Relationship On The Road, Relationship With The Road
Story Behind Devapriya and Saurav (The authors)
A couple of writers and a writer couple, that’s how they describe themselves. Devapriya is a Literature and Natyashastra student, on the other hand Saurav talks energy and politics on IBNLive. Somehow they jelled together in matrimony and in adventure, shrugged off the idea of settled life like a soiled overcoat, and strapped on two backpacks instead to dig out the Indian-ness from the soils of India.
The Heat And Dust Project and its Inspiration
Think “very very tight budget travel experiences” and put that in three books, that’s the trilogy that will be the Heat And Dust Project. It started with the couple finishing their individual books around 2009, leaving their jobs and relocating in Calcutta. Soon restlessness kicked in and it coupled with the angst of going through the ‘respectable’ family chores(read work) and nuances. The pull to find answers on the road had the djinn’s enamour.
“We were the usual: nine-to-sixers, investment-makers, mall-goers, office-trippers and city-slickers. We were life-going-to-seeders.
Then we came up with an insane idea.
Everyone thought we were mad to put all our eggs in one basket: the idea of a transformational journey through India. On a very, very tight budget. We went ahead anyway.
This book (Heat And Dust Project) is the story of what happened then.”
It loomed as a Che Guevara’s The (Without) Motorcycle Diaries and soon three journeys were made (or should we say infinite?). In the first phase of the Heat And Dust Project (2010), they travelled through Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Western UP and Paharganj. During the second phase, they went through the length of India from Delhi to Kanyakumari and then back up the Coromandel Coast, then Chennai. In the third phase (2011) of journeying they backpacked through Uttarakhand, Himachal, Haryana and Punjab. The first book of the series – “Heat And Dust Project” – chronicles the first phase of their travels, the second book chronicles the second and the third and the last book in the series will consist of travels through Eastern and Northeastern India which are yet to be undertaken.
Heat And Dust Project – Book over blog/vlog/twitter feed
It was always a book for them, right from the beginning (conceived as one, it grew to three!). So why a book? The difference that they found between blog, live feeds or videos and book is the maturity of an idea that can take place in the latter. Writing a book is a personal process, an unraveling in itself, and the narrative grows to become more beautiful an expression.
Videos and live feeds are about the “now-ness” of a moment. But that does not mean that the writers eliminated dynamics from the whole process. The old book which only engages its readers once it has been published got a 21st C makeover. An ordinary book no more it became a dynamic book with the help of the Facebook community, that gathered around The Heat And Dust Project Page, pitching ideas and suggestions along the journey of the travellers and now it is almost a micro-forum-site.
Instances from their literary and literal journey
After journeying almost half the chunk of India when the couple found only 167 Rupees surviving in their account, agony hit them and life became seemingly tough. Their publisher for the Heat And Dust Project arrived with a cape(or white wings and a wand) and after listening to their travel lore, doubled the advance. A sigh of relief.
The most exciting literal stories are in the book which you can buy (buy!) but the writers confide how parties during their time in Paharganj made a worthy cultural confluence.
Well, they were always voracious readers. Their literary reading reflects in their writing, as parts of the book are influences of or dedications to their favorite poets and prose. “The epigraph to the Girnar section is from Robert Svoboda’s Aghora. The chapter on Barmer, ‘How to Survive Madna’ is, in a way, a tribute to Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August, while we use Ismail Merathi’s lines from a famous essay by India’s greatest coolest traveler-writers ever: Rahul Sankrityayan.
Sair kar duniya, ki gaafil zindagaani phir kahaan?
Zindagi gar kuchh rahi, toh naujavaani phir kahaan?
Wander the world, ay drifter, where will you get this life again?
And even if life remained, where would you find this youth again?
(Quoted by Rahul Sankrityayan in his famous essay ‘Athato Ghumakkad Jigyasa’)”
Two people with an idea for themselves have redefined travel for many who follow their articulate escapades. See how a tiny local step resulted in a global footprint? Hungry for their travel lore? Buy now!
You can follow their ongoing and forthcoming adventures on their Facebook group here.