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"Irreverent is a good word to describe this chronicle of a four-month sojourn in North India and the Himalayas undertaken by a group of California college students, teacher and novelist Rosenthal, his poet wife, and their daughter. But it merely hints at the many dimensions of Rosenthal's roguish and frank travelogue, what with its thorny detail, skepticism, and chutzpah; complex philosophical, political, and spiritual conundrums; acid humor, mystical chaos, and cosmic surrealism. It helps that Rosenthal, hailed everywhere he goes as 'Cowboy' thanks to his feathered hat, has been immersed in Buddhism for several decades, enabling him to extract lessons in the nature of illusion from every ludicrous, alarming, or gratifying episode within the cacophony and crush of Kolkata, the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan, the impossibilities of Sikkum, and the labyrinthine surprises of Kathmandu. Rosenthal vividly recounts time-warping complications, extreme discomfort and illness, suffocating train rides, terrifying maneuvers on crumbling mountain roads, the ferment of immense markets, bloody border conflicts, terrorism, spontaneous friendship, and glorious vistas. As he shares his affecting adventures swimming in the Ganges and visiting temples, monasteries, and a zoo without animals, Rosenthal contemplates epic suffering and transcendent beauty in a wry and transporting tale of both earthly and metaphysical journeys."--Donna Seaman, Booklist

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