THEME: 4.5/5 STORYTELLING: 3/5 WRITING STYLE: 3/5 ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3/5
“Feeling fear is natural, walking despite fear is courage”
– Madhu Veena, A Woman’s Journey Through India
I love travel writing, but to be honest, the number of books I read on travel hardly matches the time I devote to browsing about them or the amount of money I spend on buying them. But as would be expected, the internet knows my choices quite well, and I am frequently suggested books on such themes.
I remember seeing A Woman’s Journey Through India popping up in my suggestions long back, but it was only recently that I got around to downloading it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription. Read on to know more about the book and my review of it.
What to expect?
Expect a short read of just under 100 pages. Expect a book that chronicles the author’s adventures as a solo female traveller in India. Expect a book that also acts as a guide to such travelling in India.
Who can read?
The book uses simple English and can be picked up by any category of readers. However, the content is such that it would mostly appeal to either beginners or to those solo female travellers who reside outside of India and are planning a visit to India.
What is the book all about?
To be very honest, when I first picked this book up, I thought it to be something entirely different. I thought that the book is about the author’s various travels to India, the journeys, the experiences, the different people that she met, the food, the cuisine, and the cultural diversity that is India. But to my surprise, this book is much more than that.
In addition to her travel experiences, the author includes many tips, suggestions, and recommendations for solo female travellers in India. She also recounts many childhood memories and talks about her spiritual journeys, as well as the philosophies that she lives by.
An outsider’s perspective written for outsiders
A Woman’s Journey Through India is written from the point of view of a person who doesn’t live in India. The author is an Indian who currently resides in Australia, so her experiences and perspectives are quite different from a regular Indian. Also, things that come naturally to Indians have been explained with great care and deliberation, keeping in mind a foreign target audience. This may come across as a little frustrating to an Indian reader, especially in the first part.
In the second half, this outsider’s perspective isn’t that pronounced. Many of the incidents and experiences recounted do not share this point of view.
The content in detail
The book comes divided into short chapters, and these chapters cover a wide variety of topics from an introduction on safety and how to travel safely in India, to how to go about booking hotels, booking guides, booking taxi services, etc. Now, these are the exact things which might already be known to Indians, but to people travelling from other countries, this will surely prove to be helpful.
The author also talks about how to deal with strangers, how to trust your intuition while talking to and meeting strangers, while explaining how she doesn’t recommend being too friendly without proper caution. She construes that in all your journeys, you will come across different kinds of people, those who will try to cheat you, but also those who will go out of their way to help you.
Personal experiences with a friend, philosopher, and guide
Madhu Veena writes extensively about her way of travelling. In her accounts, she doesn’t try to be preachy but tells you to follow your lead and discover what works best for you. Maybe it is the silence that you find in ashrams, or maybe it is the hustle and bustle of temples. She just tells you to follow your intuition and discover your path.
In that sense, the book is like a guide and also a philosopher. The author ends up becoming a friend in this journey, as she takes you on an adventure with her, while also urging you to go on an adventure of your own.
My favourite parts
My favourite parts in the book are when she goes on narrating her experiences in places like Khajuraho, Manali, Bodhgaya, Himalayas, Varanasi, and many others.
What strikes you as different
Some of the chapters talk about travel from a time when the internet was not such a big thing in India and solo travel for women was something that only exotic or very daring people did. It wasn’t heard of Indian women travelling alone and so those encounters were unique to read. I also love how the author shares her experience of growing up in a village.
In the end
While it is certainly not the best book that I have read on solo travelling, I am happy that I came across it. To sum it up in short, I found it a decent one-time read, a quick read which took me hardly 2 and a half hours but helped me see a unique perspective.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of A Woman’s Journey Through India using the link below.