The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills

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Title:The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills

Writer: Patrick Rogers

Publishing House: Westland

Date of Publication:  September 18th 2017

Rating: 5 stars

“Closer together,tiny groups of twinkling lights, glowing like star clusters,appeared as night fell.Dozens of villages seemed to hang in the moonlight itself.I didn’t know their names but like Riwar, and like Katarshnong,I knew that each one was its own world, with its own history and myths,own its own joys and sorrows, its own heroes and villains.They looked like such little places, yet no one person knew everything they contained.”

India. The mention of the name brings to mind countless pictures. Colourful, mysterious, sacred and strange. One of the countries that have always fascinated me . Its mysticism, the wealth of myths and legends, the weirdly haunting combination of different religions. In this beautiful book by Patrick Roger, we are transported to a different part of the country, to a corner of the Earth that is not well-known but hides immense natural and cultural beauty.

Patrick travelled to the northeast state of Meghalaya, in search of the living root bridges, a natural wonder that remains relatively obscure, fighting for the future of its existence. He takes the readers on a fascinating journey that doesn’t only aim to familiarize us with this wonderful creation of nature but most importantly, he is our guide to the communities, the people, their beliefs, customs and behaviour amidst this unknown part of our planet.There is a vast richness in this book and a tranquil beauty in Patrick’s writing. From the rich descriptions of the Khasi hills to the influence of old beliefs in the daily life of the residents. The food, the “invasion” of the Western world into their houses through television, the rain, the hospitality and the differences between the people who have kept to their pagan past and the ones who have converted to Christianity. There is not one aspect of life that is left neglected and we come to know the region as best as we possibly can without visiting it.

Patrick Rogers writes in a direct, eloquent, extremely engaging manner. Calm and composed when describing the dangers he faced and certain unfortunate incidents and with the right amount of humour and always appropriate to the circumstances. I was particularly drawn to the amusing “kwai” chapter and, naturally, to the section dedicated to the supernatural beliefs of the people. Some of these myths were almost funny and others were eerie and terrifying.The description of the night when the different name songs were heard is a moment of incredible, tranquil beauty. It transported me there immediately as did the beautiful, vivid pictures that enrich each chapter.

This book isn’t just a travel memoir. It is an homage to the beauty of nature, to the diversity of the people, the variety of convictions and customs. And it is also a warning bell for the preservation of the natural wonders.

Many thanks to Patrick Rogers for the opportunity to experience a tiny proportion of his fascinating journey to a land full of mystery and wonders.

“From the village issued the sound of many female voices singing out into the evening a sweet medley that drifted softly over into the heart of the Khasi hills.To this, from every direction, came answering songs from husbands,fathers, and sons singing back different tenderly composed songs to their loved ones.”

 

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