Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby

Slowly Down the Ganges

On his forty-fourth birthday Eric Newby, a self-confessed river lover, sets out on a 1200-mile journey down the Ganges River from Hardwar to the Bay of Bengal, accompanied by his wife Wanda. Things do not start smoothly as they run aground 63 times in the first six days, but gradually India's holiest river, The Pure, The Eternal, The Creator of Happiness, lives up to its many names and captures them in its spell. Traveling in a variety of boats, ...

Details Slowly Down the Ganges

TitleSlowly Down the Ganges
Release DateSep 1st, 1998
PublisherLonely Planet Publications
GenreTravel, Cultural, India, Nonfiction, Asia, Adventure, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Humor, Literature, Travelogue

Reviews Slowly Down the Ganges

  • Magdelanye
    It has finally come to my attention that Eric Newby is reputed to be a humorist, representative of the stiff upper lip clan of droll understatement and inane comparisons. In fact, if you find ineptness and poor timing rather laughable, Slowly down the Ganges starts out rather hilariously and gives new meaning to the word slow.A lot of the book is taken up with the Newbys search for a boat. Loaded down with two tin trunks,valises and baskets, far ...
  • John
    I don't have a Did Not Finish shelf, as I usually don't review, rate, or otherwise note those. However, having found some of Newby's other work hilarious, I was almost amazed at how I had to talk myself into picking this one up each time. Tired of waiting for the interesting or really funny bits that never seemed to materialize.
  • Thaths
    Newby at his best. Erudite, well-informed, compassionate, cranky and eccentric travel writing.The first half of the book goes along brilliantly. Having recently visited some of the places mentioned in this part of the book, I found the description truthful (and funny).But I found the second half somewhat plodding. I found myself merely skimming over the passages of the last chapter on the tugboat journey from Calcutta to the sea. It is full of ma...
  • Zach Church
    Enjoyed this at first. Newby can be very funny while never being stupid. I also appreciated the snapshot of India pre-globalization and not too long after partition. But too much of it reads almost like a list of what he saw. For a journey that has a very defined start and end, it was absent any meaningful narrative structure. Perhaps that's his style, but by book's end I was long done.That said, far be it from me to too heavily criticize anyone ...
  • Jared
    i love this book, it would be one of the reasons that i went to india, except that i read it after i went to india, but things could have easily happened the other way around.
  • raul
    Re-read it last night. If you like bone dry british humor and travel writing Eric Newby is your guy.
  • jzthompson
    This seems to be 'catching a bit of heat' from the Eat-Pray-Love crew, who I guess are the usual market for travel books in India, but I absolutely loved this. The Newbys are always delightful company, and Eric is at his finest here. His matter-of-fact nature avoids all the usual travel writing cliches about Asia - neither doing a comic turn about the difficulties posed by food poisoning and public transport, dabbing a metaphorical hanky to the e...
  • Daren
    Eric Newby in typical Newby style. Never rushed and never over-excited.Probably one of the worst researched river expeditions written about - Who turns up near the headwaters of a river, planning to navigate its length, to find it in not a foot deep? Who continues to rent a boat, load it up and depart, only to be required to move rocks for the first 3 days in order to form a channel to allow the boat to be encouraged downstream a little.For a riv...
  • Eliot Boden
    The lack of background explanation for most of the places Newby visited made this a not-very-enlightening (no pun intended) book , and certainly not a very good introduction to India. To get the most mileage be prepared to Wikipedia lots of Hindu deities and events from the era of the British Raj. Also disappointing was the complete lack of research that went into this trip - Newby beings his journey in winter when the Ganges is at its lowest sta...
  • Robin
    I was disappointed that the writing was not as interesting as I would guess the journey was. Not enough about the on-the-water part of the journey. Not enough about the end of the journey - seemed like the author lost interest in his own story long before he reached Calcutta.
  • Bertie
    I suppose I should of judged the book by its title a little better. 'Slowly' is definitely guaranteed here. The 'Ganges' excited me but unfortunately the book did not. Nothing really happens in the story, not really - it's just Newby and his wife heading downstream in a boat with a few trials & tribulations kicked in, but nothing out of the ordinary. The book was readable and occasionally interesting, but not enough. Perhaps I just don't bode wel...
  • Charit
    Fascinating travel tale down the Ganges. This book is 50+ years old but has aged well. Newby’s observations of Hindu rituals and mythologies are hilariously described. Kudos to his wife for staying through on this trip.
  • A
    When I read this in my late teens I ploughed through but found it very tedious. I don't know whether I'd enjoy it more now or not. Perhaps the fact that memories of it have stuck with me says something good about it.
  • Scott
    "It is difficult to be funny in India," confesses Eric Newby after failing to secure an interview with an ascetic who, sprawled naked in front of the Benares post office, was reputed to eat dung and human flesh. In Slowly down the Ganges, Newby's account of his 1963 journey from Hardwar to the Bay of Bengal, the touches of humor that come through are too often labored or muted by the author's frustration in dealing with a culture so different fro...
  • Sharon
    Well I sort of read it half actually. At that point the slowness got to me and I flicked to the back to make sure they did get home. The ineptitude of anyone going to a country on a voyage like this and being so ill prepared just fascinated me, even if it was in the 60s. He was lucky he was so placid and that his wife didn't kill him half way round for getting her to go on a trip like this. It is all very stiff upper lip stuff but he does appear ...
  • Chuck
    I read Eric Newby's "A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush" which was a magnificent book about a trip to the western Himalayas which are now the home of the Taliban in Afganistan. This book combined humor, an exotic time and place and a look at a culture which has not changed in thousands of years. With this in mind I searched out this book which covered a trip in 1964 down the Ganges River with his wife beginning in the foothills of the Himalyas and en...
  • Jackie
    I was disappointed in this author. This book chronicles a trip down the Ganges in the mid 1960's. And, as Newby's trip was slow, this book is slow. I did not get from this book the colors and the life that I experinced in my travels in India. While the author makes a lot of the sights and sounds and smells, he does it in a way that feels like a complaint, not a description of wonder. He does not get it, India. Maybe it is his British heratige tha...
  • Ensiform
    Supposedly a tale of how he and his wife traveled down the Ganges in a variety of boats. More like how he and his wife traveled along the basic course of the Ganges in a variety of buses and trains. A very patchily written book, at times it would be fascinating - whether describing ancient history, the author's own reminisces, or the events of the voyage (which were also at times hilarious) - and at times it would just be page after page of pure ...
  • Vasha7
    This is an account of the author's journey (accompanied by his long-suffering but also adventurous wife) down the Ganges in 1963, in a series of small boats. Newby's a humorist, and one of his favorite tropes is likening something he sees to a pedestrian English sight like a hesitant bather on a pier, or "a party of revelers pausing to wonder where to go next", or whatever. That's effectively funny. I didn't expect much deep insight from this acc...
  • Jrobertus
    This travel narrative was writ ten in so much may have changed. It was informative but not really a good read. The author and his wife try to go by boat from Hardawar, at the foot of the Himalayas, to Calcutta by boat. This proves impossible. The first chapters tell of a horrible mess as their boat is grounded about 80 times. They meet filth, transience, bad foot, corpses, and cold (January) weather. Altho...
  • Jim Puskas
    For richness of local colour, this may be one of Newby's best works. One of the more engaging aspects of Newby's stories is that he seems intent on tackling situations that require more stamina and willingness to endure discomfort than any of us, his readers would be willing to accept personally. So his books offer vicarious pleasure for the armchair traveler, while enriching our understanding of parts of the world we may never reach. And of cour...
  • Dayanand Prabhu
    Eric Newby's journey down the Ganges is a little weird. Although I myself have travelled quite a bit, I am still not able to find the real reasons for coming to a alien country and trying to sail down a cruel river. That too with no plans whatsoever, sounds quite stupid. But as you read the book, his ignorance seems quite charming, because in the great unknown lies the romance of adventure and the comedy of tragedy. This book brings that out quit...
  • Scott Munden
    Newby remains one of my favourite travel writers. He's the funny and somewhat goofy Englishman abroad and each of his books are a joy to read. Of course, they were also written decades ago and many of the places he visits and writes about have changed significantly. Many of them have become no-go zones.
  • Judith Rich
    Poor Wanda.
  • Grace
    I thought this book was an interesting read, burst out laughing a few times at the recurrent mishaps and felt sorry for his wife Wanda all the way through. I imagined reading about a river would be boring but his descriptions were actually quite beautiful.
  • Maak Desai
    gives a clear picture of how India and ganges have changed over the years over its course.. the last chapter about their passage through hoogly was a bit too technical , but all in all, very informative .would love to read more of Eric's travel fantacies. He is funny.
  • Ben
    a pleasant enough read, i preferred, a short walk in the hindu kush.
  • Andy
    Humor was way to English bourgeois.
  • Amanda
    Continuing my fascination with Eric Newby, not my favourite of his books, but Newby continues to be as dry as pint of neat gin and very, very British.
  • Pippa
    This didn't really grab me, although there were odd moments that were delightful and amusing. It might have helped if I'd known more about India.