Paperback 210 pages
Published 1986 by Penguin Group
Who would have thought that I did enjoy the book I abandoned for almost three years!!! I knew I would enjoy it, but I felt reluctant to end my curiosity after I read the book, and felt a bit disappointed if I couldn't enjoy the book. Then, here I am, a bit teary after finishing the book. It is more than just Dahl's life when he was younger but much of my closer look at him as a my favorite writer, how he could get such imaginary sarcastic ideas of his books-- lol-- and how naturally witty he was, not just in his books.
Let me start from his old school, Repton, where he got his teen experience--from zero to hero (I can say that)--from being a greenie to sports athlete. His high school promised him to get promoted to some prestigious universities, however, he didn't take any of them. Instead, he assigned himself to Shell Company, far away from his family. His journey to East Africa took him two weeks from London. And here we go, his bizarre journey has started.
He was on voyage by a ship, when, early in the morning, he witnessed something peculiar, a naked man on the deck, prancing here and there. And look,he's not alone, a female figure joined him. Dahl recognized them as Major Griffiths and his wife. What a..... A Major? Hahaha.... Two other bizarre things followed. An elderly woman who never ate with her hands-never forgot to use spoon and fork/ knife. She always told herself that hands are sources of germs, and toes are disgusting and poisonous. They are like little worms sticking out of your feet. But who cared about the toes? We don't use our toes to eat, right? But, this Miss Trefusis kept saying that toes are reptilian and viperish. She even employed a boy to take care of her toenails. Wkwkwk... The last dotty man on the ship was his own cabin companion. Dahl observed him wearing a suit with some salt spread on his shoulder. What on earth he did it? Then, among other people, he boasted himself to get dandruff and recently get tired of it. Asking for effective cure, the man would carefully note it down. Still, what on earth he would do that? Dahl found out that the man was bald, and put various wigs with different length. Wigs? Well, he worked for Sikhs who respected men with long hair. Hair is something related to religious matters. There, he needed to get hair for the sake of respect. Other wigs were for Europeans respect. Ugh, why did he bother to even think about barbershop, dandruff and other stuff? Hmmm, anyway, he got his right to do such a thing for respect from different group. But, still, I couldn't help giggling for these three dotty figures...
As soon as Dahl got to his destination, he settled in Dar Es Salaam. There, he got a boy who would take care of him: sewing, mending, polishing your shoes and checking if there's a scorpion inside them, as return, you would have to take care of his family including his wives. Mdisho was Dahl's boy who then became his best friend. Mdisho was from Mwanumwezi tribe who loved war. Together with Mdisho, he had his life, an incredible life, if he didn't come to Dar Es Salaam. The place was amazing with natural dangerous beasts roaming around here and there, including Mamba-a snake. A dramatic scene took place when he encountered a mamba that was about to beat Mdisho. But the most dramatic one was when German declared its war with English. German people were scattered in Dar Es Salaam and that means they would fight the war there. Dahl went for leading a troop to stop German to get rid of the country (put them as military internees), and Mdisho went to slaughter a German who lived nearby... Apparently, Mdisho had different a point of view of a war and a murder!!
Since then, Dahl assigned himself as a pilot volunteer during the war. There were 16 volunteers that would fight for their country out of his country. Got trained, got a ticket to fly, got an accident and injured, got back to war, and got shot.... I knew I knew that Dahl would survive from the war since he wrote his autobiography forty five years later, but still, I got jumped of what he did. I'm amazed by how detailed he got in pouring his experience, how observant he got due to his surroundings and people around him, and how witty he was in his letter to his Mama in such situations.
Overall, reading Going Solo is like looking at Roald Dahl in different sides. Who would have thought that he flew his Hurricane in Britain Battle in World War II long before he wrote his books. His photos scattered in this book showing where he was, people he mingled with there, and how beautiful the place was before war and technology touched the country. It feels like watching black and white TV with our imagination included. This is going to be my lifetime favorite book :))