A review on Veena’s travel book from Europe to India.
Travelling out of sheer wanderlust during the early seventies was not yet commonplace, in particular not for young women who were resolute about heading East! Except for some hippies who had already made a narrow inroad, all travels beyond Greece and Turkey at the time were truly adventures as there were hardly any guidebooks to rely on and typically little money to disburse. Communications with family or friends were difficult; letters took weeks to reach and phone calls were expensive; so-called trunk calls could take hours to be patched through – and then more often than not the line would fall.
Veena is one of the courageous young women at that time who is determined to get to India traveling light (in comes the backpack) and in spite of feeling a tad apprehensive setting out on her own, barely sitting on the train from London to Istanbul she already befriends a fellow traveler and – merely one day later – they are a group of five, and eventually, six.
Stories upon stories begin to flow the moment they reach the border to Bulgaria. The reader feels whisked along as part of the group, exploring Istanbul for example, and with some situations unfolding in Iran that could have had pretty dire outcomes, while so many others are hilarious and entertaining. There is an underlying camaraderie among this group, yet at the same time they don’t necessarily do everything together. The descriptions of famous landmarks are vivid and exhaustive and the imagery and adventures in Afghanistan show her love for that country, with a very special account about seeing the Bamiyan Buddhas standing in their full splendor.
Almost reluctantly she pulls herself out of Afghanistan and travels via Pakistan to India, her golden destination; having to walk on foot for about six miles along a path through no-man’s land before being able to catch a bus to Amritsar is another unexpected adventure and she is relieved when she finally reaches Delhi for a short respite.
Moving on to take in the sights of Agra and the Taj Mahal and on to Kajuraho, her lively narrative tells of the hardship of reaching Varanasi by bus and train. She is enchanted by the city of life and death and she makes it her home for a little while before visiting Kathmandu in Nepal. From there she returns to Delhi and then heads to Goa.
Typically throughout the journey there are situations where she must rely on the help of total strangers; there are illnesses to cope with, some rather dicey situations to be solved and yet, above all there is the stirring exoticness of fascinating impressions throughout the journey, relishing the atmosphere of adventure in uncharted territory that brings about deep changes within her.
It is a joyful and splendid ride on a truly vanished road being brought back to life and I am eager to read all about the next leg of her journey which will hopefully carry on from the little paradise and reprieve she finds in Goa!
Bhagawati, Osho News – new book cover replaced March 2015
Read an excerpt from A Vanished Road: Herat, Afghanistan
Details can be found on Veena’s website: 3books.co.uk/buy
Reviews of Veena’s trilogy
Veena met Osho in Mumbai in 1971 and took sannyas shortly thereafter. At his request she opened the Nirvana Meditation Centre in London in 1972. During the years she spent with him she worked as an editor of his books, as a seamstress making his robes, hats and the costumes for photo sessions and doing PR in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. She has written about Osho for many sannyas publications and also published a book about him. 3books.com