Paperback Sunday

1. The Way of the White Clouds: The Classic Spiritual Travelogue by One of Tibet’s

Best-known Explorers by Anagarika Govinda, paperback published by Rider & Co Books, pp 320, Rs 1,350

2. Hall of a Thousand Columns: Hindustan to Malabar with Ibn Battutah by Tim Mackintosh-Smith, paperback, published by John Murray Books, Rs 595

3. The Colour of Law by Mark Gimenez, paperback, published by Time Warner, Rs 450

4. The Planets by Dava Sobel, paperback, published by HarperCollins, pp 304, Rs 595

5. Himalaya by Michael Palin, paperback, published by Phonix Books, pp 350, Rs 695

What the books are about

The Way of the White Clouds:

‘It tells of terrible journeys, of men masked against the sun (riding through ethereal regions with their feet frozen), of welcoming fog-girt monasteries lit by butter lamps at the journey’s end’ — New Statesman. The Way of the White Clouds is the remarkable narrative of a pilgrimage which could not be made today. Lama Anagarika Govinda was among the last to journey through Tibet before its invasion by the Chinese. His unique account is not only a spectacular and gloriously poetic story of exploration and discovery, it is also invaluable for its sensitive and clearly presented interpretation of the Tibetan tradition. ‘Why is it that the fate of Tibet has found such a deep echo in the world? There can only be one answer: Tibet has become the symbol of all that present-day humanity is longing for’ — Lama Anagarika Govinda.

Hall of a Thousand Columns:

All the best armchair travellers are sceptics. Those of the fourteenth century were no exception: for them, there were lies, damned lies, and Ibn Battutah’s India. Born in 1304, Ibn Battutah left Tangier as a scholar of law; over the course of 30 years, he visited most of the known world between Morocco and China. Here Mackintosh-Smith retraces one leg of the Moroccan’s journey — the dizzy ladders and terrifying snakes of his Indian career as a judge and a hermit, courtier and prisoner, ambassador and castaway. From the plains of Hindustan to the plateaus of the Deccan and the lost ports of Malabar, the author reveals an India far off the beaten path of Taj and Raj. Ibn Battutah left India on a snake, stripped to his underpants by pirates, but he took away a treasure of tales as rich as any in the history of travel. Back home they said the treasure was a fake. Mackintosh-Smith proves the sceptics wrong. India is a jewel in the turban of the Prince of Travellers. Here it is, glittering, grotesque but genuine, a fitting ornament for his 700th birthday.

The Colour of Law:

A Scott Fenney is a hotshot corporate lawyer at a big Dallas firm. At 33, in the prime of his life, he rakes in $750,000 a year, drives a Ferrari and comes home every night to a mansion in Dallas’ most exclusive neighbourhood. He also comes home to one of Dallas’ most beautiful women, with whom he has a much-loved daughter, Boo. For Fenney, life could not be better. But when a senator’s son is killed in a hit-and-run, Fenney is asked by the state judge to put his air-conditioned lifestyle on hold to defend the accused: a black, heroin-addicted prostitute — a very different client to the people Fenney usually represents. And, more importantly, she is not going be paying Ford Stevens $350 an hour for the privilege of his services. Under fire from all sides, Fenney drafts in a public defender to take the case on. Yet as Scott prepares to hand over to Bobby, he feels increasingly guilty about the path he is taking...

The Planets:

Dava Sobel tells the human story of the nine planets of our solar system. This groundbreaking new work traces the ‘lives’ of each member of our solar family, from myth and history, astrology and science fiction, to the latest data from the modern era’s robotic space probes. Whether revealing what hides behind Venus’ cocoon of acid clouds, describing Neptune’s complex beauty, or capturing first-hand the excitement at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory when the first pictures from Cassini at Saturn were recently beamed to earth, Sobel’s unique tour of the solar system is filled with fascination and beauty. In lyrical prose interspersed with poems by Tennyson, Blake and others, The Planets gives a breathtaking, intimate view of heavenly bodies that have captured imagination since humanity’s first glimpse of the glittering night skies.

Himalaya:

Having risen to the challenge of seas, poles, dhows and deserts, the highest mountains in the world were a natural target for Michael Palin. In a journey rarely, if ever, attempted before, in six months of hard travelling Palin takes on the full length of the Himalaya including the Khyber Pass, the hidden valleys of Hindu Kush, ancient cities like Peshawar and Lahore, K2, Annapurna and Everest, the gorges of Yangtze... Facing altitudes as high as 17,500 feet and some of the world’s deepest gorges, Palin also passed through political flashpoints like Pakistan’s remote north-west frontier, terrorist-torn Kashmir and the mountains of Nagaland, only recently open to visitors. Palin is a fantastic writer and the text reads beautifully, making this a perfect read for the armchair traveller.

Information courtesy: UNITED BOOKS, Ganesh Man Singh building, Northfield Cafe ph: 4229 512; Bluebird stores in Lazimpat & Tripureshwore, ph: 4245 726; Momo’s and More, Old Baneshwor; Himalayan Java; Saturday Cafe, Bouddha; Namaste Supermarket in Pulchowk, ph: 5525 017