The Anatomy of Journey by Rohit Karthik Nalluri might be considered a spiritual travel memoir in that there is an actual journey, but also a spiritual journey takes place as the author moves to a place of greater awareness.
However, where it has potential as a travel memoir this reader found the metaphysical part of the story self-indulgent and unenlightening. Most of the author’s inner journey had little or nothing to with the actual journey – he didn’t grow spiritually as a result of events that took place on the motorcycle trip, and so there was a disconnect.
The story is about four young Indian men that undertake an eleven hundred kilometers journey on motorcycles from Delhi to Leh in the district of Ladakh in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Here’s how the author describes it:
“For the intrepid biker, the ride … is a litmus test, a test of strength, skill and stamina” that encounters twisting and unforgiving mountain roads that cross many bridges over mighty rivers… This arduous journey is compounded by the altitude itself, as the increased height decreases the oxygen content in the atmosphere, making it difficult to breathe and to think. That there is no electricity, no cellular network, no place to stay overnight except in thread-bare tents and no gas stations for a distance of 365 kilometers. The very word 'ladakh' translates to 'land of the mountain passes', and to reach Leh one must cross five of them, some over seventeen thousand feet above sea level.”
There is some beautifully written descriptive passages and some remarkable insights into the nature of traveling - how the journey becomes a thing onto itself and how it effects the traveler.
However, much of the experiences seemed repetitious and many of the insights became self-indulgent ramblings, particularly near the end when the author attempts to convey an experience of spiritual enlightenment.
Though there is some inspired writing the overall memoir could have used more craft. If the author had structured it with a sense of rising tension leading to a climax the story would have had more appeal. As it was I got the sense it followed chronologically – an exciting event followed by two boring ones rather than one exciting event building on another.
What I found fascinating were the glimpses of modern Indian and how ancient customs and traditions lived side by side, if not hand in hand, with modern society.
Perhaps if the author would have reflected more on this and less on his spiritual quest the story would have had more appeal.
I received this book free from Smashwords as part of my commitment to review the works of new, self-published authors.
(review of free book)