Warren’s memoir is short on words but the pictures that fill the oversized paperback are fascinating. The blue mosque in Istanbul is glorious while the Roman ruins in Baalbek are haunting.
Reviewed by Robin Landry
From London to New Delhi by Car
By Dean Warren
ISBN: 1-4010-5156-1 (Picture Book)
54pgs, Book Format: Portrait 8.5 x 11
Presented in the style of a coffee table book, Dean Warren tells us with both full color pictures and a highly personal narrative of his journey in June of 1951 by car from London to New Delhi. Warren, a student of the London School of Economics and Harvard writes of his adventure in an easygoing style full of charming details of the various countries he motored through with fellow students. What follows is the day-to-day account of Warren’s trip from London through the Middle East, ending in India. The short memoir is filled with details of each city the trio visited, down to the type of food consumed to the condition of the roads the Ford Anglia was expected to negotiate.
Warren’s memoir is short on words but the pictures that fill the oversized paperback are fascinating. The blue mosque in Istanbul is glorious while the Roman ruins in Baalbek are haunting. It’s fun to see that even while on a road trip, and sometimes sleeping in the car, Warren wears slacks and Irene s a dress looking better dressed than most people today do when going out someplace special. Certainly a more innocent time, though for Warren and his friends, going from country to country could still present problems. Warren traveled with Irene Tinker a “pretty and enthusiastic” fellow LSE (London School of Economics) student who asked him if he’d like to join her for a summer car trip to India. Irene planned her thesis on India’s political institutions. Alan Day, an English lecturer in economics at the School, joined them to help pay for the car and daily expenses. Tinker’s main contribution to the trip seemed to be charming the locals in the each of the cities Warren and various other companions visited.
Tinker occasionally wrote articles that she sent to the Chicago Tribune. Meeting an Iranian feminist at the hotel the previous evening whose husband was the editor of a communist Tehran newspaper, Tinker persuaded the woman to take her into Meshed’s mosque, where the Moslems buried the holy 8th Imman. Tinker donned a “Shiri”, the black, cover-all veil, and strode with her female companion into the city. This was dangerous of course, and the year before a mob tore to pieces in an American vice-co sul for attempting to take a photograph in front of a mosque. Tinker claimed she pushed her way into the mosque glanced around at fanatics and then dashed out.
Afterwards, Tinker claimed that she was outraged by the submissive behavior dictated by the veil. In the city, her companion made her defer to all men by jumping into the gutter when a sidewalk became cluttered. The consul explained to Warren that, “If Tinker had been discovered, she’d have been messily killed and maybe us too.”
Warren was in charge of keeping the old Ford going, which was next to impossible with the condition of the dirt, rock-strewn roads the group had to travel. One time a hole was punched in the water pump and for two hours Warren sweated in the Afghan heat using rudimentary tools, he removed the water pump and by-passed it with a hose. Afterwards, the car was cooled thermally: the lower temperature water pushed into the engine by expanding hot water. Not recommended, Warren advised.
While in Afghanistan, Warren and his friends meet two members of the Afghani royal family; Ammanula and Abdul, one of whom spoke fluent English while the other knew fluent French. They invited Warren and his party into their room to drink vodka. Afterwards, the royals thoroughly washed the glasses so the servants wouldn’t know.
Reading Warren’s memoir made me nostalgic for both the class of the 1950’s and the innocence that he and his friends share as they drive with wide-eyed through a part of the world probably now considered.
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About the reviewer: Robin Landry started her career as a singer/muscian and played professionally for nearly ten years. Two unsuccessful albums later, the band broke up and she married and had a child. She then started writing first children’s short stories and then as her son and two step children grew, she started writing young adult novels and then some adult suspense novels. She is currently writing a screenplay for her step-daughter who’s in college to become a director. She is still looking for a publisher but stays busy in community service organizations and writing film and book reviews.