I’m a sucker for travelogue stories about individuals going off to exotic locations with the best of intentions, only to become the student upon their arrival. That was certainly the feeling I got from Trollope-Kumar’s first person experience in Cloud Messenger.
As a Canadian medical student, Karen Trollope-Kumar went to India to study social and preventive medicine and met a young pediatrician named Pradeep. His dream of working in the Himalayan foothills captured her imagination, and the man captured her heart. They married in a Hindu wedding ceremony and pledged to share a life of service and spiritual growth.
In this poignant, heartwarming, and gently humorous memoir, Karen recounts an eleven-year chapter of their unusual lives. She and Pradeep worked as medical doctors in the Himalayas, first in a rural hospital and later in remote mountain villages. When disaster struck — an assassination, an earthquake, a political crisis — their ideals, their safety, and their relationship are put at risk.
The story is insightful and the writing is detailed, but more importantly, there’s never a sense of the “white savior” who’s come to the region to make the ignorant peasants learn the “right” way of caring for themselves. I felt the author’s reasons and actions were realistic, believable, and more importantly, well-intentioned. It was a delightful, enjoyable, but instructional read.