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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Review : 'Immortal' by Krishna Udayasankar

Okay, there have been issues, such as no specs, so no reading and no staring at laptop, either. Then, no television, and really not much money, thanks to India’s current economic background. Well, it’s partly over now, just partly!

Oh well, but I do have the ‘Immortal’ review, thanks to Krishna Udayasankar. Firstly, she begins with my favourite topic, which is ‘Mahabharata’ and weaves a brilliant story, using one of the main characters, Ashwatthama

In a brilliant move, the author has converted Ashwatthama into Professor Bharadwaj, a historian. The man, who cannot die, since he is so cursed, begins this adventure and pulls us along on this super cool joyride. After reading up about Ashwatthama in so many happenings and strange occurrences, it was nice to see an entire book, written about the man, who is not dead yet. :)

After many lives and events, this man can proudly claim experiences and adventures, like no one can. But, during this particular period, he does have a Manohar and a Maya Jervois to keep him company along the way. The author does touch upon Indiana Jones, but does not dwell too much on him, thereby giving the character, a whole new understanding.

Firstly, it is all about how the historian is called upon by Manohar, to help in searching for a historical object. This particular artefact is known as the Vajra and though it has been searched for by a lot of people, be they scientists or historians, it has never been found. But, Maya has something up her sleeve, which is why the professor agrees to look for it.

The three set off to find it, and you do too, as you walk across Gujarat’s
Krishna Udayasankar
shorelines, even Dwaraka and across the Nilgiris, and even the deserts in Pakistan. To solve puzzle after puzzle, which is more daunting than the previous one, these characters, are hell bent on solving all of these quests. Villains, sages and legendary souls, they all seem to be a part of this undertaking and they are out to either solve it and gain it or destroy it, altogether.

A little bit of action, on bikes, cars and the guns, each more mind-boggling than the earlier ones, make this book a complete mytho-adventure. Krishna Udayasankar is back, and I would be particularly pleased with future Ashwatthama adventures and mysteries. :)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Author Interview : Anjaly Thomas, author of 'There are No Gods in North Korea' (Part 2)

Read up, Part 2 of the Interview with Anjaly Thomas, author of 'There are No Gods in North Korea'. 

In this, she tells us if she always travelled solo, and what inspired her to do it, the biggest lesson, positive or negative she has learnt from travelling solo, the top three essentials she needs for travelling and her future travel plans, and much more, Folks…

Do you always travel solo?

Yes! Because that’s what I do best!
I end up making friends from all over the world, which is just as well, because through them I get to learn so many new things.

What has inspired you to start travelling solo?

I don’t really think there was a moment when I said to myself, ‘now, I should travel solo’. No, such an earth-shattering moment never happened.

I have never really thought about it. But I know for a fact that if it is travel, solo is how I’d like to go! Not that, I am averse to company, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

How has your way of thinking changed since you first started solo travelling?

I am not sure what that means – the fact that I travel is a definitive indicator that I don’t think the normal way, my choice of destinations or experiences goes to show that I am open to ideas and suggestions and anything new and different.

You tell me, what does that say about the way I think?

Are there any spots in the world you haven’t visited but want to?

 Oh yes, lots of place I haven’t visited but I want to.

What is the biggest lesson (positive or negative) you’ve learned through solo travel?

The biggest lesson, is that you only have yourself to depend on – no matter when you are or what you do, if you are not looking after your mental, physical or intellectual well-being, then you aren’t doing much in terms of doing a ‘fab’ job of anything!

Anjaly Thomas
Have you felt ever lonely being a solo traveller?

Nope. Never. Alone, yes, but never lonely.

Have you ever run low on money during your tour?

Nope. I have been fortunate that way.

What are the top three essentials that are part of your luggage?

Essentials are always the passport and money and no, there is nothing that I cannot travel without, except the two most important things – passport and money.

What are your future travel plans?

My future plans are plenty, but I never really plan that far ahead or make a ‘bucket list’.

I would rather leave it to the future to decide where I will be heading or let the moment decide what I’d like to see next.

You can read the First Part of this Interview right here, Read the Review here and Buy the Book  here, as well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Author Interview : Anjaly Thomas, author of 'There are No Gods in North Korea' (Part 1)

Anjaly Thomas
Read up, the Interview with Anjaly Thomas, author of 'There are No Gods in North Korea'.  In this she tells us how she manages to travel across different countries, how she ends up planning the whole trip, and also how the travelling changed her view of the world or not and what inspired her to start writing, and how she manages to travel across the various countries. Of course, there is more to this and you can read it all in Part 2, next week, Folks... 

Which was your favourite country in this book for travelling and why?

To be honest, I have no favourites, because each of these countries that I have mentioned in the book has contributed immensely to the richness of the content. 

If I have to be specific, I’d give Mongolia a tick because it was the immediate next place I went to within hours of returning from North Korea.

The difference in the two countries was so much that Mongolia left a lasting impression on me. But of course, North Korea was definitely an experience that cannot be quantified and no emotions or words would justice to the nature of visit, so that will always remain as the most ‘unique’ experience ever.

Which was your favourite city and food during the travel in this book?

Again, pardon me for not having a ‘favourite’ city or place or food. I don’t see it that way. I love every place I go or every experience I have.

I can tell you what food I did not like – it was kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish – but that is essentially because I do not like cabbage in any form.

How do you note the points, which you have in your book? Do you come back and write them down or are there any other ways?

There is something I believe in. What the mind cannot remember, it not worth remembering! Yes, I do take pictures because, let’s face it, my mind is not a super computer to remember everything – occasionally I take notes as well.

But when I am writing, I easily relive every moment (helped along with pictures and notes!) and then it becomes easy to write. Also, what I write are facts, the reality as it happened, and I believe that you don’t easily forget real experiences.

How did you manage to travel to the various places in this book? How was the whole thing planned?

Uganda (Wikimedia)
Some of it was planned, like North Korea and some were not, like Uganda or Kenya because I travel to these places often. While I am not always in favour of planning to the T, it helps organise oneself as well.

For North Korea, there was no choice, really because there was an itinerary that I had to follow – no questions asked.

In what way has this particular travel experience changed your view of the world?

At the cost of sounding arrogant or pompous, I’d like to say that it travelling has NOT changed my view of the world, instead it has reconfirmed my belief that the whole world is one. 

That every one of us have the same need, same pain, same love. 

Every new travel has shown me evidences of this. I travel not just to see the unfamiliar, but also to seek the familiar. I am sure I’d be terribly shaken if I landed in a place in which human beings didn’t behave like one!

Huckleberry Finn (Wikipedia)
What inspired you to start writing? Was the experience fun and does it come in the way of travelling, sometimes?

I have been writing since I was a child – first in notebooks, then later on as blogs. I love writing and of course, reading.

I think it was the sense of adventure that I experienced in the pages of Huckleberry Finn or Nancy Drew that set me off to experience a world of my own. Then I decided to make those experience last forever. It is said that a written word is forever – so I am trying to do just that!

Gobi Desert : Wikipedia
On these travels what was the best and worst methods of transport you’ve experienced? Why?

There are no best and worst methods of traveling. You travel in what you can and how you can and what is best suited to the given place. It would be wrong to land up in the Gobi Desert and expect to drive through in a BMW sports car.

At the same time it would be stupid to say I’d cycle from Dubai to Port Moresby, just because I like it! I haven’t experienced a ‘worst kind of transport’ – what I have experienced is transport of different kinds.

You can Read the Review here and Buy the Book  here, as well

Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review : 'Poly-Trap' by Nita Ganguly and illustrated by Niramoy Ganguly

Nita Ganguly’s children’s book, ‘Poly-Trap’ (for 9+ years) is an almost brilliant one. The story is about a pair of seahorses, Wiley and his mother. Wiley, a baby sea-horse is out on a swim with his mother. He gets out on a discovery, in which he gets to check out much more of the sea-world around him. 

His mom has a good idea, and it is up to Wiley to guess the sea creatures, which his mom would describe. The two of them set out, and he gets to see some starfish, crabs and turtles, etc, when suddenly out of nowhere, he notices a poly bag floating around. 

His mom gets confused between a poly-bag and a jellyfish, at first sight. But, soon she figures out that it is actually a poly-bag. So, what could they do about seeing not just that one, but so many others? Wiley wants to know how they would reach his home area too. Will his mother tell him how and what they can do, around them? Will she tell him that these can harm them, and how they can be got rid of?

It is not just a really cool book about all the fish and animals at sea, but also one for the environment, importantly. The illustrations leave a little to be desired, though the book is a good one. You can check out this cool book, with the illustrations done by Niramoy Ganguly.

You can Buy the Book, right here.