Friday, 7 December 2012

Non-Fiction Reads: The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara

This isn't a tale of derring-do, nor is it merely some kind of 'cynical account'; it isn't meant to be, at least. It's a chunk of two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams. In nine months a man can think a lot of thoughts, from the height of philosophical conjecture to the most abject longing for a bowl of soup – in perfect harmony with the state of his stomach. And if, at the same time, he's a bit of an adventurer, he could have experiences which might interest other people and his random account would read something like this diary.
- The diary introduction 

Who was Che Guevara? For starters, he was an Argentine-born Marxist revolutionary; the leader of Cuban and international guerrillas.

It was only in 1993 that The Motorcycle Diaries was published, more than 40 years after it was written.Translated from the Spanish, the book was also made into a  movie in 2004 by the same name.The present edition that is available in India: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey was released in 2003. 

In 1950, Guevara had done a 4500-km trip across Argentina on a bicycle with a small motor attached to it. In January 1952, Guevara and Alberto Granada, decided to take a one-year break from their medical studies and embark on a road trip they had been planning for a long time now. It was to be a road trip all over South America. Just like that. 

Granada's 1939 Norton 500 cc motorbike, nicknamed La Poderasa (The mighty one) was to be their companion. The book is a collection of notes Guevara wrote during the journey. The change in Guevara from a carefree young man to the person he finally became can be witnessed in these writings.

The narration is full of surprises though, of the various difficulties and the unexpected humourous situations that arise during the travel. Overloaded with luggage, 'The mighty one' suffers many crashes until finally becoming obsolete, halfway through the journey.

The duo spend nights in the house of strangers, get visited by a Puma and are almost done in by possible murderers. On the road, there is the extreme cold to contend with. New experiences greet the travelers at every bend. At the journey's end, the two people have changed and are destined to travel their separate roads.

(Article by Snehith Kumbla) 

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