Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bibliophilia: The India Ride: Two Brothers, Two Motorcycles, One Incredible Adventure – Colin & Ryan Pyle

I grabbed this book because a friend has mentioned the idea of taking his son for a trip around India when he is a bit older. He has a lot of experience in the country, but hasn’t been there in 15+ years. If the roads were nuts when he was last there, they’ve only gotten worse as more and more vehicles have piled on to the roads. He wouldn’t use motorcycles like these two brothers did, but their descriptions of their trip make me wonder about the feasibility of even an SUV. According to the Times of India, there were 196,000 deaths on India’s roads in 2012. That’s 1 in 10 road deaths in the world. Every 6th car crash in the world occurs in India. And yet, they only have 1% of all the vehicles in the world. The book is replete with descriptions of harrowing traffic conditions, and the fatalistic attitude exhibited by so many of India’s reckless drivers.

If I have a criticism of the book it’s that I wish there were a lot more photos. One of the brothers is a photo journalist and I think they should have played more to those strengths. A photo book interspersed with text. Not a book with a scant selection of photos in the middle. The idea I got is that the writing was done by someone more accustomed to writing segments for a TV production or a documentary - not necessarily writing for a book.

It’s not the greatest book ever written about traveling in a developing country, but they do a good job describing the highs and lows a trip like this involves. While an amazing journey, the frustrations experienced on the journey were not varnished over. Anyone contemplating something similar can learn a lot about the difficulties both in organizing such an undertaking, but also in actually achieving the stated goal.

And I had to tell my friend that he is nuts for contemplating this, and insisted he needs to read it for one perspective on it.

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