Book Review: The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers
This travel memoir details one man’s adventures in the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya in north east India. This is a rainy land of dense jungles, waterfalls and where many ancient living bridges can be found. These living bridges have been grown from the roots of trees and bound and manipulated by the ancestors of those who currently live there to provide crossing places during the rainy season floods and over deep ravines.
The adventurer is a tall, white American male who describes with humour his map-less trekking, his funny encounters with village children and his documenting of the tree bridges in the area, some of which he didn’t know existed. His descriptions of the lush valleys and almost impassable canyons are vivid and filled with a sense of wonder.
Patrick Rogers also brings to life the colourful characters he meets along the way and the history of the disparate people who inhabit that part of India. It’s interesting to learn about the languages and different cultures as well as the influence of the west, including the obsession with WWE and wrestlemania. The author also details some of the local spirits and myths, as well as religious practices and food.
The tree bridges are the area’s living, growing, evolving infrastructure and are equally as fascinating as the culture and people. It’s interesting to learn about these bridges as being ‘exceptional because they are among the world’s exceedingly few examples of architecture which is simultaneously functional and alive’.
This was a quick read, but was charming and absorbing. It made me want to go trekking in jungles! And taught me something new about living architecture and a part of the world that I’d never before heard about. The text is peppered throughout with photos taken by the author, which help to bring the landscape to life.
My copy of the book didn’t have it’s final front cover, you can check it out here:
My rating: 4/5
Goodreads | Author website
* I received a free review copy of this book from the author
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