“Dedicated to all those of an adventurous spirit who are ready to risk everything to go into the unknown.”
The Road East To India is the memoir of Devika A. Rosamund, written at the time of her travels to India alone in 1976, aged just 22. In her diary she records her adventures and reflects on her personal experiences, emotions and the relationships she formed with fellow travellers and indigenous people.
Devika’s journey begins in Amsterdam where she saves money for her exciting trip. Once she has earned enough money by working relentlessly, she travels by bus as far as Iran, and then continues by local transport through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India, braving many dangers on the way. The journey to India takes six weeks, and once there she goes on to travel around the country, visiting many famous places she has only ever dreamt about before, including the Himalayas and Sri Lanka. Devika takes many risks and experiences some frightening situations on her journey which are recorded in this diary. On one occasion a hotel worker breaks into her room in the middle of the night.
Finally, after travelling up the west coast of India, Devika discovers an ashram and finds herself sat at the feet of a spiritual master, where she learns about meditation. Her spiritual journey takes a turn for the worst when the monsoon season arrives. The house where she is staying is completely flooded and consequently she becomes very sick, with doctors worried for her life. She very fortunately recovers, and is able to return to England to complete the final year of her studies. Devika concludes her memoir by saying that great adventures inevitably always include risk and danger and this is what makes it a journey of a lifetime.
The Road East To India will appeal to those who enjoy travel memoirs and are interested in what it was like for a young woman to travel alone overland to India.
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This book is a diary written in 1975 and 1976 by Devika A Rosumund about her journey to around India and Sri Lanka. At the time of writing Devika was 22 years old and after graduating from university had spent a year teaching. Since an early age she had always had a deep fascination with India and it was her ambition to go there at the first practical opportunity.
The diary begins in 1975 in Amsterdam where the author is doing a number of menial jobs trying to save money for the journey to India. At the time an inexpensive option to get there was via the famous magic bus route, a six week overland journey by bus via Turkey, Iran Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course such a journey along a similar route would be quite unthinkable today. Thus the diary can also be viewed as an interesting historical record of a time that has passed.
This diary contains interesting anecdotes of the journey on the bus including a short stay in Istanbul. However once Iran is reached a decision is made to leave the bus and continue the journey by local transport through the remainder of Iran and then Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are some interesting insights into all of these countries.
Once in India, the journey continues around the country by mainly third class railway accommodation and local buses giving the journey a real since of authenticity. Devika mainly stays in cheap hostels and hotels or occasionally with local people she has met along the way. All the main tourist sights are covered as can be expected including the Taj Mehal, the Golden Temple of Amritsar and the toy train railway in Darjeeling.
It was very unusual for a single woman to be undertaking such a journey at this time and one of the reoccurring themes of the diary is the unsolicited and unwelcome advances that she encounters from both fellow male travellers whom she teams up with at times and also certain male members of the local population.
Poverty is an omnipresent theme and so is the continual danger of falling ill on such a journey. A visit is made to the famous Missionaries of Charity motherhouse in Kolkata and there are musings on the practical applications of some of Mother Teresa's beliefs in particular her opposition to birth control.
Devika describes Sri Lanka has the enchanted island and does not want to leave there. It is compared very favourably to India. There is no indication of the conflict that would engulf the country in a bloody civil war in 1983 with an estimated 100,000.00 deaths. Perhaps that is the problem with travel you do not get a real insight into a country unless you live there for a number of years.
This is though fundamentally a spiritual journey culminating in a stay at the famous OSHO International Meditation Resort in Pune. It can be said that from this stay the author's awareness of herself changed.
I would personally recommend this book to all who are interested in travel, history and also spirituality. I certainly enjoyed the read.
by G Heard (NetGalley reviewer)
The author writes, using her diaries, about her journey to India and details her views of the countries she travels through to get there. Once at her destination, we are given an insight into life at that time, 1975 and 1976, It is a very interesting book, glimpsing life in the 70's, which in some instances is a far cry from what you would experience if the same journey was taken today. As well as learning of life at that time, we also see that this has been a personal journey of self awareness for the author. I really enjoyed taking the journey with her.
by Ann Applin
This is a fascinating, enjoyable and valuable book on so many levels. Devika's descriptions and thoughts, adventures, interactions with those she met, and her anguish, joy and personal story bring to life the lands she traveled through, how they were in the seventies, and what it was like for a 22 year old girl to take the overland journey through them to India at that time. Great reading!
by T Wellman
An excellent diary of a journey of a lifetime.
This was a wonderful account of the author's travels in 1975/76. The diary covers about a year from August 1975 to the end of August 1976. It starts from where she goes to Amsterdam to work various jobs to save up for her trip of a lifetime. The ‘Magic Bus’ ticket would cost only £60 for one way back in 1975. It would be a six week journey. She would travel through various countries: Athens, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Yugoslavia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India.
I love diary format and have read a couple of India travel diaries before-but these were both written by men. This book gives a woman's point of view of her journey. A nice easy reading concise style. Very accurate and well presented. I love the cover too.
I love details like this-she lets us know the prices per night of the various hostels and hotels-they seem incredibly cheap, just a few pence! I was fascinated by these tiny costs! Fabulous details, she really captures the complete essence of her trip. There was so much in it, an excellent read which was definitely my kind of book. This was such a good book which I just kept on reading. Every word was of interest, it never got boring or repetitive. One of the best travel diaries I've read. Black and white photos are included too.
I read it hungrily, it gave me a thirst for knowledge about this incredible place. I wonder if the author has any more travel diaries of other trips that she might release? I do hope so and I would definitely be reading them. A fantastic travel memoir which I can very highly recommend.
by Julie Haigh