The Penguin book of Indian journeys, edited by Dom Moraes

The Penguin book of Indian journeys, edited by Dom Moraes is a collection of travel essays. It includes essays by some of the best known travelers, writers and journalists like Paul Theroux, Ruskin Bond, Mark Tully, Anita Nair and Bruce Chatwin.
As the name suggests, it is a book of journeys and not just travel. Every story is a unique experience that deals with a different emotion. It is only once you start reading that you realize it is a kaleidoscope, of the colors and contradictions that make India what she is, uneven, unequal and mystic.
The stories emphasize the diversity of India, from the hills of Darjeeling to the beaches of Pondicherry and from the urban noveau riche to the bare existence of indigenous tribes.
Some of those will leave an impression:
  • "Death lives in Varanasi" talks about the many people whose search for strength to cope with personal losses and a quest for inner peace brings them to the Ganga.  
  • "City of Widows" delves deep into the dark, desolate and hopeless lives of the widows in Vrindavan. 
  • "Bandit king and the Movie star", covers the events around the kidnapping of Rajkumar, leaving you feeling a sense of deja-vu. 
  • "Mela madness" captures the the sheer variety, madness and accompanying flavours of a village mela. 
  • "Reports from Orissa" speaks out the grim present and depressing future faced by the cut-off area, a victim of ambitious electric plants and one of the most backward districts in India.    
Overall, the tone is always a little glum, which I have come to believe is typical of most stories and travel essays about India, shooting off dark humour, painting a picture of despair and making India appear a nation of people who are hoping against hope for a better tomorrow.

Did I enjoy this book? - Yes, for the style of writing, the insights, the perspectives and the variety.
Would I recommend this book? - Recommended if you genuinely love India for the way she is: uneven, unequal and mystic and can take all the consequences and contradictions of all this with a pinch of salt.

Most of these essays were written between 1970 and 2001. Are they still relevant in modern India? That is for you to find out :)


As we arrived at Cherai, after a back-breaking 6 hour journey from Munnar (all thanks to the traffic), and I negotiated the stay, this is what Sheetal and Aadi were busy taking photographs of:
Come morning and it gets even better. 

When your backyard looks like this... 

 And a 20 feet road is all that separates you from this...

You know that its going to be a special holiday. And that is exactly what Cherai turned out to be. Cherai, on the Vypin island in Kochi boasts not only of a clean and pristine beach almost 10 km long, but also of close proximity to the backwaters (and if you stay where we did, at the Renai Blue Waters, it is right behind you). 

The 1.5 days we spent here were the laziest and best we have spent in a long time. The beach, the lawn at the rear overlooking the backwaters and the swimming pool kept not only us, but the little one busy as well, right through the day, giving us time for little else to write about!

Happy new year!

Yet another year has gone by. While it was not uneventful by any measures, it definitely left us a lot of warm and special memories. Our first trip to Kerala was definitely one of our best ones till date, read a huge number of books of various genres and authors, followed more blogs that humanly possible, day-dreamed more than night-dreamed, became aware of the carbon footprint I was creating and the weight that I was gaining. :D  
But I will not use this space to recap the year that went by (I am a very private person when it comes to personal memories :)). I thought I would revive my blog with the rather serious (and amusing) resolutions that I have been considering over the last 3 days. Here I go:
1. For every time that I use the lift, I will use the stairs twice.
2. I will travel wisely/prudently.
3. I will take shorter coffee breaks and longer post lunch walks at office. One will ensure I am being more productive, while the other will ensure that I get plenty of sunshine.
4. I will read the hindi newspaper at home, improving my reading speed (carry over from last year, or was it the year before that? Never mind!)
5. I will visit atleast 1 new/novel place within Bangalore every month. Before December, I did not even know there was a Tipu's palace in Bangalore :(
6. I will buy a cycle (Wishlist!!!)

Is the the complete list? Of course not!!!