The first was "Two Middle-aged Ladies in Andalusia": a wonderful account of one middle-aged lady (Chetwode) and her trusty (and equally middle-aged) mare exploring Andalusia in the l960s. Chetwode came across as a no-nonsense woman whose sense of humour redeemed many a peculiar situation she encountered in a remote and almost savage country, with its primitive peasant population and inns evidently medieval in their crudity!
I saved up the second book so that I could savour it slowly, it was an account of one of my most favourite parts of India: Himachal Pradesh. "Kulu: The End of the Habitable World" turned out to be a treasure trove of information, recording not just details of temple architecture of the region, but also a sound knowledge of local customs. Today, many a critic accuses Chetwode of adopting a British Raj attitude, but wasn't she only a product of her times, possessing all the good and bad qualities that went with it? The book essentially recounts Chetwode's journey through Kulu in the 1960s, a full thirty years after she had left India and is a must-read for anyone who loves this region.
Penelop Chetwode's story can be found on my friend Nityin's blog A Taste Of Life. It makes as interesting reading as do her books!
Quite by accident, then, I found myself tracing the route she had taken almost five decades ago: going from Fagu to Ani to Khanag to Jalori, passing through Sojha to head for Banjaar.
In the garden of the PWD guesthouse in Khanag, I found these two interesting memorial stones. Having become somewhat familiar with Chetwode's story, I would love my epitaph to read as hers does: "She died in these hills she had loved so long".