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After the COVID-19 shutdown began in mid-March, our local public library closed. Instead of going to the library once or twice a week, I had to look on our shelves for books to read.

After three of our four parents died in 2010-11, we brought books from both of their two homes to ours. I found a few travel books on the shelf and checked their publishing dates. I chose William O. Douglass, Beyond the High Himalayas (Doubleday, 1952), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1953.

Supreme Court Justice Douglas rode a donkey named Moti or hiked along the Indian border with China and the Soviet Union. His visits to small kingdoms gave me a broader view of the world. In his Foreward, Douglas gives an overview of his itinerary:

“I went first to Afghanistan, were I visited Kabul, the capital, and then turned north and crossed the Hindu Kush by the Shibar Pass, dropping down to the ancient Buddhist town of Bamian. Then I retraced my steps to Kabul and returned to West Pakistan over the Khyber Pass, stopping at the city of Peshawar.

"From there I went north to the Kingdom of Swat for a brief visit. Then I flew the western stretch of he Himalayas to Gilgit and took some trips into the area that stretches along the Sinkiang [Xinjiang province, China] border. These journeys preceded the long trek I made on foot and by pack train from Manali to Leh in the Indian Himalayas." (Foreward, 9)

This book offered me a wonderful alternative to being stuck at home.

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