation: what is the right approach?

And above all, it makes us rethink our value system and benchmarks of a successful life.

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Shristi Hooda

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