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by Eric Newby

On his 44th birthday, Eric Newby sets out on an incredible journey: to travel the 1,200-mile length of India's holy river. In a misguided attempt to keep him out of trouble, Wanda, his wife, is to be his fellow boatwoman. This book documents their experience.
Download Slowly Down the Ganges epub
ISBN: 0007367880
ISBN13: 978-0007367887
Category: Literature
Subcategory: History & Criticism
Author: Eric Newby
Language: English
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; UK ed. edition (January 1, 2011)
Pages: 400 pages
ePUB size: 1129 kb
FB2 size: 1157 kb
Rating: 4.2
Votes: 143
Other Formats: lit lrf lrf lrf

A journal, in often repetitive detail, of the difficulties of boating down the Ganges from its source to its mouth. Instructive about Indian character(s) in the 1960's, but not as funny as the cover blurb promises.
This is yet another great travel narrative from an excellent writer, and, once again, Eric is accompanied by the indomitable (even by India and its casual and common berr-berri) Wanda, his wife and fellow adventurer. It turned out to be a very slow journey indeed, fraught with those difficulties that only India can create - but that just gives us, the readers, even more details, stories and evocative descriptions to enjoy - in fact you can find yourself wishing it slower. The idea was considered easy and enjoyable by the then Prime Minister, Gandhi - who armed Eric with a letter of commendation that did not much help - as it was the Ganges itself, that was the problem, a river without much water for the first 100 miles. They ran aground 63 times in the first six days and, frustrated, turned to train to bullock cart, bus, hiking, portage and back to boat again.
Eric's `motive' for returning yet again to India is his simple like for the country and its people from his time as a "very junior" officer in the British Army - he never was an elite, plundering member of the Raj. One lyrical chapter covers their visit to Eric's old Army Post, now an Indian Army centre with the original mess hung with the records of two Sepoy who won the VC (Victoria Cross for Extreme Bravery) and a letter, rightly framed and accorded a honored placing, from another who, despite being a Prisoner of War in Germany writes back to his Battalion and requests that seven Rupees a month be stopped from his accumulating pay and donated to the International Red Cross.
Far from reflecting condescending attitudes or trashing the endlessly varied and fantastic cults of Indian religions and their sometimes bizarre rituals, Eric finds time to see, hear, record, and appreciate it all, and finds everything fascinating. Thankfully, when he does start to get a little too detailed about these extraordinary Kings that are a mile high and fight battles lasting a thousand years, we can rely on Wanda to add some pithy comment.
Rather than reflecting the perhaps expected 1980 Euro-Christian viewpoint, Eric contrasts one modern Indian mall, with its up-market restaurants, US Baptists Church and vendors of Christmas Cards and Scotch with the narrow lanes of the old `native city' where "here the atmosphere was friendly and there was an air of excitement and animation lacking in the European part".
How this talented pair of travelers manage to counter the frustrations and infuriations of India that I experienced I can only wonder at, admire and applaud and I look forward to reading more accounts of their ever-readable journeys together.
A tedious read! Too many "hindu" words, names of shrines and monuments. But, overall, I enjoy this kind of reading so I will "plod through", maybe giving up at some point.
Bought it after I read Larry McMurtry reads it every few years. Slowly is in there
for a reason. But well written and an interesting author to say the least. Study up on
the author before diving into the book. No hurry.
very funny
Seldom has a traveler kept a tighter, neater, closer log of every sight, scent and sound along a journey. He includes the rejoicing, the disgusting, the revealing; he is perceptive, descriptive and reiterative; he is fanciful and fondling and famished and fascinating. He is a detour, and perhaps a distant cousin, of the Slumdog. This text is a crash course in travel writing, covers a people and their landscape and even his personal dissentions with his wife. He is funny, flamboyant, absolutely obsessive and thoroughly enjoyable.
You feel this historic ride as if you were there via Mr. Newby by your side.
Newby at his best. Great stuff ! A man who loved adventure.