New Yorker man and author of Hong Kong (1952), Christopher Rand here travels through independent Asia and turns in observer reports, generally impersonal and unrelated, with implications of itinerary indicated. He examines and marvels at the vast new construction in India, theorizes about the ambiguous stature of Vinoba Bhave and Tenzing, and discovers in the tropical life of the Malay coast and the protocol of an opium den those ancient facets of the East which nothing changes. Visiting the immense new capital of Chandragarh in the East Punjab he writes of the ingenious vizors or shutter contraptions to regulate the sunlight and describes Corbusier at work, selfless and tyrannical. At Bakhra, where the greatest dam in Asia is being built, Rand frets over the construction boss Slocum, a concrete director as inventive, indefatigable and inflexible as Corbusier, though far more money-conscious. But the consequences of the dam and super-modern government offices are left precariously to the reader's imagination, and the best pages tell of the techniques and customs of the opium den, where the occasion calls for no illuminating reflections and the author's trained eye catches everything of interest. Geared to the idle curious. A tenuous significance attaches to the title.