Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Travel Companions

To answer an oft asked question re my recent travels - "Weren't you lonely?" - I'd say...
"No, I had my thoughts, my dreams.... and my books!"

Being on so many planes, trains and all sorts of automobiles travelling from city to city, country to country, I had an amazing amount of time to indulge in my very favourite of passtimes - reading. I certainly didn't plan it, but somehow all the books that I read over the 4 months of my travels somehow connected back to me and my life at that point in time.

In Scotland I read Night of Rain and of Stars and Circle of Friends both by Maeve Binchy. The former was the story of a group of people - all travellers - who's chance meeting in a small Greek cafe impacted the course of their lives. In London, Ajit loaned me Holy Cow author Sarah MacDonald's true storyof the 3 years she lived in India exploring India's religions and peoples in her quest to better understand who she is.

In Bombay, I raided Sanch's bookcase and besides catching up on my fav Enid Blytons, Chalet Schools and Agatha Christies, I also read Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy the story of 4 interconnected families who's lives are complicated by marriage, babies, culture, politics and the occassional communal riot or two. Set in the era of a newly indepentant India, the book mesmerised me and kept me company right though my Rajasthani adventures.

After that, I moved on to Love in the Time of Cholera a masterpiece by Gabriel Garcia Marquez that made me understand that love is indeed timeless and ageless. My next read was Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a funny, sad and very touching story of an autistic boy trying to make sense of his world that is suddenly turned up-side-down by the death of the neighbour's dog.

I re read R. K Narayan's Malgudi Days and laughed and cried for the simplicity yet complexity of the characters and their stories. Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide and The Glass Palace both took me to places in India I rarely thought about, and situations I previously hardly gave heed to.

And finally, I took with me to Japan Suketu Metha's Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found a birthday present from my cousin Ritchie. I lost myself in the pages as the author explored Bombay - her streets, her politics, her underworld, her highs and her lows. I was both thrilled and repulsed by the author's findings about the city. It seemed so bleak and outlook for so wonderful a place. In the end I understood, as hopefully the author wanted - that to have a true love affair with this city, one must be prepared for all the ups and downs that every relationship has to offer. And I did.


Timorous Beastie said...

It's wonderful to look back on a trip and remember the book you were reading. The two seem to become plaited together, so that one reminds you of the other.

Anonymous said...

You constantly amaze me! I too, love reading books while I travel and always pick books that some how connect to the place. You seem to have picked some wonderful combinations and share, here, the essence of each book so beautifully....
I know I keep saying it, but you HAVE to do something combining your travel writing and book reading ....I really enjoy reading your thoughts.

Your penguin pal

The Pixy Princess said...

Yes indeedy Beastie!
PP - thanks for the rah rah. Your comments made my day!

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