Home

   Everest 04 Home
   Today's News
  
Banners Ads
   Bookstore
  
Contact

   Downloads
   E-mail (Free)
  
Educational
  
Facts
  
Games
  
Gear
  
History
  
Interviews 
  
Mailing List

   Media

   Medical
  
News (current)
   Sat Phones
   Search Everest 2004
   Speakers
   Readers Guide
   Risks

   Trip Reports
   Visitor Agreement

   Volunteer/help

 

    
  

 

  




  Book Review: Touching Tibet Niema Ash Eye-Books (2003)


Niema Ash's "Touching Tibet" was one of the most beguiling and thought provoking pieces of literature published last year. Her skills lie in the way she personalizes her experiences and allows the reader to relate to her story. Her journeying in Tibet will be particularly at home amongst fellow travellers where there will be plenty of parallel experiences. Something I can empathize with is being underdressed in a cold place, usually en route to a hot destination. Sludging through thick Scandinavian snow in open-toed sandals and thin trousers was no fun, but I had the last laugh when a sweaty Santa decanted into Bangkok's 80% humidity! I have also demonstrated disco dancing to the Chinese.

Also like Niema, I have wept in Lhasa. I entered on one of the few organised tours allowed into Tibet after the Chinese clamped down on border crossings and made Niema's style of independent travel in Tibet a thing of the past. When she went, there had only been a handful of tourists before her. When I went, there was even a Lonely Planet Guide. Much of what I found was a result of the bastardization of the Tibetan people, their home and their culture. There was little of Tibet left. This is far removed from what Niema witnessed as the clinging vestiges of an oppressed country. I recognised that Tibet had lost against overwhelming might. And this is why I wept.

Niema's writing comes in three quite different styles; narrator, storyteller and political activist. As narrator, Niema's recollections resound wih the day-to-day trivia and props familiar to the global traveller; guidebooks, guest-houses and market-place bartering. But, beyond the mundane, her fascination with Tibetan Buddhism breeds an undercurrent of the supernatural; part hippy new-age, part ancient sorcery. These are islands in the flowing descriptive narrative which is also punctuated by stilted and contrived dialogue. For their comparitive secularism, more storytelling and politics would have been welcome. However, she does admit that "Touching Tibet" is not a "sociological, political or historical study of Tibet". There are plenty other sources for that, and Niema is not that type.

No, Niema is like the Tibetans - an aesthetic people. A people who recognise and cherish beauty. Her description of the Potala is exactly right, "The Palace and hill have become one in a fusion of nature, God and man". But this delivery does take skill to maintain clarity, and elsewhere Niema does drift infrequently into states of fuzziness. For example, a few pages later, and on the same subject, "preserving a formidable distance between God and men", contradicts her previous description.

Niema's descriptions of the open devotion at the Jokhang is unrecognisable to me. Only a short time after Niema's Tibet, the country was even further incarcerated by Chinese rule, making it quite impossible to express one's faith there. Sadder still is that Tibet will never again be recognisable to Niema, but at least we have this gift of her everlasting impression through her story.

Julian F. Derry

You can order Niema Ash's "Touching Tibet" here.

 
Altitech2: Digital Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Thermometer. Time/Date/Alarms. Chronograph with 24 hour working range. Timer with stop, repeat and up function. Rotating Bezel. Leveling bubble. Carabiner latch. E.L. 3 second backlight. Water resistant. 4" x 2-1/4" x 3/4" 2 oz. Requires 1 CR2032 battery. See more here.

 




 

  Altitude pre-
  
acclimatization

   Ascenders

   Atlas snowshoes

   Black Diamond

   Botas

   Brunton

   Carabiners

   CaVa Climbing Shoes
   Clearance

   Clif Bar

   CMI

   Crampons

   Edelweiss ropes
  
Eureka Tents

   Featured

   FoxRiver

   Garmin

   Granite Gear

   Harnesses
   Headlamps
   Helmets

   HighGear
   Ice Axes

   Kavu Eyewear

   Katadyn

   Kong

   Lekisport

   Lowepro

   Motorola

   Nalgene

   New England Ropes

   Nikwax

   Omega

   Outdoor Designs

   Pelican

   PowerBar

   Princeton Tec

   Prescription Glacier

   Glasses

   Primus

   Rope Bags

   Seattle Sports

   Serius
  
Sleeping Bags

   Stubai

   Suunto

   Tents

   Trekking Poles
   Ushba
  
and more here

 

 



  



Send email to     •   Copyright© 1998-2003 EverestNews.com
All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Disclaimer, Privacy Policy, Visitor Agreement, Legal Notes: Read it