The Heat and Dust Project is a travel memoir and not just a travelogue as the title says. It is about the two people who are married to each other and how their relationship changes when they are travelling through India, to discover it and themselves in the process. It is about the feel of the place and the people they meet there, more than the place itself. They themselves along with the places they visit are the main characters in their own book.
They have dared to show things as they are, and shown themselves in less than flattering light many a time. Their relationship is there for everyone to see and that can’t have been easy. Two writers in the house and both fiercely opinionated and stubborn. It must be have one hell of a writing and editing process. I, for one, would have loved to be a fly on the wall to see how it came to be the book it is.
Reading the book shortly before an impending trip, it fell into my lap at just the right time. I bought the book a few months back and hadn’t gotten around to reading it. Then one fine day it struck me that it would make a great gift for a friend of mine who has the wanderlust and frequently travels with her better half. I read the authors’ interviews to know more about them and their project and I thought I will read just the author’s note to get a feel of the book. Then to get a better idea I read the introduction and before I knew it I was reading the book.
The strange thing is, whenever I read nonfiction (which is not very often) I only want to read more nonfiction. Initially it was a slow read, I was savouring every moment and nonfiction is more powerful in the way one experiences it, probably because one feels that it is something which has actually happened, real and tangible. The writing is conversational but still literary. A good balance I thought.
Anxiety is a strange but not uncommon response to beauty. It is mostly exhibited by people with a talent for stress.
Devapriya or D as she calls herself says this when they were going gaga over the beauty in Jaisalmer and thought they might not be able to do justice to its breathtaking gorgeousity (yes that is a word). At times like these I wished the book had some photographs.
I finally found someone, to whom dusk matters and affects, in equal measure. Finally a person who has a relationship with the setting sun, a person who has revelations at dusk. And just like me, dusk is a harbinger of hope for her. How a moment captured during twilight becomes perfectly stored in one’s memory has always been a mystery to me. A marker which nature gives us every single day, to take stock of the day, to pause and reflect.
When I had started the book I was feeling lonely and unsure, everlasting solitude doesn’t seem like a good idea now that I am wallowing in it. It’s true. Everything in excess is bad and solitude in large doses can turn into melancholy, as I have often experienced. I actually shed tears seeing them begin a life changing journey. I did not know that by the time I finish I would have tears in my eyes too.
Few pages into the book, I am enjoying the journey along with them and back in my, if not happy then, content place, where I can once again live with myself. The golden days of solitude and unhurried activity. Of short naps and long silences, punctuated only by the cries of birds and the sound of wind swaying branches and rustling the dry leaves (which have a characteristic sound) and occasionally people. Now I am more accustomed to the book, attuned to its needs and it to mine. And I am excited to be travelling with them.
Continue reading Thoughts on The Heat and Dust Project- How (not) to tell a book what you feel about it