A new book by travel writer Rory Maclean, "Magic Bus" follows "the hippie trail from Istanbul to India". From Rory’s website:
"In the Sixties and Seventies hundreds of thousands of young Westerners took off for India, blazing the ‘hippie trail’ from Istanbul to Kathmandu. These intrepid pioneers left behind their parents’ world of postponed pleasure, the guilt of Empire and the spectre of war. Aboard the weirdest procession of unroadworthy vehicles ever to rattle across the face of the earth, they reached for a new kind of life, and became the first movement of people who travelled to be colonised rather than to colonise. In Magic Bus I retrace on foot and by bus their wide-eyed adventures along the route reopened for the first time in a generation."
Here is a review in the Guardian Unlimited of Magic Bus.
The reason I am mentioning this book is not because I have read it, but because I have just visited Rory’s lovely sister, Marlie, and she’s been telling me about it. It will be serialised on BBC Radio 4 during July, apparently. I missed the hippy era, but only just — now, it seems as distant as Kemel Attaturk (not that even I am quite that old..) Here’s an extract from the Guardian review:
"MacLean balances these arguments in a tone which falls somewhere between celebration and regret, eulogising the hippy trailblazers who established the path to enlightenment, yet in doing so ensured that there were no trails left to blaze. He salutes the enterprise of people prepared to travel thousands of miles without adequate suspension ("the secret for a successful trip was to get the passengers smoking chillum dope pipes before breakfast"); yet he observes how four decades of tourism have turned Tibet into a Himalayan theme park."
(PS no idea why some of the type in the middle of this post has gone smaller — can’t seem to do anything about it.)