While the snow was on the ground last week, I finished the book on the history of Google. I then started a book by a National Geographic writer Tim Brookes’ travel to India. It is a striking contrast to the tightly compact, densely factoid style of Auletta that has to be slowly digested for the impact to sink it. Since I only got inside the walls of the Geographic fortress once for a polite but perfunctory interview, I am jealous of Brookes’ carte blanche expense account, but then he has written for many other travel magazines, has been a commentator on NRP, and has written several other books so I suppose he deserves that treatment. He writes with a sardonic, but not cruel sarcasm that is both witty and amusing. You just sorta go with the flow as though it is a stream of consciousness wrapped in a dream.
Two of my friends just recently returned from trips to India so I have some comparisons by which to judge his adventures. One was ectastic about the trip, but then he has loved everything Indian for years. The other is a jaded world traveler who has been everywhere and was less enthusiastic. Of course the Victorians were enamoured with their colony on the subcontinent and all of the exotic spices, silks, and specimens that were shipped to the mother country by dutiful public servants.
Somehow I’ve just never been very interested in going to India. Perhaps it is the dire poverty or the blinding heat or the fact that I find the food indigestible. I guess I’m just too plebian or too old and too escounced in my comfortable lair to be intrigued by the exotic and totally foreign culture of India. I’m much more interested in a trip to Russia or Egypt, which I hope to arrange some day.
What is most interesting about the book is the fact that he has chosen to publish with a local New Hampshire publisher, and I actually ordered the book from a local bookstore after I got acquainted with Tim on LinkedIn. To give away his secrets, the title of the book Thirty Percent Chance of Enlightenment is a parody on the weather forecaster’s “chance of rain” and the hippies search in India for “enlightenment.” It is available from the web site: http://www.thirtypercentchance.com