Patrick Rogers is a Trekker. A traveler, hiker, adventurer of a hidden and little known area of Northeastern India. The Khasi Hills are part of the Garo-Khasi range in the Indian state of Meghalaya, and is part of the Patkai range and of the Meghalaya subtropical forests eco region. Yes, it is a bit off the beaten path. The author of this book on the region shares with us his adventures and interactions with the people, their culture and language as he treks deeper into the region in search of its living root bridges.
Rodgers, the author of The Green Unknown: Travels In The Khasi Hills starts of with a disclaimer, claiming for himself the title of a “semi-professional wandering eccentric.” He also admits that he is no expert and that “reading (his book) might feel like heading up a cultural creek without a paddle.” And he is correct. The book is a literal feast of experiences written much like a narrative diary. It is enjoyable and educational. A social anthropological buffet of sorts. You will see and hear of interesting characters named John Cena and Morningglory (yes one word). It seems folks are named for anything interesting or perceived interesting. A person may be named Panty or Brassiere (man or woman) because the villagers parents thought it sounded interesting having no clue to its meaning in English.
In all, this is a nature walk to end all nature walks. The region is a majestic punch of deep valleys, plunging waterfalls, monsoon rains and ancient root bridges. The natural and living phenomenon are best described just as their name indicates. Bridges that are alive, nurtured over decades from the roots of trees into walking paths to help ferry the regions people across gorges and swelling rivers. The citizens of the region live in far off mountainside villages, many so secluded each has its own dialect. The author does include us in his attempts at dialogue in each village. One scene in with he attempts to understand why a chicken, dead and covered in soot is stuck in a roof thatch is quite amusing.
The authors walk carry him, “hill by hill, valley by valley” into the homes of each village that welcomes the Phareng (foreigner) and feeds him more than he could possibly ever need. At each village he attempts to ascertain the locations and information of any root bridges in the area. I have included some pictures of these Root Bridges from the website inhabitat.com. The author includes some in his book as well, but as it is a digital copy and not conducive to pull directly from it, so I felt this would do just as well. My only beef about this work is its abrupt ending. I wanted to know just how it all ends. The last most discomforting trek Mr.Rogers made with his companions. So it is a literal cliffhanger. This may not be a perfectly written book, but that is explained by the author, “…I think the rugged, cluttered, truth of things is just more interesting.” I am glad to have had the opportunity to gain previously unknown knowledge of a relatively unknown place. It was entertaining. It is a short 170 pages. If you enjoy travelogues and discovering, or nature and ecology. This just may the book for you.
Photo sources and more information on Patrick Rogers: https://inhabitat.com/interview-how-one-man-is-fighting-to-save-the-worlds-last-living-root-bridges/
This title is currently available on Amazon for Kindle for $0.99.
for more information on The authors Root Bridge Project visit: https://livingrootbridges.com/
I would like thank the author for the opportunity to read his work in exchange for my honest review. I will be looking forward to reading his next adventure in the Kahshi hills very soon.