Interview with memoirist Kavitha Yaga Buggana

My
special guest today is
Kavitha Yaga
Buggana
to chat about her travel memoir, Walking in Clouds, A Journey to Mount
Kailash and Lake Manasarovar
.


During her virtual book tour, Kavitha will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes
and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be
entered for a chance to win, use the
form below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
her other tour stops
and enter there, too!



Welcome, Kavitha. Please
share a little bit about your current release.
My travel-memoir, Walking
in Clouds, A Journey to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar
, is based on my
trip to a mysterious mountain and a beautiful, tranquil lake in Tibet.  It’s a journey spanning ancient monasteries
and verdant Himalayan pine forests, freezing slopes and bright sunlight, exhaustion
and joy, sacrifice and gratitude.
Kailash and Manasarovar are deeply sacred to Hindus, Buddhists,
and others and as an atheist walking in these sacred spaces, I examine my judgements
about faith.

‘Walking in Clouds’ is also about people – my
cousin, who went on this journey with me, our fellow travellers from the world
over. The book examines faith, rationality, myth, Tibet’s deeply troubled politics,
the friendships formed, and the extraordinary landscapes of these places.
Interspersed
with striking photographs and a rich storytelling style, the book is ultimately a mediation on
beauty, faith, friendship, place, and journey, both the outer and inner. 
What inspired you to
write this book?
For my
cousin Pallu and me, the trip to Kailash and Manasarovar was an adventure we had
dreamed of since we were schoolgirls. I had no intention of writing about this
journey, but a year after my trip, I started working on a brief account of the
journey. The more I wrote, I realized, the more there was to write about the
wonder, tranquility and awe-inspiring beauty of the mountains and the enduring
faith of the people who live in there. That’s how my book was born.
Excerpt from Walking in Clouds:
In
this excerpt of Walking in Clouds, our
group has reached the first campsite at the foothills of Mount Kailash. Fellow travelers
Sperello and Jeff have both gone further up the slopes while the rest of us are
at the campsite with our guide, Chhiring.
A little while later, the tall figure of Sperello descends down
the path.
‘Where’s Jeff?’ Chhiring asks.
‘He should be down soon,’ Sperello says, his face pensive.
‘Something happened to Jeff in the mountain.’
When Sperello started up the slope, Jeff had already set out.
With each step, Jeff felt that he was moving forward but the mountain was not
getting any closer. Another step, Jeff told himself, one more step. But it
was no use; the mountain
seemed as distant as it had always been. At one point, Jeff stopped; he could
not walk any further. As he gazed at the colossus of rock before him, he was
shaken by a feeling that the mountain was rising from below, as if it were
moving, growing from the earth to the sky. An inexplicable emotion coursed
through his body, moving him so profoundly that he fell to his knees. Sperello,
who was taking photos in the vicinity, asked if everything was all right. But
Jeff could not speak. Still kneeling, he shook Sperello’s hands.
‘I
will never forget it,’ Jeff tells us later. He can’t seem to explain what
happened to him at that moment.
On
his travels, Jeff is always an observer. He is a photographer, a chronicler of
journeys, and a consumer of other cultures and geographies. But that day on the
mountain, everything changed. The lens was forgotten. The need to observe and
the process of thought vanished. Jeff was no longer an eye, watching and
noting; he was being and doing and feeling. The same man who, a few days ago,
had found it odd and eccentric that Mariene could meditate on the river bank
had been overcome by an immensity of emotion that had brought him to his knees.
He had been felled by a deeply spiritual experience that belonged only to him,
and to the mountain.
The
experience altered Jeff’s understanding of the world and of himself. The effect
this vision had on him and the questions it raised for him were a profound kind
of truth. Since ancient times, mystics of all religions have strived to
reconcile their spiritual experiences with the parameters of the physical and
material world. Many have come to understand that while reality and truth are
not always the same, they do not necessarily oppose or preclude one another.
The myths of Shiva, the lake and the mountain, Buddhist stories and visualizations,
the feeling of a mountain rising: none of these need be literal in order to be
considered truthful. Such moments simply point to a
truth as complex as the people who seek to understand them.

What exciting story are you working on
next?
I’m working on a book of short stories. They are all set in India, but that’s
about the only thread that connects them. The stories range from the light-hearted
(such as a story about a young man who wants to buy milk for coffee and finds
that everyone is gripped by the possibility of a milk miracle) to the introspective
(such as the story of a woman and a talking bird which discusses reality versus
perceptions of reality) to the socially sensitive (such as the story of a
missing servant girl, which is a commentary on life opportunities and economic
circumstances).

When did you first consider yourself a
writer?

After
I published a couple of essays and short fiction in literary magazines and in
newspapers.



Do you write full-time?
If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and
how do you find time to write?
I
don’t work full-time any more. When I’m not writing, I take care of family, I
read, I volunteer.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

I
keep mussing with my hair when I’m thinking deeply about issues related to
writing. At the end of the day, my hair looks like a nest.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

Pippi
Longstocking, the feisty redhead in the popular children’s books by Astrid Lindgren.
Anything additional you
want to share with the readers?
Walking in Clouds received some great
reviews in the Indian press. Here are some quotes:
‘[Kavitha’s]
mix of Oriental-Occidental wisdom can dot the readers’ minds with the spray of
sparkling Himalayan stars.’
Aman
Nath in Outlook Traveller Magazine, March 2019.
‘This
book is the most enjoyable I have read on the Mountain and the Lake.’
Deb
Mukharji, Author, Kailash and Manasarovar:
A Quest Beyond the Himalaya




‘Walking
in Clouds
 is not only [about] two
women’s extraordinary journey to the mountains, but rather an account where the
author has captured every moment of surprise, shock and despair in detail.’
Priyanka Richi, The Newsminute, 31st March,
2019
Links:
Thank you for being a
guest on my blog!
Thanks
for having me!

6 thoughts on “Interview with memoirist Kavitha Yaga Buggana

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Rita! I worked hard on the writing, so it has a lyrical quality and I worked hard to make it very tightly written. Kavitha

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