Monday, February 26, 2007

Watch out, there's an Abominable Snowman

Some run to the bathroom, some run across the Sahara. It's natural instinct, gut feeling. And a few people did trek 5,000 miles across the Sahara, but not without reality striking one runner.

Stuck in a nasty sandstorm, he sat down and asked himself: "What [the hell] am I doing?" But, he persevered and finished the trek. Battling extreme conditions, these guys are an inspiration. Compare that to Slavomir Rawicz, who wrote an amazingly boffo book: "The Long Walk."

Slav's amazingly 'true' story is about his capture and unjust imprisonment in a Gulag, escape and trek from near the Arctic Circle into India. He walks through Siberia, Mongolia, Gobi desert and the Himalayas, ultimately landing up in Calcutta. To do that is incredible -- humanly impossible -- his will to live must have been amazing.

First, he crosses Siberia, living on camp supplies and hunted animals and fish. He swims across rivers effortlessly. Amazing, I thought. Soon, Slav and his escapee gang meet Mongolians with conical caps. They walk across the unforgiving Gobi sands, dehydrated and killing snakes for dinner.

I told myself "Wow. This is absolutely unreal. I didn't know Mongolians wore conical caps and Gobi had snakes."

Soon they climb hard Himalayan peaks, all hungry, tired and cold. Wow, dude, this really can't be happening.

And then Slav sees the Abominable Snowman. Arghh! In one quick second, reality came crumbling down. This guy is a fraud.

But who was to prove this story is fake? Channel 4 did an expose of this so-called "true story." He didn't do the long walk, nor was he innocent.

Official records indicated that Rawicz was sent to prison for killing an NKVD officer, and he was released as part of an Polish amnesty. (NKVD is KGB's predecessor.) He went on to fight in World War II out of Russia, not from Palestine, where he claims to have fought from.

Nevertheless, the story's an interesting read. The literature's strange -- words like 'blouse,' 'garter,' and 'girdle' are used to describe men's clothing. It reads like a design journal at times with rooms detailed in excruciatingly painful detail. And of course, the Abominable Snowman gets 2-3 pages.

Blunders apart, the campy plot makes up for the poor literature. If you're into Russia/Mongolia stuff, pick it up.


Blogger venus said...

seems like an interesting read, may be i'll borrow from library first..

sorry for this long pause, and i didn't mean to be rude by not saying thank you, tehre were manythings hapening on my personal front. Thank you for trying to help Nisha..

Hope all is well with you too.

10:52 AM  
Blogger jane said...

I was reading this post thinking, "Wow! This totally sounds like something I MUST read" - and then you bring out the abominable snowman and whatnot. Boo, Slav, Boo.

6:50 AM  

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