One woman's extraordinary adventure into the rural heart of India, uncovering a fascinating, hidden world.
Mimlu Sen is living a bohemian life in Paris when she witnesses an electrifying performance by three wandering minstrels from rural India. They wear flowing, multicoloured robes and play frenetic rhythms on strange instruments made of wood and clay, capturing the many moods of nature and passion. After her turbulent past, including a year in a Calcutta jail, Mimlu instantly knows it is time to set off on the journey of her life.
One of the minstrels, Paban Das Baul, is a gifted young musician with a growing international reputation. Mimlu defies prejudice to travel with him deep into the heart of Bengal, the rural hinterland behind Calcutta where few tourists ever go. In this fascinating and unusual book, she describes how they make their way across country, from shanty town to village, from monastery to festival, perched on the roofs of buses and squeezed inside trains, encountering tantrics and sages, exorcisms and witch sightings, catfish that climb trees and esoteric secrets – and fall in love.
With Paban’s encouragement, Mimlu too performs for alms – ‘gathering honey’ in the traditional Baul way – and is initiated into a hidden world of song, sensuality and adventure as wild and unpredictable as the landscape itself.
“A revelation...a keyhole to a living mystical world...remarkable for its wonderful prose”
“Brilliantly and honestly told, thrillingly evocative, this book is saturated in the sights, sounds and seasons of India”
“Exceptional...The haunting music provides the narrative drive of this wonderful piece of writing, as Sen reveals a colourful and largely unknown world...An illuminating and inspiring story of adventure in a world that few of us will ever experience”
“Joyfully written and very evocative of an esoteric, enchanted, chaotic world”