"Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit"
~ Jawaharlal Nehru

All the Gear No Idea
A Woman's Solo Motorbike Journey Around The Indian Subcontinent ~ Michele Harrison

Romola Butalia reviews Michele Harrison's book
All the Gear No Idea: A Woman's Solo Motorbike Journey Around The Indian Subcontinent
Publisher: Self published on Amazon Kindle
Price: Rs. 99       ASIN: B00QVFWRPO

Michele Harrison was an Investment manager in UK in 1997, when an inner impulse to spice up her life and give in to the wander lust, made her travel in India for almost a year, exploring the country solo on an Enfield 500cc motorcycle. The book is a travelogue that makes for interesting reading. Someone who had ridden a moped around London, comes to an unknown and mysterious country, buys an Enfield Bullet motorcycle and her maiden drive is in the traffic of Delhi before she heads into Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, the deserts of Rajasthan through Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka on to Cape Comorin - the southern extremity of the Indian subcontinent where the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean meet.

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The book is a personal experience of unusual travels in India that display an extreme sense of adventure, without being unduly conscious of it. But then awareness of adventure is always in the re-telling, rarely in living it. For one who is familiar with motor cycles and the various sub-cultures they lead to, it is delightful to read about her interactions with motorcycle mechanics, people she meets on her journeys, how she copes with diverse aspects of the country, its people, its highways and country roads . Her narrative reveals many of the joys and trials that confront the unplanned traveller and show an indomitable spirit that can overcome and enjoy the challenges that an adventurous trip throws up.

The fact that she is a British woman travelling solo through India lends its own perspective of Indian travel travails. Michele is matter-of-fact, British in her understatement, Western in her attitudes, and not always accurate with her descriptions: She says of Nathdwara - "This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna who was one of the nine (?) incarnations of Lord Vishnu, known as the Preserver, and who was himself one of the three representations of an all powerful God.. . Anyway, the thing most (?) people remember about Lord Krishna was that he was the one who cavorted with all the beautiful shepherdesses".

The book does not particularly inspire the traveller nor the philosopher in the reader, which the best travel writing most often does, but this book leaves one amused and appreciative of the rare courage it takes to be a different kind of traveller. The book does not pretend to be literature, in fact it makes no pretences of any kind. In today's age of hurried reads and lack of time to absorb, reflect and be inspired, this book is recommended for an entertaining read.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.