Around the World in 80 Books 3

India - Kim by Rudyard Kipling

“We were travelling to Delhi that day and most of our journey followed the Amritsar to Kolkuta road, which was two thousand miles and the longest highway in India. The original road had been built by Sher Shah Suri, who had ruled most of northern India during the sixteenth century, to link the remoter areas of his vast empire. The road was called the Sadak-e-Azam or ‘great road’. The British later extended and improved it and re-named it the Great Trunk Road and it continued to serve as the main artery for travel across Northern India. After Independence, although it was given its original name again, it was still referred to as the Great Trunk Road or the GT. According to Rudyard Kipling in Kim the road was ‘such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world’, a description with which I could readily concur.”

Quote from My India by Valery Collins

I loved reading the story of the vagabond Kim caught between his role as a spy for the British secret service and his desire to help his friend, an aged Tibetan Lama, find the legendary ‘River of the Arrow’. This wonderfully descriptive story takes us through India experiencing the sights and sounds of this extraordinary country. It leaves us wondering if Kim finally chooses espionage or a spiritual life.

I found the roads in India a source of amazement and amusement. In the countryside local public transport was provided by a tractor pulling a trailer into which the local people would cram themselves. In the cities sleek modern cars jostled for position with bicycles, bicycle rickshaws, motorbikes and hand pulled carts.

Traffic jams are a frequent occurrence but for me it was another opportunity to observe the ingenuity of the locals in getting themselves and their property from one place to another. I was able to experience the bicycle rickshaw in Delhi and the pony and carts of Jaipur and also being a pedestrian and threading my way through traffic that never stops for anyone.

Author: Valery Collins, © 2014