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
I loved that this book was actually the journal of the author as she took this journey to India. This book is inspiring and thought provoking. I wish one was still able to take the journey as the author did but sadly in today's world, it would be to dangerous to do so.
by Rose Pettit
This is a unique journal written by a young English woman traveling alone across Europe and onwards to India during the 1970s. In the book, the author travels to Amsterdam, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka. If you're interested in travel and culture, then this is a must read! Devika has a special way of describing her surroundings and the local people she encounters along the way of this journey. The diary format is wonderful. It's an easy, binge-worthy read! It made me want to get out and see the world. I loved Devika's voice and the concise and beautiful writing style. Thank you so much for providing this copy to me! Definitely, I recommend it.
by Rachel Brown
Born in Kent, Devika A. Rosamund's varied life experiences have included teaching primary school children for many years, care-giving for the elderly, and extensive travel and stay in India and other countries exploring alternative world views, religions, philosophy and meditation.