The book is an itinerary of the author who loves to travel, explore the world, and that too in the company of friends who share her passion. The places she visits are offbeat destinations that few like to travel. As she writes, ‘We should go to Angkor before it’s overrun by tourists.’ The author and her friends like to feel the essence of a place. That does not mean that the destinations are devoid of attractions. Rather each spot has its own distinct flavour, which sets it apart from the rest.
In Cambodia, for example, a trip to Bayon where the scenes from the Mahabharata are sculpted are a treat to the eyes. In her opinion, the Bayon experience was far more rewarding than the trip to more famous Angkor Wat. She rues the fact that rather than absorbing the beauty of any such place, tourists waste time clicking themselves. About the Manthan scene, the churning of the ocean, she writes, ‘ …it’s the sheer drama of the space, the banked levels, enclosures surrounded by just those huge faces, that are an indelible imprint.’
The beautiful gardens and lakes of England get their due when they are described in great detail. The author loves the topiary but is disappointed to know how plants’ growth is strictly monitored to give them a particular shape. A visit to South France was planned to soak in the beautiful countryside and also for the marvelous food and wine. The caves located in the Vezere Valley are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the original caves are closed since 1968, yet the place reverberates with the feeling of the old. The towns nearby are a different world altogether, where people live a luxurious life.
She calls the opulence of the rich as ‘noble rot’.
Kaymakli, in Turkey, was discovered in 1964. The underground city, where the persecuted could hide for months is still something new for the uninitiated. The caves in this city were used by the accused to escape from the Romans.
The author also throws light on places which have been ravaged by history. Palestine: Grace under Repression, underlines how the Apartheid Wall is a grim reminder of a land divided. The Museum of Political Prisoners is witness to how people were tortured but the author finds it ‘…..a strangely uplifting space’. Its walls are covered with posters of defiance and resistance, they showcase the bravery of innumerable people, who sacrificed their lives for the cause they believed in.
Serious issues like the revolution in Egypt, which the author calls the ancient land, war in Syria and Lebanon are also covered in the book. These places are dotted with monuments, many of which have been reduced to ruins, but are repositories of the charm of the olden times.
At different places in the book, you can smell the place the author has written about. The books inspires the reader to back the bag and get set go.
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