Her beloved Himalayan mountains are being ravaged by bad roads and unregulated urbanisation, and with climate change the mountains are more vulnerable than ever before.
The book is a tribute to the Himalaya, and the 46 explorers (all European, except one Japanese) who were moved by the mountains to write in awe about them. The excerpts from 19th and 20th century are by ‘missionaries, mountaineers, mystics and mercenaries’. The earliest writing is by the Tuscan Jesuit Ippolito Desideri, whose account of his journey to Lhasa in 1716 is included in the book because it was published in 1904.
For those overwhelmed by the available literature on the mountaineering, culture and history of the Himalaya (or don’t have the budget to buy all the books) Mountain Bound is a useful primer. You get a glimpse of the adventures of people like William Kirkpatrick, George Mallory, Peter Matthiessen, Edmund Hillary, George Schaller, or Christopoh von Fürer-Haimendorf, so that you can always go and buy their books if you liked what you read. There is a useful glossary of the source books at the end.
Lucia de Vries has slipped in one of her own writings (The Winds of Chait) to the anthology, which is a haunting profile of a Dalit Maoist guerrilla, Chandra, who was killed by the Army in an unnamed village in Central Nepal. It is one of the most nuanced reportage of the Maoist conflict by a western journalist, and peels off the layers of caste, class, social injustice, state neglect and violence that lay at the root of the conflict.
This last paragraph from the chapter is a lyrical portrait of the Nepali landscape during the war years: ‘Walking the trail towards the village, Chandra must have looked up at the mud houses, huddled together like sleeping dogs. His eyes must have trailed along the ridge … to the flowering fruit trees of his ancestral home. He must have noticed the freshly ploughed fields, rich golden brown, waiting for a new life.’
Nepalis on the plateau, Mark Turin and Sara Shneiderman