In & out

Nandini Nair | Updated on August 27, 2014

Travelling in, Travelling Out: A Book of Unexpected Journeys, Edited by Namita Gokhale, HarperCollins, Category: Travel, Price: ₹599

Why travel when all worlds exist on the page

What does travel mean in the age of Google and the World Wide Web? What can exploration be, when one can soar above rivers or dash through ancient monuments, with a click of a button? In an attempt to answer these questions, to extend the meaning of travel beyond packing a suitcase and moving to someplace different, HarperCollins has come out with Travelling In, Travelling Out.

With 25 writers packed into less than 250 pages, the book, like any mountain hike, proves to be packed with highs, lows, the expected, the unexpected, the meaningful and the meaningless. The connection between the stories is stretched thin, but if you are looking to dabble in tales rather than dive deep within, it will fit your need. A few sparkle with insights, while others heave with platitudes. The worst line can be awarded to the following, which can be found in ‘Beauty in India’; “If Charles de Gaulle, finding the French ‘an ungovernable nation’, had called them ‘ les veaux’ (cows), India can certainly be called a mock socialist, feudo-democratic, dynasto-oligarchic anarchy that continues to function within some unfathomable manner of cyclic, cosmic order!” The exclamation mark at the end dispels none of the tedium. Overlooking such stolid writing, there is much to browse through in this eclectic collection.

The opening chapter by Devdutt Pattanaik puts a Hindu spin on travel by telling of the gods who are always on tour, and the modes of transport of their choice. And to the delight of all armchair travellers, the naked wise man in Pattanaik’s chapter, helpfully reminds us that “seated or moving, we are always travelling.”

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, the Wiccan priestess, goes ghost hunting (and finds them) in ‘Bhangarh: Of Darkness and Light’. Her encounter with orbs of light in a Rajasthani fort doesn’t frighten, but might make you a little more suspicious of that thing that goes bump and boo at night. Travel at times must be to foreign lands, like in Ali Sethi’s perceptive story ‘The Foreigner’s Situation’, but at times, it is just about going further south in the same city as Aakar Patel tells us in ‘Moving to Bombay’. While Namita Gokhale describes how the tourist town of Nainital is her hometown, Mayank Austen Soofi finds Nainital in a bookshop in Delhi. This book, like that bookshelf, shows that ultimately all worlds exist on the page.

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Published on March 07, 2014
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