By dog, what about the river?

Dr. Sudhirendar SharmaNothing in this part of the world could be as magical as the mighty Brahmaputra, the father of all rivers in the sub-continent, an amazing labyrinth of treacherous cross-currents, whirlpools and ever shifting sandbanks. Flowing along it are lives, lifestyles and livelihoods of myriad cultures belonging to diverse religions and tribes entrenched within the ever-changing meanders of the river. The river not only gives life but it takes it away too. But no one blames the river. It is their destiny!
Tipped as the ‘last great Asian adventure’, Mark Shand’s journey on boat sweeping eighteen hundred miles through three countries could only act as a frontrunner to those (like this reviewer) planning to undertake a portion of the journey in the floodplains, from Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh to Guwahati in Assam. But it belies promise as the author invests better part of the otherwise interesting narrative in search of a ‘river dog’, and less about the river he had set out to explore.
Since the Chinese didn’t permit him to travel through the Tsangpo in Tibet, what would have been an exhilarating travel through the international border could not be accomplished. Nonetheless, the author provides edge-of-the-seat excitement in his search for one of those five hundred specially tagged logs that were thrown upstream of the river in Tibet during late nineteenth century to establish once and for all whether the Tsangpo flowed into the Brahmaputra after it disappears into the mountain gorges.
Though informative and entertaining, Shand’s travel through the mighty river in India doesn’t offer adequate tips to those who may wish to traverse this enormous water course on boat. Yet, it is perceptive travel writing that is loaded with eccentric excitement. Without doubt, the river is unique as it embraces the religions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam and nurtures hundreds of tribal beliefs along its treacherous course. At another level, it offers an amazing treatise on local, sub-regional, regional and global implications of the somewhat contentious flow of the river on communities, institutions, states and beyond. Having been on the footsteps of Mark Shand, though partially, one can safely suggest that if current trans-boundary imbroglio on harnessing its waters is any indication, there is nothing less than a status of ‘global heritage’ that can sustain its flow for future boat journeys of this kind….Link
River Dog: A Journey Down The Brahmaputra
by Mark Shand
Abacus, UK
338 pages, $16.95

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