The book Across the Chicken Neck: Travels in Northeast India written by Nandita Haksar is a fascinating read. The author travels to different places and narrates in detail about their culture, and their past. The information given here is not available in history books that are part of our education. It is a comprehensive study of the understanding of people’s life in this region. It makes you contemplate and gives a voice to struggles of the people living in the Northeast region.
A travelogue with one of the best political writing. She uses mythology, history, sociology and anecdote to create an exhaustive portrait of Northeast India.
Travel writing is among my favorite forms of non-fiction. In the beginning, it appears to be simple but there is much depth as she progresses and you get drawn into this region which she knows so well. Her narrative is simple. Haksar was first exposed to the Northeast in 1974 when she visited as a journalist.
Nandita in her words and I quote:
This is the story of my journey, an Indian traveling through a part of the country where so many people share a citizenship but dream of different nations.”
In her chapter Through Nepal, she mentions about a place called Lumbini:
Lumbini is the birthplace of Buddha. But over the years, Lumbini had been forgotten and Maya Devi, Buddha’s mother, had been absorbed into Hindu fold. Even the name Lumbini disappeared from the memories of people. They called the village Rummindei which in time became Rupandehi.
The above is just one example of Buddhism. You come across many other descriptions about Buddhism which make this book, fascinating to read.
The book Across the Chicken Neck: Travels in Northeast India by Nandita Haksar (Unabridged, 1 Nov 2013) Hardcover is a narration of exciting, at times tiring, chilling experiences of the lone couple journey from Delhi traversing up and down the Eastern Himalayan mountains and back to Delhi.
The cover design is attractive and showcases her travel a journey in the Northeast region. There is an absence of good roadmap which is important for readers to connect with the author on her journey.