In this vivid travelogue, a 58-year-old retired Indian husband and father is convinced by his wife to undertake a 30-mile trek around Mount Kailash in Tibet at an altitude of over 18,000 feet.
Mo Rao’s adventure begins with a threat against him and his family, made by a member of the “land mafia”: gangsters acquiring real estate in a rapidly growing Bangalore. The gangsters want Rao to hand over his valuable property, implying that “a corpse will be lying in my…property if I do not sell the land to him.”
As he relates this to his religious wife Mamatha, she asks him to pray to the Hindu god Lord Shiva. She then tells him that her friend, an expert on rituals and scriptures, “told me that a dip in Manasa Sarovar and a circumambulation of the Himalayan Mount Kailash will ward off all evils from life.”
Scared for his family’s safety, he agrees to the trip, and after his wife wears him down, he finally books an organized excursion. Despite the freezing cold and physical challenges, a reluctant Mo immerses himself in the Manasa Sarovar lake and meets the holy mountain with reverence. “In the spiritual shelter of the towering Kailash, life and death seemed inconsequential. All my possessions and achievements appeared trivial. I marveled at the cosmic hand that had guided me to Kailash and Manasa Sarovar to show me the magnificence of the divine design.”
Mo is a terrific storyteller, whether describing his fear of being at a gangster’s mercy or taking the last few, death-defying steps on the trek around Mount Kailash. He’s self-deprecating, earthy, and skilled at describing his fellow travelers and the rigors of travelling in Communist China. He brings to life ancient Hindu myths about this lake and mountain with color and awe. Photos reinforce the astonishing nature of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Whether readers are armchair travelers interested in Hindu culture and the Tibetan landscape or contemplating a similar trip, they will find Rao’s tale irresistible.
Also available as an ebook.