Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

A well-known Austrian Olympian is on an expedition to conquer Nanga Parbat when World War II breaks out. Immediately interned by the British at one of the war camps. An unconquerable urge to break out. A 6000 km hike through some of the harshest terrain on earth to arrive at the holiest city of Tibet. Unexpected hospitality, unwelcome challenges and the enviable position of rising to be one of the closest confidantes of the Living God, the Dalai Lama. This is the stuff legends are made of.
All this and more is what makes Heinrich Harrer and his 'seven years in Tibet' a masterpiece!
Part 1 (this is what I like to call it) traces his journey from the camp at Dehra-dun through the harsh and inhospitable terrain, often underplaying the challenges, helplessness and loneliness with stunning details on the majestic mountains and quaint life of rural Tibet.
Part 2 (as I like to call it) is the journey from being a pauper living on the goodwill and hospitality of the warm Tibetan people to a confidant of the Living God.
Heinrich uses his skills and resourcefulness to find acceptance in a society that has been largely unaffected by the rest of the world. In the process of finding acceptance and living in a society whose rich past and cultural heritage was largely unknown to the rest of the world, he gains amazing insights into the Tibetan culture and narrates a first-hand experience of the ways of the Tibetan society. He explores in depth, the pivotal role that religion plays in all aspects of Tibetan life, be it society or government. From being a gardener to building a cinema hall for the Dalai Lama, he quickly becomes Dalai Lama's trusted confidante, a position which gives him (and us) a ring-side view of the life of Tibet and its people.
A must read!

No comments: