Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book. For self-indulgence purposes, having the Chinese name of the places pencilled in next to their phonetically transliterated English names was especially satisfying. As a constant admirer of the Seth prose, I heartily recommend this quietly unassuming travelogue to all his fans. After studying in his native India he pursued postgraduate study in England and then California, before moving on to Nanking University in China in Having embarked on an officially sponsored tour of some of Western China Seth became obsessed with the possibility of visiting Tibet, and travelling from there to Nepal and then on home to India.
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Return to Book Page. From Heaven Lake is the story of his remarkable journey and his encounters with nomadic Muslims, Chinese officials, Buddhists and others.
Get A Copy. Paperback , First Vintage Departures Edition , pages. Published November by Vintage Books first published More Details Original Title. Thomas Cook Travel Book Award Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about From Heaven Lake , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. He was at that time a student at the Nanjing University. Taking time and money off from the Standford University, Seth stays in China for 2 years. When the time comes for him to return home, he decides on a mega unconventional route. Abandoning all idea of taking a flight out of Xian or Chengdu cities other than Beijing and Shanghai that we are not familiar with.
The time is the 80s. Seth knows Chinese so well that at one point in time during the trip he had to speak it badly with effort so that people come to his aid. Unlike other travellers, Seth concentrates on the inner journey as much as the outer.
Seth writes like a song. The flow in uninterrupted and he has amazing control over his words. Each word has been chosen in keeping with what precise emotion he wants to convey. As a friend of mine says, he is a classical writer, no gimmicks.
Reading Seth is always a pleasure: like sipping iced tea in hot weather. It refreshed my city-weary mind. Salud to the delicious calm of reading Vikram Seth! Vikram Seth took nearly 2 months from China to India hitchhiking all the way across and finally giving go to temptation only in Kathmandu when he took a flight to Delhi. He passed through rural China, Tibet and Nepal.. I too travelled with him, experienced all this with him, albeit in the comfort of m Vikram Seth took nearly 2 months from China to India hitchhiking all the way across and finally giving go to temptation only in Kathmandu when he took a flight to Delhi.
I too travelled with him, experienced all this with him, albeit in the comfort of my home. I took only a week to accomplish this. Read this as a part of weekend theme in IR challenges, and am happy thst I did. It also fulfils another of my IR challenges - Armchair travel. Would recommend his book to all those who like to know about new places and are not fortunate enough to travel in person, and who don't mind slow to medium, meandering pace of the book. View 2 comments. Oct 18, Krishna Sruthi Srivalsan rated it it was amazing.
What an incredible book and an even more incredible journey! Vikram Seth, while studying at Nanjing University in China, decided to take a rather unorthodox route on his return to India during his break. His journey starts at Turfan, buried in the Uighur region of western China. And from there, he proceeds further west on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau till he reaches Lhasa, and from there onto Kathmandu and finally Delhi.
Remarkable journey, narrated with wit and humour. There are some pages where t What an incredible book and an even more incredible journey! There are some pages where the writing makes you stop and ponder. For example, he compares India and China, the two Asian giants, and how they both have succeeded and failed in their different ways. He writes about an ugly encounter with a wealthy tourist in Lhasa, and has this to say about it- It is curious how wealth makes some people pleasant, by doing away with worry and petty frustration; and how it makes others abominable.
I loved reading about his travel companions- Sui, always puffing his cigarettes and reading during his breaks, Gyanseng who would burst into a very out-of-tune song every now and then, the sulky Xiao San, and his friend Norbu whom he met at Lhasa. I really liked the fact that the book had a very objective view; not once did I detect an ounce of being judgemental or prejudiced. Qinghai, Turfan, Dunhuang, Germu, Lhasa - these are all vague places on the map, but through the book I felt as if I was visiting these very places, and learning about their people.
I especially liked reading about Seth's stay in Lhasa, where he visited the Norbulingka, the Potala Palace,and witnessed a blood curdling ceremony at the Sera monastery. Reading about how he crossed the border from Tibet into Nepal left me astounded. Just walk across the bridge over the Bhotakoshi and that's it. It made me ponder about boundaries and maps and borders and how nature disregards all of them.
The book is studded with bits of poetry, very characteristic of Seth, and this makes the book even more special. My favorite is the verse he wrote when they were stuck on the lonely Qinghai-Tibet plateau: Here we three, cooped, alone, Tibetan, Indian, Han, Against a common dawn Catch what poor sleep we can, And sleeping drag the same Sparse air into our lungs, And dreaming each of home Sleeptalk in different tongues.
Very highly recommended! Jun 08, Mohit Parikh rated it it was amazing Shelves: memoir-biography-travel-etc , india , abandoned. Excellent travelogue. Unfortunately, I had to abandon this book mid-way as the cafe I was reading it in was closed on the last day of my trip in Himachal Pradesh.
If you have an ebook, please let me know. I'd really appreciate. The poetic prose was very little. Still quite an enjoyable read for a super adventurous travelogue.
Learnt a few things about the Chinese culture, and their strict documentation requirement. Not sure if the strict guidelines are still in practice after a quarter century. If a picture could speak thousand words, then the cover speaks up for the beauty of the place. Would have been better had the inset photo plates were colored and glossy instead of black and white regular print.
This one has seeded the curiosity to read more travelogues around Tibet and explore more about Dalai Lama Sep 12, Yigal Zur rated it really liked it. Sep 11, Venkatesh Srinivasan rated it really liked it. After having lost all faith in humanity by reading A Fine Balance, I asked my boyfriend to recommend a book that would restore that faith. Begrudgingly, I started reading the book.
Moreover, these ingredients are combined in perfect quantities, and what ensues is a travelogue that flows like a clear and unperturbed mountain stream. To pull off this impressive travelogue, Seth must have been both an amazing traveler and an amazing writer.
One gets a taste of his curiosity, sense of adventure, people skills, and his knowledge of history, politics, and economics from the book. Alas, I had to settle for store-bought chamomile to quench the ensuing craving. The hand-drawn map on the book was immensely useful to the map-nerd that I am. Drafts of a few of Seth's photos would've amplified the effects of the book a hundredfold! For the less traveled, I am certain that this book would spark your wanderlust and get you packing for your next trip.
For more seasoned travelers, this book would force you ask yourself why you travel. Is it a means to accumulate more nostalgia for your own self indulgence?
Nov 29, Susan rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction. This fairly short account started me thinking about what makes a good travel book.
From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet
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From Heaven Lake