Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Book Review : 'There are No Gods in North Korea' by Anjaly Thomas
I keep reading about North Korea, but to read about it, from such a personal point of view and perhaps even feel it was another experience, all together. So, I began ‘There are No Gods in North Korea’. Reading this book; probably put me on another plane altogether.
It started off with the nation and all its repercussions. The people, the buildings, the scenery and the emotions came through those pages. It was like watching it ‘live’, especially when Anjaly Thomas wrote about the pretty people and only them. It left me with a sad feeling, and a wish to read up more on the subject. But that’s for later, for now we have the review.
Firstly, I should mention that this book is not just about North Korea. It runs across Mongolia, Uganda, Kenya, Nairobi and a bit of Middle East and China.
Democratic People Republic of Korea, though has democratic written in its name, it does not seem so. She writes about the people, who are not there and you see that they are living in a weird environment. Of course, there are rice fields and nature, and beautiful hills. The scenery seems so beautiful, but then when you are in the city, you do note that there is no power in the apartment blocks.
In the cities, only pretty people are present and that is how the country is presented to a visitor. This bit of truth is probably making its presence felt in the book.
Moving onto Mongolia is a brilliant move, or so it seems, for the reader or basically for me. I know sitting and reading here, I felt a little worried and almost relieved when the author left the country. But she does such an excellent job of writing about it…
Mongolia, with its wide open spaces and also the Gobi desert. Sounds like we just stepped into heaven? You wonder at the horse riding and the feeling of ‘the only person in the world, I would ride these horses to a far place, stand on the hill tops and fill my lungs with air, lie among the flowers and grass and sand and sing in the fresh Monglian air….’. That is the best bit, you feel (or at least think it), as if you are going with Anjaly, among the hills.
And Genghis Khan is a hero, here. With half the stuff having his name as a brand name, and paying with his face, since that is how the Tugrik or local currency is, and one gets local beer too, with his name as a brand! :)
Then onto Uganda and its chipathis. Idi Amin, who was the third president of
Uganda, and ruled from 1971 to 1979, apparently managed to chase away the Indians, but could not get rid of the chipathis!!
Also, do read about the Kabaka and his wives. Anjaly, who just about escaped this part: ‘if the Kabaka sees you or any woman here and he likes her, he can take you as his bride. You will get a dowry’.
There is also a trip to The Nile, which should be read and the trip to Kampala! Because, you do want to read about the coffee shop called ‘1000 Cups of Coffee’, don’t you?
We move on to Turkey, and try couch travelling. Then, the amazing breaking of plates, followed by a saucer and even spoons! You are surprised to read, about the people following a tradition to make the guest feel welcome. We go onto Istanbul, and read of the odd adventure of a wonderful looking coat and about Orhan Pamuk’s museum. Now way linked, other than being from the same place…
Onto China and the chopsticks! From there, we then travel to Kenya and Nariobi, where we meet a few rhinos. I want to write more, but I know that this is a review and my experience is how Anjaly Thomas enjoyed it, and it must stop.
It was a good ride, and even though I read it in the comfort of my own home, the author Anjaly Thomas gives you an honest perspective, with the touch of humour and an understanding of nations, truly travelled. I do not consider it as a travel piece, more like an adventure extravaganza. I did not miss the usual photographs, because the telling was so good, that one doesn’t feel the need for them.
Once in a while I was prone to smiles, which I have kept up through the reading and reviewing of the book, so please forgive me, if they do bother you! And also, the fact that I felt like I was travelling myself, literally!!
You can Buy the Book, right here.