I had been passionate about travel since time immemorial. I do not know as to what ignited this passion, but one thing I am sure of is that my chartered accountancy days accentuated the travel hunger to the next level. My training involved extensive travel to various parts of the country for my audit assignments. Later, my jobs ensured that I keep traveling for work, which I did happily though there was a sweet twist as the travel involved traveling to the international destinations across the globe.
It was at my stint at Bengaluru in my previous job, during which I picked up blogging and photography to start capturing my travel tales. After having captured my travel tales for a couple of years, I wanted to read the travelogues written by others to understand the psyche, which drives people to travel. I started searching around for books, or I would say the travelogues. The search included rummaging through online portals, checking with friends, and enquiring at booksellers. The key was to pick-up something that is being recommended by someone. Finally, I was able to narrow down to six books, which ultimately landed on my desk earlier this year. I did read all the books within a month, and I would say that these were the good reads.
1. Blood River
The author Tim Butcher was a correspondent with The Telegraph and was sent to Africa on an assignment in 2000. During the period he was based out there, he grew an obsession to travel the distance of Congo River overland from the origin till it merges with the Atlantic Ocean, following the legendary explorer Henry Stanley. This book is a brilliant narrative of his travel alongside the Congo River using bikes, boats, cars, and canoes spread over forty-four days. During this journey, he leveraged his contacts from his earlier days to take help from UN aid workers, local churches as well as the local community. The entire narrative has been splashed with recent as well as the old history of Africa, especially of the Congo.
I must say engrossing travel tale, which gave me a peek-a-boo into the African continent and its history.
2. Into the Wild
This is a story of a young man Christopher McCandless. He left his home after graduation around 1990 and began traveling across the USA. In April 1992, he headed for Alaska, which is considered to be the ultimate destination into the wild for any hiker. He had wanted to spend some time there and then return. However, by the time he planned his return, summer had arrived. A raging river had covered the snow-capped trail by then, and he could not walk across. Chris somehow got stuck inside the wild in an abandoned bus, which sheltered him. He survived around 100 days before being found. The bus has now acquired the status of an icon over the years. It is also known as Chris McCandless Bus. It is a well-known destination for the hikers from all over and is visited by many every year.
The book was written in 1996, wherein the author has elaborated his article that he had written around the time into a book topped up with further extensive research. It was adapted into a movie in 2007 with the same name. Sean Penn directed the film, and Emile Hirsch played the role of Chris. The book has gone on to become an international bestseller since then. It has been included in the reading curriculum of many schools and colleges. The book has since been printed into 30 languages.
This is a simple story of a girl who immersed herself in the office work after her bad marriage. Some stroke of luck and turn of events made her travel to the UK for a work assignment, which initially she did not want to. This was her first travel outside the country. She agreed as it was a very short trip, but midway during her project, the trip expanded to a multi-month assignment. This longer window at the UK opened her to an entirely new world and took her out of the monotonous daily routine. The new routine, new colleagues, and a new place ignited the passion for exploring the new world, and one thing led to another.
I presume this is an autobiographical narrative by Sandhya Iyer, but somehow I have not been able to locate her on any of the social media platforms. It could be a work of fiction as well, but the probability seems less as me having traveled extensively to the UK, I could connect lots of dots with her narrative.
4. The Shooting Star
This book is a compilation of the blog tales captured by Shivya Nath over the last few years but interestingly stitched together to create a seamless flow of the events cutting across the continents. It provides an absorbing read about how a small-town young girl, who always had an aspiration to explore the world since her childhood, landed in a job in Singapore, which she had never thought of before the global recession of 2008. Perhaps this was the turning point of her life, which opened her to an entirely new world of travel away from the finance world which she had initially aspired to. Personal anecdotes and experiences have been narrated very interestingly.
Read for yourself, to know about the exciting life journey. She also writes a blog with the same name.
5. The Magic of the Lost Temple
Written by Sudha Murthy, this is a tale of a young girl who goes to her grandparental house to spend her vacations with her grandparents. During the holidays, she starts exploring the area around while cycling along with friends. These included trips to the nearby river and the surrounding forests. During one such foray into the forest, they stumble upon a lost temple which had got buried underneath for quite a long time. I am not sure if it is a true story, but as a traveler, it leaves a lot to think and tells that the best way to explore is to go out and connect with nature.
The book reminded me of my childhood days when I would travel to my grandparental house in Punjab during summer vacations. During the stay, I would explore the countryside along with my cousins, coincidentally on our cycles, and many a time would don the role of shepherds. I do not think we stumbled upon any lost temples during those exploits. However, this book has rekindled the thought of doing the same roulette again.
As I look forward to reading more travelogues, please recommend the ones that you have come across and feel recommending. If I end up getting five more recommendations about the good travelogues, I will write a sequel to this article and will give credit to the persons recommending the same.