“How wonderfully fresh and adventurous it must have been for the 20-year-old Braham travelling through the Himalaya in 1942 as a young soldier on leave during the Second World War and how wonderful to have Sherpa companions whom he had read about in the pre-war Everest expedition books,” pens the ace mountaineer Doug Scott in the forward written for the book Himalayan Playground by the author Trevor Braham. In a way his expression sums up what this book is all about – the adventures of Braham from 1942 to 1972 on the roof of the world – the Himalayas.
Having spent a good part of his studentship in Darjeeling during the British Raj, energetic Trevor Braham took to mountaineering at the age of 20. The blessing guardianship of the Kangchenjunga massif had casted a strong influence upon him that aroused his later ambitions in the field of organised mountaineering. His initial rambles in the western part of Sikkim in 1942 enabled him to define his interests and helped him assess his strengths and limitations.
Next he boarded the thought of Garhwal Himalayas in 1947 and climbed the Kedarnath Dome among his many other exploits in the region. Opportunely he was in the holy town of Badrinath, as he claims, on the day when India gained independence. “It was a privilege to have visited the mountains of Garhwal at a time when unlimited mountaineering opportunities existed in a beautiful and practically untouched region,” Braham writes. Himalayas addicted, he visited the Himalayas almost every year during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Braham’s other noted explorations recollected in the book includes that of Sikkim region in 1949, Kullu-Spiti watershed region in 1955, Karakoram in 1958 before his interest shifted to the tribal regions of Swat, Kohistan and Kaghan during the decade of 1960s. According to him his prime objective of traveling to the mountains was not to seek material objectives or accolades but in search of those eternal rewards that only Himalayas possess, free from the routine humdrum of life.
Although, the book sheds some light on the mountain life of the times about which very little written historical evidence has been obtained, it essentially remains to be a recollection of the events that transpired more than 50 years before. Written in 2008 without any seeming aid from the trip-reports, the book fails to do full justice to his raw enthusiasm, interest as well as the variety of information otherwise obtained by way of travelling into the regions which were relatively untouched by mountaineering or tourism. Frankly speaking, the book is merely a recollection of his experience giving a blueprint about his “trips”. The description in the book looks to be mellowed down after a gap of more than five decades.
Notwithstanding the loss of information, the book intriguingly captures climbs in the remote Himalayan region by way of trip-photographs. Without doubt, one of the most interesting aspects of this modest book is the description of his activities in the tribal areas of Pakistan Himalayas. Although, it makes for a pleasant read for a Himalayan lover, nevertheless, nearing Rs 2000, a paperback edition of the book is highly overpriced. The book is available at Amazon as well as at Flipkart.