“For I have discovered that there are other rivers. And this my boys will not know for a long time nor can they be told. A great many never come to know that there are other rivers.” – John Steinbeck
There Are Other Rivers is my new book. It’s been a long time coming. There’s been a lot of sweat, tears and frustration. But I am really pleased with the final product.
I am a nervous though, as I know that a lot of people won’t like it. So, before you part with your hard-earned money that could be better spent elsewhere (on this, for example), I want to explain the book. There’s nothing more annoying than getting a 1-star review on Amazon and a comment like “This book was nothing like I thought it was going to be.“
First of all then, here’s what this book is not:
- A book about India.
- A chronological account of a coast-to-coast walk across southern India.
- An epic adventure tale.
So what is it? Primarily this book is an attempt to articulate my fascination with the open road and the magnetism of the next horizon. I hope it will strike a chord with anyone restless and yearning for a long journey. I wrote it because I spend much of my time on big trips asking myself why on Earth I am doing it. And the answer is often not particularly clear.
The days are hot, hard and repetitive. I am often lonely, thirsty and tired. Yet I keep coming back for more. What is the enduring appeal of these days that have forged my adult life? They have made me who I am, both the bad and the good. These days have created most of my strongest memories and all my best anecdotes. These are the days of clarity that I turn to when I’m looking for answers and direction in my life. And I think to myself, “one day, on the road…”
I also wanted to try to share what a day on the road is actually like. So this is a tale about a single day on my walk through India, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. I wanted to describe any day on the road, from any journey like this. It could have taken place anywhere, at any time since people began taking on these questing adventures. This is why I have removed all dates, time frames and names. Everything in this book is true. I have only re-ordered the incidents to build up my “day”. It’s a bit like Morecambe and Wise. They defended their terrible piano playing by saying they had “all the right notes, although not necessarily in the right order.”
Most travel and adventure writing focuses on the occasional extraordinary stuff that happens amongst all the humdrum ordinariness. By definition, these incidents are not how most of the time on the journey is spent. The greatest expeditions in history are nothing more than a string of single days, most of them pretty uncomfortable and mundane. Perhaps long adventures are about nothing more than mining for the extraordinary? I don’t think so. The average day on the road, the hundreds and thousands of normal days that make up the majority of my adventures, has a magnetism that draws me back time and time again. The terrible food, the sore feet, the repetitive conversations, the fungal rashes and the pummelling heat. The happiest days of my life. Any day, any journey. One day on the road.
There Are Other Rivers is on sale now