Think of a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. For the British, it was once a land of Hope and Glory, but over the eighty years of Pramila le Hunte’s absorbing autobiography, I Take the Road to Everest, the grandeur fizzled out and sadly, the country ended up as a land of hope for glory.
Pramila was ambitious right from the start; when Hillary and Tiger Tenzing conquered Everest and she felt the whole world was on offer. So, she took the high road to Everest with falling rocks and potholes on the way. Her marriage to an Englishman should have born the imprint of a global woman ready for the democracy of today, but that was nothing short of wishful thinking. Her childhood hero was Mahatma Gandhi and she thought she would be able to see someone like him walk the streets today. When India reached Independence, Nehru made a promise, at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. But that is not the way it turned out. The departing Britishers may have flown but they left their feathers in the nest with social differentiation creating two societies, one for the rich and one for the poor. Despite this and a failing marriage, Pramila never allowed herself to be submerged and with determination marched on to Everest.
The rowdy teenager found peace at last when she realises, shucks to the world; the world lives in your heart. And at the heart of it all, this is a journey of a young woman finding a path through the tumult of two centuries.