At a point in the book I wondered if I was reading about a tale of animal adventure or a abduction mystery novel!!!
Actually it is both these rolled into one most skilfully and with nail biting suspense, requiring thinking speed that matched the leopards speed!!
The prelude to the book is a must read. A question that must be asked when this flourishing illegal trade is decimating our fellow earth beings is where is the demand coming from? What are the traders feeding upon?
The story begins with the sincerity of a leopard exploring trek, in the Ladakh area by a cosmopolitan , heterogeneous group of ten people. They are out to track the ‘grey ghost of the Himalayas’ and contribute their understanding and information about this elusive, beautiful, animal that inhabits one of the most severe terrains of the world. Even sighting them is satisfaction enough and appears as precious as sighting the moon to declare the Id-ul-Fitr!!
However Ladakh is populated with people who have crossed over from Tibet, home to the ‘chiru’, precious producer of the shahtoosh wool. Blending with the population there are traders, who have elaborate plans on converting this precious fur to make embarrassing profits. All of this is illegal and many an organisation is trying hard to contain this menace. It interests ecological activists as it erodes the delicate balance of your ecological treasures and endangers many a species of animals.
However all this becomes a backdrop in another story that unfolds about the Chinese highhandedness in smothering the culture of Tibet, now oppressed by China.
What are they after?
How does the local and floating population contribute to the menace?
Are poachers, abductors and mercenary traders as elusive as the silvery ghost of the snow deserts?
What are the transformations that experiences during such a trek, albeit unexpected, can unfold within you?Would it be easier to explore introspection in the serenity of the majestic Himalayas and confront and spring clean the skeletons in the inner most core of our beings?
The book is a journey on many levels and indeed Deepak seems to have his central hub rooted in the real world happenings.
Read about the group straining their eye muscles to spot a movement that might mean a leopard sighting.
Read about the eleventh person joining the group, who is even more precious than the tiger bones bartered at the China- India border.
Read about the vile plans of the rich and the unscrupulous matched nerve for nerve by the idealistic youth on the trek.
Read about life on the edge for so many who live in these terrains.
I couldn’t put the book down till I finished it as it seemed plugged in real-time experiences.