India Charm Offensive
In Michael Sobotta’s eBook India Charm Offensive we enjoy a triple feature: excellent writing, many fascinating stories, and learning the rich first-hand experience of an American contract helicopter pilot. The book consists of fifty-eight short chapters; most are stand-alone stories yet they are continuous like a serial television show. Sobotta starts his stories as a contract helicopter spotter for schools of tuna fish in the South Pacific for a Korean fishing vessel. This, itself, is absorbing. Eventually, he had to break his contract due to poor machine maintenance, and he declared his ship unsafe to fly (the helicopter crashed shortly after). But there were no shortages of work, and he chose his next contract in India, working for a helicopter company for a year, contracted by local paramilitary forces. The job was fascinating and dangerous. They were fighting the Maoist-Naxalite problem in southeast India, and shooting at helicopter was expected, should they fly low enough to be within reach. Landing in remote camps was never without risks pilots certainly earned their pay.
Sobotta describes the scores of his experience in India outside work: chaos, congestion, confusion, potential organ smugglers, but also beauty and lasting friendships, in particular with an Indian business professor, Anika. Nevertheless, the author sorely missed cold beer, pizza, hamburgers, and apple pie. He never got tired of seeking out cold beer, no matter where he ended up at night. He was fortunate enough to take side trips on his own: Philippines, Thailand, and the ancient ruins of India, among others. During his contract, he had to fight Indian Bureaucracy constantly, and without the help of his Indian counterparts, he may not have been able to overcome these: even for simple tasks like filing his flight plans appeared insurmountable at first. Two location maps at the beginning are helpful, yet a travelogue is never complete without a few dozen photos readers will miss these.
|Page Count||367 pages|
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