Books Reviews

River Dog: A Journey Down the Brahmaputra

As the title suggests, this is a travelogue. It describes how Mark Shand followed the river Brahmaputra from its source in Tibet, through India and to the sea in Bangladesh.


The funny thing is Shand doesn’t actually get onto a boat on the river until very late in the book. First there is the trip to Tibet and a stay in Delhi. Then he travels around Assam by helicopter, truck, etc. However, the latter part of the book provides a vivid picture of life on the river.

Shand describes his journey with verve and humour. The way he describes his dog Bhaiti (chosen exclusively for this journey), his photographer friend Aditya Patankar (whom he calls the Great Maratha) and all other people we meet in this book is endearing and hilarious.

However, I thought that he was merely a first class passenger on a journey where his friends arranged everything from the shore. He even had a crew to sail his boat and feed him. Again, I expected more on Tibet, North East India and Bangladesh and not about Bhaiti’s life.

The book is worth a read although the content varies from the sublime to the silly and Shand sometimes seems highly self-involved.

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