Kavitha Buggana on her journey of a lifetime

A childhood dream to visit Manasarovar led Kavita Buggana to turn into an author

Published - February 02, 2019 04:42 pm IST

Kavita Buggana

Kavita Buggana

It was in the early 1980s when the route to Manasarovar, was reopened after decades (closed due to the Indo-China war), that Kavitha Buggana dreamt of embarking on the journey of a lifetime. As described in her debut book, Walking in Clouds , she along with her cousin would climb the small hills that surrounded her school and dream of the adventures waiting outside their sleepy world. Those adventures resulted in a unique travelogue which brings to life her journey to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, the holiest of Hindu and Buddhist sites.

“Young girls don’t dream of going to Mount Kailash, they dream of going to Paris,” laughs Kavitha and adds, “Whenthe route finally opened, there was a lot of buzz. The fact that no one had been allowed on it for decades added to the excitement. Apart from this, the person who led the expedition was a very good friend of my father, so I had a personal account of the journey. That someone I actually knew, went to the place and was raving about it made me take an interest.”

Dream come true

After a stint as a software engineer in Chicago and a developmental economist, Kavitha finally made it to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar in 2011. The novelist who loves the idea of Shiva and all the gods in the Hindu pantheon even though she is an atheist, says her reasons for making the trip transcended religion. “The fact that I had wanted to go to these places as a young girl made the trip special. I had a conventional life with a career and kids, and this was a way to acknowledge to myself that the dreams of my girlhood were still alive.” she shares.

Just back from the Galle Literary Festival, Kavitha reminiscences the many surreal moments from her trip, “ So many things stand out – the day my cousin and I, reached the foothills of Mount Kailash and sat by a small stream of melted snow, the silences of the region which seemed so peaceful, the first day when we questioned our audacity in taking up the trip when we were exhausted and felt unprepared. It was a remarkable experience.”

Though interested in writing from childhood, Kavitha never took it up as a vocation and did not plan to write during the trip. She shares, “I had no intention of writing while I was travelling. I think I started penning my story down almost a year and half after the trip. Luckily, the people I was travelling with maintained a meticulous day to day account and were excellent photographers. So, while I referred to those notes for the names of the places and other minute details, what I wrote were my deeply felt observations.”

Kavitha admits the process of bringing out her book was challenging. She couldn’t achieve much writing at home as she was often distracted by the domestic duties. “Mentally, it was very difficult, so I would go to Lamakaan , coffee shops and the library at British Council. I felt that I was more productive outside the house.” she chuckles.

Presently she is working on a collection of short stories.

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