Kindred Spirits
Outlook Traveller|February 2020
LAO TZU FAMOUSLY SAID THAT WHEN WE LET GO OF WHAT WE ARE, WE BECOME WHAT WE MIGHT BE. ON A RESEARCH TRIP TO CHINA, ASHWIN SANGHI EXPLORES ANCIENT TIES TO INDIA, AND FINDS SIMILAR SENTIMENTS
Ashwin Sanghi
Kindred Spirits

I always knew that one of my books was going to be about the flow of knowledge and ideas between China and India. As is my usual pattern, I invested almost a year in my research: reading books, articles, and papers that would enable me to build the historical narrative around this ancient relationship. But once I was done, I knew that the final part of my research would be to visit the key places that figured in my story.

The first leg of the journey was on a flight from Mumbai to Beijing. Accompanied by my wife and son, we took a high-speed train to Xi’an, China’s ancient capital, and then another Hexie Hao gliding along at 350 km/hr to Luoyang. Our last stop in mainland China was Shanghai, from where we proceeded to Hong Kong and then back to Mumbai. The itinerary sounded strange to those who had already visited China; most people usually do the Beijing-Shanghai circuit and supplement it with Suzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu or Zhangjiajie. Others go to Huangshan, Guilin, Yunnan, Tibet or Xiamen. However, my route was not determined by tourist cities, but by specific locations that were part of the book’s narrative.

Much like India, China is a box of assorted chocolates. You could keep going because there is so much to see, and even after seeing much of it you would realize that there is a massive gap in what you’ve covered. So I divided my list of places into ‘must-see’ and ‘nice-to-see’, the former key to the narrative of my new novel and the latter only incidental to the story.

This story is from the February 2020 edition of Outlook Traveller.

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This story is from the February 2020 edition of Outlook Traveller.

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