If all travelogues were photo essays, armchair travel would be so rewarding.
Robert Arnett`s, "India Unveiled " is a photographic essay. The fact that it bagged the Benjamin Franklin Award for the best travel essay of 1997 and the Small Press Award for the best travel book should be reason enough to get into it and be transported. To a fascinating India many of us see, but hardly notice.
Arnett attributes the origin of his interest in India to his reading the "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Yogananda Parmahansa. This led him to the vast treasure house of Indian philosophy and the treasure trove that is India.
He made several trips to India between 1988 and 1995 - not as a mere tourist, but as a visitor wanting to know the Life and Soul of the Land. "This book is a tribute to the traditional values of India. For thousands of years, the basic cornerstones of Indian culture had changed very little . . . the oldest continuously surviving civilisation on earth," says he.
Accurate though he tries to be, the setting, time and age are not entirely flawless.
Arnett, having observed the Indian way of life, observes: "the Hindu values are so deeply ingrained that India will be able to assimilate Western technology into its own culture...the eternal verities of village India will be as vibrant as ever."
What has impressed him most about India? Arnett says, "My reply is, the peaceful demeanour of her people.."
Arnett`s photographs capture the warmth that is India.
A fascinating odyssey. Take it, some time.