July - September  2008



 The current issue



 Muraqqa - Imperial
 Mughal Albums

 Gold Rush
 for Indian Art


 NR Narayana Murthy

 London's Top 3
 Indian Restaurants

 Mango Coolers

 Apa Sherpa - 18 times
 on Mt Everest

 Photo Essay
 South Asian Scots

 The Royal Bengal


 Jantar Mantar

 Saving Himalayan

 Buddhas of Ladakh

Real Life
 Punjabi Dawakhana

 The Open Road



 the print gallery

 the art gallery

 gurgaon property










   about us              back-issues           contact us         search             data bank


  craft shop

print gallery


The Open Road

- The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

by Pico Iyer

"I was intrigued by the quiet revolution he (the Dalai Lama) was promulgating, challenging us to see politics, globalism, celebrity itself, in a larger and more spacious light" – Pico Iyer


Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Pub. Date: March 2008
List Price: $24

Reviewed by Nalini Chibber

I first chanced upon Pico Iyer’s name and ‘Video Nights in Kathmandu’ at Hatchards on Piccadilly. The name intrigued me – Iyer I could associate with – but not Pico. I guess I picked up the book as much for the name ‘Pico’ as its title. It was a fun book – I enjoyed it – smart words in crisp English!

This spring I read ‘The Open Road’ – haunting, engaging, and subtle – a complex Pinot Noir compared to the youthful Beaujolais ‘VNK’.

A travel writer, a journalist, a novelist, an essayist – Pico Iyer has evolved in this order – as a thought-provoking writer. ‘The Open Road’ is about the 14th Dalai Lama – and his global journey. It is not just a biography – it is Pico Iyer in his journalistic element. This time it is not smart words but smart thoughts and ideas that captivate the reader – both Dalai Lama’s and Iyer’s – a very heady pairing.

Iyer has de-layered the Dalai Lama’s persona and mind and handled his subject with great sensitivity, intelligence, and more importantly, integrity. He introduces us to Dalai Lama the Mystery, the Monk, the Globalist (not in terms of global marketplaces but inner and true globalism), the Scientist, the Politician, the Leader, the Traditionalist, and the Realist. Iyer’s elegant prose is infused with his keen observations on Dalai Lama and those around him. "I was intrigued by the quiet revolution he was promulgating, challenging us to see politics, globalism, celebrity itself, in a larger and more spacious light, and I was interested to examine all the challenges and questions his experiments entailed", says Iyer, who has known the Dalai Lama for more than thirty years – and maintained an ongoing dialogue with him throughout. The Dalai Lama’s humane side is common knowledge but his human and private face is what Iyer has written about – the paradoxes that define him. His Holiness has a doctorate in metaphysics and is known to keep a plastic model of the human brain on his desk, with labelled and detachable parts – and is also steeped in religious rites. He meditates for hours during the course of a day and urges forbearance toward the Chinese and is intrigued by technology.

The book keeps the reader riveted and absorbed as Iyer, throughout the text, shares the essence of his experiences acquired through his global travels and time spent with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

A highly readable book – engaging, eloquent and reflective.

Star rating: Five (highest)




Read the entire story in the July - September 2008  print edition of

The South Asian Life & Times

Annual subscription Rs 500 (India)

US $40 or GBP 20 (Elsewhere)

To subscribe, write to




Copyright © 2000 - 2008 []. Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.