I am not very fond of travelogues, but some do make for interesting reading. The author of this book, Lalitha Balasubramanian, had written a travelogue that featured some of the temples of Kerala. I liked reading that, and thus decided to pick up this book too, the author’s next offering. I loved the cover art too.
‘That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.’
At times, there’s nothing more relaxing than traveling. The heart gets tired of seeing the same things over and over again, and wishes to explore the unseen, hear the unheard and experience something new. Someone who is stuck in the city for most days of the week may prefer to venture out of it, and seek the sounds of nature, or the calmness of a village. Of course, there are occasions where one would seek out the warmth and familiarity of an old, treasured memory.
Books help us to travel without actually leaving the place where we’re reading it. It’s even truer when the book in question is a travelogue. Like some books are found in the most unexpected of places, I found this one hiding between two reference books at the library. I might have let it pass by, but for the author. Khushwant Singh is a name known to most book lovers in India, and one who I have enjoyed reading. I hadn’t read a travelogue from this man, and I thought it might be a worthy read.
Through the book, the author takes me along to many places, some which I know and some which I don’t. Most of the places are new to me. From Minicoy Island, one of the few inhabited islands in Lakshadweep, to Norway and Italy, I travel without leaving my desk. Even small observations help to build a picture of the place in question.
“What I like most are the beauties of nature: mountains, forests, lakes, fast-moving rivers, sea-sides in all climates, and at all hours of days and nights. You may not share all my passions, and may find repeated references to them somewhat boring. I crave your forgiveness.” He writes so in the prologue. I share those passions with him much, and whenever I travel, I do like to head to those places which have the beauty of nature, but yes, maybe a lot of them in one book might have pushed away some of the interest I have. But that’s acceptable perhaps.
Is there a Khushwant Singh charm to the writing? Absolutely, without doubt there is. It appeals to me in the sense that it adds to my knowledge of these places he visits. But it won’t serve any purpose sitting on my bookshelf when its tales would appeal more to another, possibly someone who has visited or might visit these places.
|Title: Sights and Sounds of the World|
|Author(s): Khushwant Singh||Genre: Travel|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9788187478256||Publisher: India Today|
|No. of Pages: 295||Price: INR. 250|
(© 22nd April 2015)
“Not all those who wander are lost” – JRR Tolkien.
But what if you did want to get lost? Lost from the mundane life that you feel you are leading. Would a nice wander help you out then? Maybe exploring the unexplored, learning a new language or traveling to the places you might not have visited? If you did it often, would you do it over again?
When the protagonist learns a bit of Tamil and starts to use it at his office, his colleagues do a test run and pack him and his Tamil off on a bus for him to explore a bit of the country. Thus begins his thirst for wandering, and the start to his story. It is his love for the unexplored that makes him decide not to visit the same place again. And one fine weekend, his journey takes him to the small, mostly unheard of village of Palayar.
His visit there brings about a clash between his scientific mind and the more unsubstantiated, belief driven ideals of the village people. What he does out of curiosity ends up violating some moral or religious belief of the priests or the people he meets there. He’s surprised but not totally unhappy at meeting someone who knows English, and has fun with him. Unfortunately for him, even that educated person is someone who strongly believes in what the protagonist feels is a myth. The events come to a boil when the protagonist decides to return home, taking refuge in whatever means of travel a Sunday night can provide him with.
The book starts off quite slowly and builds up to the particular weekend of travel. It’s a bit tedious at the start, but once the fated trip begins, the story takes off and enters a nice enjoyable pace. The tone of narration is casual, at times even too casual.
“It is always easier to hang on to some convenient make-believe truth than to search for an absolute one.”
The protagonist brings a nice memorable line, also comparing himself (at that point trying to argue against the possibility of paranormal entities) and Sarvana (who is adamantly defending what legends he has been taught and brought up with). The argument which is a more known one (science v/s religion) is interesting to read, especially the legend behind Palayar and Luganar, but sometimes feels a bit humorous as well. I liked the thrill of the return trip too, but I wouldn’t say the experience was horrifying to read, and I could guess the ending. The setting being rural Tamil Nadu, the author uses some regional words in the narration. I feel it is apt for the story and makes it feel realistic, but on the flipside, the words may not be understandable to those who don’t know the lingo.
I would recommend this read for a short journey, as it can be finished in a few hours at most. It will entertain, even in its simplicity. Congratulations to the author and the publisher for their debut.
Why should you read it?
Entertaining, simple read written in a casual tone that can keep you engaged, giving you both thrill and laughs.
What you may not like…
The start is tedious and the end somewhat guessable. Those unfamiliar with Tamil may find the regional words out of place.
Title: Lucifer’s Lungi
Author: Nitin Sawant
Price: INR. 120
(3rd June 2014)