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Chasing the Monsoon: A Modern Pilgrimage Through India

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0330433136
ISBN-10: 033043313X
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Alexander Frater has contributed to various UK publications and, as chief travel correspondent of the Observer, he won an unprecedented number of British Press Travel Awards as well as a Travelex Travel Writer's Award. Two of his books, Beyond the Blue Horizon and Chasing the Monsoon, have been made into major BBC television films. His most recent book is Tales from the Torrid Zone. He lives in London.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (May 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033043313X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330433136
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A wonderfully droll and lively account of a deeply personal adventure to realize a singularly unique obsession. I loved it. Anyone who has ever experienced the collective madness and loopy high spirits that overtakes people who are about to contend with an overwhelming natural event in their lives (ie: approaching blizzard), especially one that isn't likely to kill them or be destroy their lives (ie: hurricane or earthquake), can appreciate this book and the wonderful characters brought so warmly to light.. Is there a people anywhere that isn't obsessed with weather? I think not. Is there any other weather system of so fundemaentally benign an aspect as the monsoon? I think not. Is there one that affects so many people on such a huge scale? I think not. Isn't there room for a great book here? I think so, and this is it. My compliments to Mr. Frater.
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_Chasing the Monsoon_ by Alexander Frater was an enjoyable travel book, one that I read in just a few days. The author's intention, as one might guess from the title, was to follow the progress of the summer monsoon through India, beginning in the southernmost tip of the subcontinent, Cape Comorin, and following its progress up the west coast through Trivandrum, Calicut, Goa, and Bombay, then jetting over to Delhi, and then to experience the eastern arm of the monsoon (there are two arms, one in the east of India, one in the west) in Calcutta and in two places near Bangladesh, Shillong and Cherrapunji (there was a map illustrating his route).

Frater began the book discussing his childhood in the New Hebrides, a group of islands in the South Pacific jointly administered at one time by both France and the United Kingdom, how growing up his missionary father helped instill in him a fascination for weather. His father had talked about one of the rainiest spots on Earth, Cherrapunji, India, which was known at the height of the monsoon season in July to get as much as 75 feet of rain, though more often in the 30 to 40 foot range, receiving as much as 40 inches in one day. Though Frater's father never visited Cherrapunji and lost interest in meteorology due to mounting family financial problems and the Second World War, Alexander himself never completely lost interest in the weather.

After relating how he finally decided to follow the monsoon in the summer of 1987 and if possible visit Cherrapunji, he detailed his pilgrimage throughout India. Though Frater did discuss some of the science of the monsoon and in particular the history of its study (noting such famous researchers as H.F.
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Format: Paperback
Few books on India can easily hope to undertake and accomplish the monumental task of depicting this complex society. This book is no exception. By taking the lens of the monsoon -- and the beliefs and practices which surround it in India - this book has adopted a wonderful device to depict a wide swathe of this country. Entertaining and thoughtful, this is certainly one of the more informative travelogues on India.
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Format: Paperback
Frater's style takes just the reader with him and shares the experience, ideas and emotions on a personal level. The concept of chasing water is unique enough but his style of writing is like a personal letter. I could smell the rain before it fell, I felt drenched, could smell the spices, feel crammed in buses, felt scared in the 'plane, was elated at the climax. Alexander Frater conveys images in such an open, frank manner that I believe him. He's like a traveller reporting in letters of experiences, sights and smells. I felt I knew him and wanted to know more of how he thought. This is a writer of such simplicity without any artifice that I want to be more a part of his world through his writings. Definitely a "must read" of travel books!
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Format: Paperback
One of the true joys of reading is finding a book that involves a person's "offbeat" interests, and how, if s/he does not just dream, but pursues them, and then can render that pursuit into a lively and well-written story, we are all so much the richer for it. Such a book is Mr. Frater's "Chasing the Monsoon," which had numerous unlikely cause and effect relationships, a la, the proverbial butterfly wings beating in China. But how many stories are not that way?

The story starts in the "condominium" of the New Hebrides, in the South Pacific, which was jointly administered by the British and the French prior to the Second World War. It is here that Mr. Frater spends his childhood, clearly a "path less traveled" prior to the arrival of the winds of war. And it is here that his father instills in him an interest in meteorology, and speaks of going to Cherrapunji, in India, which he likens to "one of the Stations of the Cross," as a "pilgrimage." It is this town that holds the world's record for the highest amount of annual rainfall. (and also for a day - 35 inches!)

His father's desires lay dormant in the son, and are finally activated by an event that literally occurs in Kashgar, in China, where the author develops medial problems that lead to a waiting room in London, and conversations with fellow patients about the monsoon. Shortly thereafter, he is on his way to witness one of the grand spectacles of nature, one that make much of India inhabitable. He starts at the very southern tip of India, at the end of May, in the town of Trivandrum, where he reports the anticipation and excitement which accompanies the annual life-giving event. By the 9th of June he is on a plane north, to Bombay, to await the monsoon as it moves north.
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