About this book
Set against the backdrop of one of the most colourful countries in the world, A Glimpse of Eternal Snows is an inspiring story of courage, love and a family's determination to give their child the best life possible. In pulsating, polluted Kathmandu and an idyllic village at the foot of the Himalayas, 'Doctor Jane' and her engineer husband Simon hope to make a difference: Jane to fulfil her vision to heal and advocate for the poor, Simon to avert the floods that threaten to devastate the country every monsoon season. The Nepali people are accepting of whatever fate flings at them and here the family find sanity, compassion and joy with baby David, who in England was little more than an 'interesting case'.
This is a tale of Himalayan highs and monsoon lows, of cultural complexities, unexpected wildlife and rugged terrain, of vivid colour, superstition and spicy smells.
About the author
Press reviews'A story of adventure, colour and humanity - a celebration of life, beautifully written. David's differences are woven tenderly within the descriptions of the vibrant Nepalese culture and the family that adored him. It's a story of triumph and a glimpse of eternal snows.'
The Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland
'The proverbial life-changing book.'
Dr James LeFanu, The Daily Telegraph
"I've just read 'A Glimpse of Eternal Snows'. It is truly stunning. So many journeys in one book, physical, emotional, spiritual."
Mary Anderson, The Writer
'This is a moving but incredibly satisfying story, full of sadness and difficult choices.'
Good Book Guide
A Glimpse of Eternal Snows - A Journey of Love and Loss in the Himalayas
I met Jane Wilson-Howarth at a Globetrotters Club meeting in London in 2013. I recommend Globetrotters for anyone with an interest in travel.
We chatted briefly and I bought a copy of A Glimpse of Eternal Snows, more for the title and the front cover picture than about what I would read in it. Once home, I found out what the book was really about.
Only occasionally does one already know the ending of a story before starting to read it. Anything to do with the Titanic is an example. Absorbing and reflecting on what Jane had written were necessary between reading each chapter.
I once thought coincidence to be a positive, almost magical thing. I took a while to read the book because so many things in it had occurred to me or those I know, in very similar ways.
I had a sister born in 1944 who was what was then called a blue baby. For the first five years of her life, she was a delicate but otherwise healthy baby/child. It was shortly before her sixth birthday that it was decided she would be operated on to correct the heart defects; this was to be at Guy's Hospital in London, by one of the top surgeons at the time.
While it was expected that my sister would pull through the operation, it was not to be. She spent a few days in an oxygen tent before quietly dying.
Jane's forthright tales of her husband Simon's struggles to get his irrigation plans put into effect took me back to my years working in Lesotho in the 1970s. Apart from running a country hotel and working on a kimberlite exploration project, I was involved in the surveys for the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme. Both the geological and the water jobs involved living in small villages or in caravans or under canvas, with Land-Rovers and horses and mules for transport. It was not until decades later that the water scheme was completed; and no worthwhile new kimberlites were found.
Living and working in such conditions made one appreciate both what one had "at home", and how it is possible to get by on very little. Living with other cultures also opens eyes, both ways.
Alexander's "planting David" just shows how young minds think. And how different cultures use the same words differently; underwear in India (and, I imagine, also in Nepal) is, quite sensibly, innerwear.
Jane's straightforward way of telling what happened to her and her family during David's short life should be taken by other authors as how to present Kipling's two "imposters" triumph and disaster to a readership most of whom will never suffer such personal pain. It is a lesson both in how to treat the reality and how to tell about it to others.
(Posted on 19/09/2013)
1 Most Welcome to Rajapur 1
2 New Arrivals 6
3 Disease and Disaster 21
4 David-the-Interesting-Case 34
5 Escape to Sanity 49
6 David's First Trek 63
7 The Clever Doctors 82
8 Worse by Candlelight 95
9 A Proper Toilet 108
10 Exploring Our Island 121
11 Vultures 137
12 A Real Doctor 151
13 Arranged Marriage 163
14 Business as Usual 178
15 Dust Devil 189
16 Outsiders, Outcastes and Prostitutes 200
17 Dying for a Glimpse of the Cool Himalayas 207
18 The Hot Season 218
19 That's Life 230
20 The Gods Hear Better from Here 243
21 Blood Sacrifice 256
22 Poor Pooss Baby 266
23 Anniversary Party 280
24 The Wild West 291
25 Doctor Last-Ditch 300
26 Clinics for the Poor 309
27 School for David 324
28 New Home in Kathmandu 331
29 Over the Jalja Pass 338
30 Expats and Fireworks 349
31 David Stands Tall 356
32 Renewal 364
33 Departures 369
Afterword with an Explanation of the NHS 375
A Note on Nepali 378
Selected Bibliography 388