Thursday, 26 November 2009

Dehra Dun

Ok I am now in this crazy Indian City on my way to Mussoorie on the Hannibal Fogg trail. Flight from UK was OK- Delhi was a nightmare and I had to leave by train at dawn to come here- 12 hours- but in second class AC so it was OK. Dehra Dun is dirty, sprawling and wild- and I kind of like it, but I am really looking forward to getting to Mussoorie which is where the real trail begins. However one strange thing happened to me at the bus station where I went to inquire about getting up to the hill stations. A rather elderly man with obviously dyed hair engaged me in abstruse conversation about the 'British in India'. He spoke in an exaggeratedly verbose way that suggested he was showing me how educated he was- which worked because he used words I had only a vague idea what they meant. Anyway after lecturing me about the largely malign influence of the British- fair enough I thought being ignorant of this subject myself- he said, "I can tell you are an educated gentleman, a cut above the rest. Please come and visit my shop." Ot Oh. That old chestnut. But having nothing to do, and a desire to see just how far he would try and push me to buy some knick knack or other, I went with him.

The shop was a seedy old bookshop off the second main street after the railway station. The window was stacked with computer software manuals, but in the back of the shop he had large numbers of reprinted anthropological texts written by British administrators in the early 20th century. We sat down on two stools and he shouted through a dirty curtain to the back of the shop for tea. The conversation was all over the place until I mentioned Hannibal Fogg. He looked at me with horror (no kidding) and said- you are the second person to ask about him in one week! And get this- he sold a hannibal fogg book (which I thought were all unavailable) to this 'young female backpacker not unattractive, antipodean I suspect' as he put it. I was so intrigued i even bought a map and guide to Mussorie off him. He had no more details of interest except he said he could get me 'numerous copies of the work of Hannibal Fogg'!!!! Incredible. i said I would be back in a week from Mussoorie to buy whatever he had. when I told him about the Tibetan hibernation secrets I was looking for he poh poohed it by saying 'that is fakir trickery my friend, nothing serious'. I didn't believe him. So a good start to the journey!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

hannibal fogg society


Hannibal Fogg and Tibetan Monks

From clues in the Hannibal Fogg monograph on Tibetan Monks I will be flying early next week to Delhi in India and then by train to Dehra Dun and by bus (?) to Mussoorie which until about two weeks ago I thought was in the USA! turns out it was a place Brit officials used to go in the hot summer to recover in the mountains while they were colonising Inja. anyway I shall be going hot on the trail of my role model (I wish) and hero Hannibal Fogg who reported meeting exiled Tibetan monks there. Even in his day they were driving tibetans from their homeland, but then, the 1900s, it was because of a widespread practice then frowned on; human hibernation. I kid you not. These monks were experts at reducing body temperature and even slowing their heartbeat right down. If I have a chance I will talk by phone to James Lings an expert on these matters, though he isn't answering my emails right now!!!