I was almost on the verge of conclusion that majority of ‘good’ Hindi books that are being published today are either classic’s reprint or translated texts. Thankfully, Dar Dar Gange sabotaged my belief ! The title & deciphered meaning itself was potent enough to get me reading.
Most remarkable part of the book is that it can’t be classified into any discrete category – methinks. I wont call it a travelogue though it talks about Gangotri to Gangasagar with all important places en-route. Authors envisage fictitious characters for the account that is all true – so no fiction & non-fiction tags either. Neither did they touch mythological aspect of the sacred stream for it should be called as a religious read. Then what is it ? Well, Dar Dar Gange is nothing but a chronicle of human evolution (embellished with faith, emotion, culture, ethos, greed, religious downfall, dirty business, rampant development, fallen ethics, environmental encroachment, ecological mayhem etc.) alongside the river. The author literally but neutrally laments over the fact that how Ganga has been disrobed over the ages and environmental apathy that prevails. The chapters come as per the 30 associated places which follows the river’s path. Reading them was a matter of minutes, but provoked to think for hours. Abhay Mishra & Pankaj Ramendu (authors) with their literary master-stroke never let me knew if it was a predicament of river itself or the human being – or the confluence of both (though the language has been regular Hindi not archaic).
The expedition begins with Gangotri where they get to learn about religious pursuits as the means of livelihood and sole dependency over the same (and this has been common to all other places with different cultural-commercial undertones). Doing it in 3 years with 3 spells, they came across various individuals (and places) which had their own share of woes – few for Ganga and some for self. Their verbal encounter with men in penury (once prosperous) and money minting opportunists (mafias and ministers) sees an insightful remark. The book seamlessly goes on discussing Bhagirathi to Ganga to Hoogly – as good as their own flow. Travelling with stream, it all concludes at Gangasagar with both tangible & intangible portrayal of the river which created and nurtured a civilization.
I vaguely remember a review of movie ‘Dharm‘ where the critique blatantly says, “Such kind of movies should be screened freely in school for the message it packed”. And as a complimentary gesture to the authors, I personally hold the same sentiment that every concerning individual should be allowed to go through it. No armchair pilgrimage is this, but the eye opening odyssey with ‘then & now’ scenario in vivid contrast. Gripping for how & what has been written but harrowing for the real fact it puts forth – must read !