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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


If Truth Be Told: A Monk Memoir
Om Swami | Harper Element | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.54 PMAmit Sharma grew up in Patiala and flew to Australia to study and eventually work in the IT software industry. Then one day, he decided to renounce his family, wealth (including a Porsche) and friends in Sydney to embark on a spiritual journey because he says, he “wanted to devote his life to the search of Truth”. He returned to India, sought out Kashi, gurus, tantric yoga and wisdom. He says he attained “enlightenment” in a forest and that ‘tantra’ is not about tantric sex but realizing the self. Today, he runs an ashram in Uttaranchal and seeks followers.

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Item Girl
Richa Lakhera | Rupa| Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.39 PMThe story hidden between the pages of this thriller – set in the underbelly of Bollywood studios – zeros on rape, blackmail and ‘ma-behen’ invectives to paint what the blurb at the back of the book announces as “the dark side of showbiz”. It’s a tedious read – the ramble, the hectoring, the sloth of thought and the language of tired clichés (the plants were rotting alive; feet sounding brittle and hard on scratchy shabby grass; her first film turned out to be a stellar hit). Rupa needs to tighten its editing skills and Lakhera her story telling abilities.

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For Tibet, With Love
Isabel Losada | Bloomsbury | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.25 PMIsabel Losada, a journalist from Battersea, England, travels to China, India and London to decipher how Tibet can win autonomy from Chinese rule. Along the way, she learns that world can’t be changed by staging world concerts or by calling the Chinese evil. Aptly subtitled as a “beginners guide for changing the world”, Losada in this book finally reaches out to Dalai Lama asking him what she and others who felt like her could do? He tells her to continue writing, learn from Gandhi’s ‘constructive determination’ and accept the ‘humanism’ of the Tibetan culture. Wise.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 15 February 2015)

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English Poetry
Ed by Sudeep Sen | Harper Collins | Rs 599

This 550 page compendium of modern Indian English poetry is an attempt by poet and literary editor, Sudeep Sen, to put together a collection of poems that “one would think of as a body of contemporary works that reflects a movement in new English poetry by Indians.” What that movement is he does not say. He does not also explain the reason for choosing one poet and ignoring the other. You will not find Arvind Krishna Mehrotra here or the brilliant Manohar Shetty, for instance. What he does however, provide us with, is a doorstopper of poems, some middling, some brilliant.

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With My Body
Nikki Gemmell | Fourth Estate | Rs 399

Gemmel’s first book The Bride Stripped Bare created ripples when it came out in 2003. Though written anonymously, the author was quickly identified. Reviewers variously tagged it as ‘literary porn’ and ‘outrageously, brutally honest book’. In the first book, says the author, “the plan was to examine sex within marriage.” In her second book, With My Body, she turns her gaze on sex in an extra marital affair. The prose, starched and stiff, is not easy to read. Gemmel, though, claims that the book is “in similar vein to Fifty Shades of Grey”. It isn’t. But it does come with a disclaimer that says ‘Adult Material’ on the cover.

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Meet Me At The Border
Inder Raj Ahluwalia | OM Books | Rs 295

One of India’s most prolific travel writers, Inder Raj Ahluwalia, has been writing on travel and aviation for past 30 years. In this book he presents various vignettes from his travel to far away lands. “There is a huge, wide world waiting out there,” he says, “It shows many faces and many images that range from ‘subtle’ to ‘stark’. Though I have tried to understand them all, it is the starkness that has floored me.” The 32 stories contained in this collection will take you from French Riviera to Polar Arctic, from Istanbul to Tokyo and beyond – on a journey of man who discovers others and sometimes, himself too.

(The above reviews first appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 4 August 2012)

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