An American in Europe plans an overland trip to India to kick-start a career in journalism in this travel memoir.
Buck’s (East, 2013, etc.) colorful autobiography serves as a sequel to her previous book and begins in 1972 as she returns to Germany after a memorable trek to Nepal. She stayed with a friend in West Berlin, an island inside of Soviet East Germany. From the elevated train, she could see the entire city, and on the platforms were intimidating East German guards. Nonetheless, she enjoyed her new friends in the metropolis and the vibrant student community. After a particularly cold winter, she secured a teaching job at an American military base in southern Germany, but her wanderlust still ran strong. Intrigued by the peaceful nature of Swedish society, she soon found herself in Stockholm and got a marvelous introduction to Scandinavian culture. Unfortunately, she could only secure menial work, though somehow she studied free at the university. It hadn’t been that long since she returned from Asia, but she realized that “sometimes a new journey begins when we least expect it.” Deciding on a future as a journalist, she threw a camera and an old Olivetti typewriter into her knapsack and set off for a return trip to India to learn about child care practices in Asia. She traveled in a VW bus driven by a man named Jürgen, and their destination was Gandhi’s ashram and, later, Goa. She was seeking to observe and report and maybe promote some cross-cultural understanding, unaware of how difficult the trip would be physically and of the looming political crisis about to grip India. As a follow-up, Buck’s journey is never a dull one, as she hops around Europe and Asia, discovering such wonders as a youth hostel on a ship in Sweden and mirrored cloth and tie-dye skirts in Rajasthan. The sights and sounds are impressive (at one point, she and Jürgen drive over the Khyber Pass), and her resourcefulness and knowledge are invaluable when traveling with limited funds. The quest to begin journalistic work evolves slowly, sometimes taking a back seat to health and travel issues. But the effort to understand other cultures with an eye toward women’s rights is vividly described.
An energetic, candid remembrance of the compelling moments that shape a young reporter’s career.