I had heard of Rudyard Kipling and his Jungle Book series but I had not read any book by him when I came across “Kim” and the picture on the cover attracted me. The picture of an old Lama with so many lines on the face as though they are telling tales of his getting old along with a kid who is curious about everything in life itself tells you that it is going to be an interesting book. This book is also considered one of the best 100 books of 20th century.
This is a story of Kim who is son of British parents but is orphan and lives a life of street kid in Lahore in late 19th century India. He came across an aged Tibetan Lama who is in quest of enlightenment and both of them take a journey on Grand Trunk Road. Kim is also doing some work for British Secret Service who were in conflict with Russians over central asia at that time after the Afghan war. The story has many twists and turns where Kim is identified and separated from Lama and sent to school but they meet again and go on another quest. The mix of secret service work that Kim is doing and the spiritual quest that Lama is pursuing is very interesting.
The important aspect of the book is in its detailed account of India at that time. Kipling has done a great job in describing the lifestyle, people, markets, roads, cities of that time. I have read some other books of similar genre like “The Far Pavilions” by M.M.Kaye and these books always excite me. I would rate Far Pavilions to be much better.
Of course, I was also very much interested in the city of Umballa (Ambala) which is an important milestone in journey of Kim. Reading about the city of 19th century was great because I myself have a very deep connection with this city.