Suspected Hippie In Transit

Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll - and the Search for Higher Consciousness - on the International Trail, 1971-1977

Non-Fiction - Memoir
344 Pages
Reviewed on 10/08/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

When I was offered the opportunity to read and review this memoir by Martin Frumkin, I was none too sure that a hippie’s journal about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n' roll as he searched for a higher consciousness was my cup of java. None of those items ranked highly amongst my interests. But I cracked up when I read the author’s opening note stating that in 1976, Malaysia stamped the passports of Suspected Hippies In Transit with the acronym S.H.I.T. Frumkin hooked me with humor! I began reading and didn’t want to stop. What Frumkin shares in sometimes hilarious down-to-earth narration, brilliant heartfelt descriptions, and so many wonderful photos is both fascinating and enlightening. Between plenty of chillum and copious amounts of chai en route along the international hippie trail through India, Nepal, Burma, Afghanistan, and more, Frumkin trekked with a variety of companions and guides, recording his observations as often as time and health allowed. Frequent vomiting and dysentery weakened him physically, but mentally he was more alive than ever as he took in the wonders of the topography and the contrasting cultures between the cities and the mountains.

When I was recently stuck in rush hour traffic for 2 hours, my mind wandered to the peace and awe Frumkin experienced as he climbed “to the summit of a ten-thousand-foot “foothill” in Nepal and witnessed the beautiful “sight that astonishes and induces men to pause and become religious—the sight that gives rise to exclaim, “Nepal is truly God’s gift to the world.” How very different and more enticing was that world from the one I was now viewing through my car window! No wonder Frumkin advises readers early in his memoir to “get off your ass and smartphone and try it!” As limited as my travels have been, one thing I’ve concluded is that the only way to get to know a country and its people is by being there. No amount of watching TV documentaries or surfing Google Earth can fire up your emotions and imprint memories like first-hand experience. But when we can’t follow Frumkin’s “unsolicited advice” above, a superb book like Suspected Hippies in Transit is a recommended alternative.

Frumkin’s musings entertain. His photos fill us with the desire to see all he saw. His reflections and conclusions on Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, Zen, and religions in general, are enlightening. His collection of sayings that open the book, like “The superior man blames himself; the inferior man blames others” (Confucius) and so many other aspects of Frumkin’s memoir prompt us to set current world chaos aside and take time to reflect on just how lucky many of us are. This is definitely one of the best travel journal memoirs I’ve had the pleasure and honor to recommend.

Foluso Falaye

Would we have a safer, more peaceful world if everyone got to live among people in different countries and continents? Suspected Hippie In Transit takes readers through an American traveler's adventure and search for meaning in Asia fifty years ago—a time when there were no smartphones and notifications to distract one from the present. Martin Frumkin details his many unique experiences in first-person narration from joining a rowdy court case in Bombay to witnessing a ritualized animal slaughter in Nepal and journeying in "third-class Ceylonese box cars". As he learned about Eastern cultures and religions, Martin discovered the common message of love that was shared by different religious figures, like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, and Moses. Ultimately, Martin's rich experience of other cultures and lifestyles helped him grow as a conscious, empathic human.

The mind-blowing experiences and insights in Suspected Hippie In Transit made me feel like I won a lottery. Long after reading the book, images from the vividly described scenes kept popping up in my head—like the "Harleys, heat, beggars, cripples, crying and suckling babies" that were a part of the Dussehra Festival. The book is brimming with intriguing experiences and thought-provoking meditations that keep you glued to it from start to finish. As I experienced the scenes and cultures that the author did, I also got to know the thoughts and mindset of the person viewing them. If you're a travel enthusiast or a seeker of knowledge, you will love Martin Frumkin's book! I enjoyed it immensely because it opened my mind to the reality of humans in a different culture and time, making my own problems and worries seem considerably minor in comparison.

Sefina Hawke

Suspected Hippie in Transit (Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll - and the Search for Higher Consciousness - on the International Trail, 1971-1977) by Martin Frumkin is a non-fiction memoir that would appeal most to a diverse audience of mature young adults and adults with an interest in higher consciousness and/or travel journals who do not mind some f-bombs, drugs, and non-graphic sexual scenes. The author shares his own experiences as a true hippie-traveler who traveled throughout Asia as a backpacker fifty years ago. Are you ready to follow Martin Frumkin's pre-tech adventures and gain new insight into how people live in different countries?

Suspected Hippie in Transit by Martin Frumkin is a well-written book with a thought-provoking cover image that made me want to crack the book open the moment I saw it. I really liked the fact that the author decided to write it in journal form as it allowed me to not only gain some insight into the areas he visited on his travels but also into the author himself. I liked that this was not some conventional travel guide, but rather a travel adventure journal. I really enjoyed learning about the different cultures the author experienced and I really liked the feeling of freedom he experienced during his travels. Overall, this is an amazing read that makes me want to go out and travel and be able to have experiences just like the author did!

K.C. Finn

Suspected Hippie in Transit is a work of non-fiction in the memoir subgenre and serves as the first book in its series. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Martin Frumkin. The book recalls the author's early years backpacking along the hippie trail through countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan in the 1970s. As the journey gives rise to numerous unique experiences and touches on the spiritual cores of several cultures and religions, the author begins fusing together the wisdom learned on each leg of the journey in a quest to expand his understanding of the universe.

As a fan of traveling the world myself, I often enjoy reading people’s experiences of journeying across lands that I haven’t visited yet. This book takes me one step further by sharing not just a journey through a land I haven’t visited but a period of history I wasn’t around for. Author Martin Frumkin paints a vivid and engaging image of the 1970s as he begins his journey to better understand himself and his place in the world. It is in many ways a deeply personal journey that is being shared, and the author's willingness to share every detail of the experiences enhances the book greatly by elevating the personal investment in the places visited and the people he met. Overall, Suspected Hippie in Transit embraces the romantic idea of the vagabond as it depicts a fascinating journey for enlightenment and a better understanding of the world around us, creating in the process an unmissable travel memoir.

Vincent Dublado

Suspected Hippie in Transit: Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll - and the Search for Higher Consciousness - on the International Trail, 1971-1977 by Martin Frumkin relates the adventures of the author, a hippie who goes on an Asian journey to gain wisdom and experiences that are not accessible to most travelers. As an experiment in investigation, this travel adventure unfolds before your eyes in a diary format, where encounters with people and exotic locales have no expectations, just pure and unadulterated flirtations with philosophy, literature, music, and exercise in intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. Follow this perennial peripatetic from the great waters of Hinduism's pilgrim city to the dramatic vista of the Nepalese Himalayas to the striking tropical paradise of Sri Lanka.

Martin Frumkin is a sure testament to the big advantage that travelers have over mere tourists. He has enjoyed considerable fun and passion in his travels along the international hippie trail, judging from his activities, which hinged on the search for answers about existence complemented with experiments with euphoria. The world as his oyster is his gateway to Nirvana and his narrative in diary form makes it easy to keep track of a young man with enormous energy, intelligence, and a zest for the world he lives in. Suspected Hippie in Transit is very readable. It contains a great deal of excellent writing as Frumkin has a distinctive style that fuses the casual with philosophy, mysticism, and that hippie weltanschauung that you rarely get to read these days. Best of all, his adventure delivers what it promises when it comes to revelations with real importance and applicability. This is the type of travel writing that is truly entertaining and educational to read.