06 December 2013

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey

Let me start with a  confession - as a teenager like most people I thought he was some Rock Star or from a popular music band like Floyd or The Doors. The pictures of Che Guevara on T-shirts and banners, media hype and deification by the Y-gen was something that added to his happening image. It was much later I learnt that he was the exact opposite of all this and stood for something much bigger and much more relevant.


We all have read about great historical explorers born to be wild, to wander and discover new worlds. Their journeys sometimes leading to new lands, hidden treasures, ancient discoveries or sometimes nothing at all. But one thing that they all do achieve is 'Discovering oneself'. These travels through unknown throw various challenges, opportunities, learnings, experiences, choices and threats.. and these change you by each day sometimes making you stronger by rising to the occasion and surviving the toughest, sometimes wiser by knowing the unknown, sometimes as a leader bringing in the change wherever you go and whatever you touch. All these experiences can change the course of your life setting it in a direction where home is world and world is home.

So if you are thinking that this book is a simple journey of two friends through the continent giving an account of natives and places in South America like any travel book, then you are surely mistaken. It does have two simple guys on a journey with all the twists and turns of a drama but it brings a deeper meaning to travelling i.e. to belong. You can be a tourist looking at all the monuments and significant places staying in luxury hotels and travelling through comfortable modes of transport. But the journey turns real when you go with the flow as the life takes you.

People say it's about their motor cycle ride through South America but I felt that their real journey started when they left the bike and took to feet. Travelling by trucks, hitch hiking, walking through deserts or caravan, saving money for flights and hidden rides on ship. All this through bouts of asthma, hunger and cold weather, lack of money and begging, visits to leper colony or labor areas in mining cities. The book is most popular as the author later turned into the great revolutionary 'Che' and this journey was one of the things which changed the course of his life.

So to summarize, this book is what someone rightly said 'Coming together of 'Easy Rider' and 'Das capital'


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