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Updated: December 6, 2010 19:14 IST

Book Worm: On the trail of Hieun Tsang

NIMI KURIAN
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ATISA AND THE TIME MACHINE by Anu Kumar, Puffin Books, Rs. 175
ATISA AND THE TIME MACHINE by Anu Kumar, Puffin Books, Rs. 175

Fly around with Atisa in his flying machine and watch Hieun Tsang on his travels. Experience history first-hand.

Can you remember the number of times you must have repeated “Hieun Tsang was a Chinese monk who visited India around 630, during the reign of King Harshavardhana….” You would have tried to mug up about his journey and the places he visited. But now you can relax. Here's a fun way to get all your facts right and also accompany Hieun Tsang on his journey.

How you ask? Simple. Atisa is back with his flying machine and is all set to take you on another adventure. And this time around Atisa follows Hieun Tsang, the monk and traveller. But the story has a rather innocent beginning.

This story begins just like the previous book Atisa and the Seven Wonders where Atisa is unwittingly dragged into an exciting quest. In …Seven Wonders, he finds a flying machine in his backyard. He fiddles with a few knobs and he realises he is flying. But that's not all, he gets to visit the seven wonders of the ancient world. But who could have landed a flying machine in his backyard? Atisa has a hunch that it is Daedalus, the master inventor and engineer of Athens.

In this book, Atisa is all set to fly off to visit his mother Gaea who is in Central Asia. But then there are other things that need looking into. Like the sound of hooves that his sound monitor picks up. Of course he has to find out more and then discovers Danyi, who is from the Chinese emperor's court. Danyi is searching for Hieun Tsang who has left his country without the emperor's permission. So Danyi has been sent to bring Hieun Tsang back.

Atisa now has to find Hieun Tsang and warn as well as protect him, for his life is in danger. From then on it is one big adventure. Atisa and Hieun Tsang get caught in a blizzard, have a misadventure with sea pirates, many attempts of assassination, disciples who cannot be trusted and many more disastrous situations.

This is a good time to understand the history as well as the geography of Central Asia and India in the 7{+t}{+h} century.

But why is the protagonist called Atisa? Well, Atisa was a Buddhist teacher and he is the one who is supposed to be responsible for re-establishing Buddhism in Tiber. In the book, Atisa's father is Gesar, a powerful Buddhist king in Tibet, and his mother is Gaea (Mother Earth) the first goddess in Greek mythology.

The book is fast paced, quickly moving from one adventure to another. Anu Kumar's writing is simple and easy to understand and she takes you from one event to another with effortless ease. Though it is a work of fiction, there is history and a lot of research seems to have gone into it. So which part of the story is fiction and which is fact? Well, you will have to read the book to find out for yourself.

ATISA AND THE TIME MACHINE by Anu Kumar, Puffin Books, Rs. 175

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