Caravan to tibet


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This presentation describes the writing process of my children's historical adventure novel Caravan to Tibet. The book began as a short story inspired by my family history and after several years of research, evolved into a coming of age book about a boy searching for his missing father.

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Caravan to tibet

  1. 1. CARAVAN TO TIBET The journey ofa story
  2. 2. How did this journey begin?When I learned about my family historythrough: Stories told to me in my childhood. Accounts of trips to my grandfather’svillage/villages Accounts of the trade expeditions to Tibet. Learned about the exploits of two explorersfrom my extended family Nain Singh Rawatand Kishen Singh Rawat.
  3. 3. The next stage Reading about thejourneys of NainSingh and KishenSingh, the ‘Pundit’explorers whomapped Tibet indisguise.
  4. 4. The first book I read:Indian Explorers of the NineteenthCentury by I.S.Rawat Provided detailed accounts of thejourney to Tibet based on the diariesof the explorers. Descriptions of the landscape. Information about animals, birds,vegetation and climate. The food eaten on the journeys andthe clothes worn.
  5. 5. More details The different kinds of people andtheir occupations. The local customs. The hardships and dangers of thejourney—like attacks by robbers. Other interesting details.
  6. 6. Map of the route to Tibet This map fromIndian Explorers ofthe NineteenthCentury was veryhelpful. The explorers’route helped me towork out thedetails of Debu’sjourney.
  7. 7. Nain Singh Rawat Explored Tibet disguisedas a Tibetan lama in thenineteenth century. Discovered manyimportant facts like thealtitude of Lhasa and thesource of theBrahmaputra. Received titles andawards. The character of the Lamain Rudyard Kipling’s Kim issaid to be based on him.
  8. 8. Kishen Singh Rawat Followed his uncleNain Singh in thework of explorationand made furthergeographicaldiscoveries. Captured by robbersand was lost inMongolia for fouryears. Received many titlesand grants as well.
  9. 9. The result of all this reading Articles on the explorers. A great idea for an adventure story. A long short story published in theTarget magazine annual. Published again in Cricket magazinein the U.S.A. The idea of turning this story into anovel takes root…
  10. 10. It requires deeper research Further reading. Watching films and television.programmes on Tibet to visualize mysettings and characters. Talking to knowledgeable people likeKishen Singh’s grandson and his wife toknow more about local customs. Visiting some of the places where Debu issupposed to live.
  11. 11. Some more books I read The Pundits by Derek Waller A Mountain in Tibet by Charles Allan Madhya Himalaya ki Bhotia Janjati: Joharke Shauka by Dr. S.S. Pangtey Western Tibet and the Indian Borderlandby Charles A Sherring Lost World Tibet by Amaury de Riencourt Kailash-Mansarovar by SwamiPranavanand
  12. 12. Shauka customs This book provideddetails of thecustoms and dailylife of theShaukas. Also provideduseful historicalfacts about thetrade expeditions.
  13. 13. Shauka women-Debu’s motherprobably dressed like this A photograph whichhelped me to describeDebu’s mother-fromWestern Tibet and theIndian Borderland byCharles A Sherring, aBritish official whomade a journey toTibet in the early 20thcentury.
  14. 14. Shauka men The term ‘Bhotia’,more commonlyused, is consideredderogatory now. When I found out,I changed ‘Bhotia’into the acceptableterm ‘Shauka’ inthe novel.
  15. 15. Gyanima market This is the firstTibetan market Debuvisits. Charles Sherringsbook was full ofdetails like the strongwind and the foulsmelling fuel and thedifficulty of cooking aproper meal.
  16. 16. Dokpa women This photograph, alsofrom Western Tibetand the IndianBorderland by CharlesSherring, helped meto visualize a scene ata market. Also add exotic detailsabout local costumes.
  17. 17. A Tibetan official Again fromWestern Tibet andthe IndianBorderland. I found manydetails aboutTibetan officialsand an account ofthe Gartok horserace.
  18. 18. Exploring the actual setting My grandfathershouse in Quithi,(kind ofabandoned now). This village is oneof the placeswhere Debu livesin the book.
  19. 19. More details to add flavourto the story A window framefrom mygrandfather’shouse in a localmuseum.
  20. 20. Woman weaving Perhaps Debu’smother used asimilar loom.
  21. 21. Debu enjoyed this view too! The Panchachulimountains glimpsedfrom Munsiyari. According to legendthese peaks get theirname from Pancha(five) and Chuli(cooking pot). They are said to havebeen used as cookingpots for the last mealthe Pandava brothershad, before theirjourney to heaven.
  22. 22. Turning a short story into anovel Adding another episode to the threeoriginal main ones—the horse race. Putting in more characters, like thevillainous Cousin Trilok and the othermembers of the group, the Garphan etc. Adding more descriptions and culturaldetails. Fleshing out existing characters.
  23. 23. The End Revising, revising and… revising! Sending it to a publisher and waitingpatiently for a decision. Finally the book is accepted andpublished by Puffin!
  24. 24. NEXT! Caravan isnominated for theIBBY Honour List2008. Translated intoKorean.
  25. 25. Thank you!PS. All this researchalso inspired a poemtitled “Woman onthe Road to Lhasa”