Book Blitz: Transit Lounge by Sunil Mishra

About the Book:

“Transit Lounge” is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years.

The book is a personal account of travels to places in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels; it includes losing an air ticket, dealing with difficult custom officials or getting mugged in a prime location in a foreign country.

Book Links:
Goodreads * Amazon

Snippets from Sunil’s travel:

I remember visiting Croatia some time in 2005. It is a small but very beautiful country in Eastern Europe. It could be a must see place for people who enjoy the nature’s beauty.

Plitvice lake that I visited consists of multiple lakes surrounded by mountain and a good amount of plantation. It covers a large trekking area covering the lakes, mountains and the trees.

The lakes are interspersed with numerous waterfalls that make it a great natural sight. The color of the lakes change based on the sunlight, amount of minerals and vegetation around it. Some of these sights are picture perfect in true sense.

Invader in one country is a hero in another.
This statue of Henry Havelock at Trafalgar Square, London reads :-
To Major General Sir Henry Havelock KCB and his brave companions in arms during the campaign in India 1857. “Soldiers! Your labours, your privations, your sufferings and your valour, will not be forgotten by a grateful country.” H. Havelock

About the Author:

Sunil is a software professional with over two decades of experience in the field of banking technology. Currently he is working with Infosys and has earlier worked with McKinsey, Accenture and I-flex solutions. As part of work he travelled to more than 30 countries across six continents. This constituted the basis of his current book.

Sunil is an MBA from IIM-Lucknow and holds a B.Tech from IIT(ISM), Dhanbad. He completed his schooling in Bokaro Steel City.

Contact the Author:
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Book Review: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

About the Book:

Exit West

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing—to fall in love—in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind—when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .

My Thoughts:

Exit West is an absolute masterpiece, that is well crafted and inspires the reader to think about some rather important topics.

I had  the pleasure of listening to Mohsin speak about the book and his ideas at Shakespeare and Co., Paris in January 2018. This was quite an eye opener and helped put the story in perspective. It became easier to understand the plot and what the author wanted to convey.

The story is well-written and the simplest plot line is the story of Nadia and Saeed who find love in an unnamed war torn country. Told through their experiences, Exit West explores how the world around us is dynamic and always changing. Along with this, the people in this world are also changing, both physically and in personality, as a result of their experiences. The choices a person makes or is forced to make, contribute to shaping who they are. This is articulated very well by the author.

The author uses imagery to bring into context the use of “doors” to travel to different places. As an example, we can relate our use of technology as a way of going into another world or sequence, that is quite different from the current reality. Another subtle focus is on the concept of migration and the refugee status in countries. The author brings out the idea that everyone, even if they do not move from the current place where they live, can be considered to be migrants since the world around them is always changing. People move to find shelter and a safer place to live, the basic things that we need to lead a simple life.

As the story progresses, we follow our lead characters as they take a trip through many such doors. Their experiences and adventures seek to shape the story and the messages brought out. At times I found it difficult to relate to Nadia and Saeed. They were lacking in character depth and some parts of the story didn’t work for me. However, I found the concept of the story quite intriguing and I think that it is definitely worth a read! The book has received a lot of praise and it is well deserved.

Book Review: Everyone Has A Story by Savi Sharma

About the Book:

Everyone Has A Story

Everyone has a story.
Meera, a fledgling writer who is in search of a story that can touch millions of lives.
Vivaan, assistant branch manager at Citibank, who dreams of travelling the world.
Kabir, a café manager who desires something of his own. Nisha, the despondent café customer who keeps secrets of her own.
Everyone has their own story, but what happens when these four lives are woven together?
Pull up a chair in Kafe Kabir and watch them explore friendship and love, writing their own pages of life from the cosy café to the ends of the world.

My Thoughts:

I had picked up this book because it seems to have garnered a good amount of popularity. The title of the story is interesting and based on that, I unfortunately jumped into the book with healthy amounts of expectation, just like I would any other book.

The story starts at a cafe, with Meera, the protagonist, sitting there, pondering, trying to find a story to write. In a slightly cliched addition to the story is Kabir, the manager of the cafe who eventually becomes Meera’s friend. As Meera seeks to find a reason to write, she meets Vivaan. Captivated by his desire to travel, and seeking out a story, Meera approaches him and they become friends. All this forms the basis and premise of the story. It seemed to me to be cliched and something out of a Bollywood film.

The author’s style of writing also confused me. The chapters were divided up into points of view, covering Meera’s and Vivaan’s. This was good to some extent as the author tried to give us some insight into the minds and thoughts of the main characters. This worked to some extent, but this being a very short book, there did not seem to be focus on developing the characters. Also, after spending only a little time, Meera falls in love and Vivaan later comes and shares his heart breaking love story.

Apart from a vague introduction to their pasts, there was not much about their current situation, living conditions, family. These are things that tend to add more perspective and dimensions to characters. Also, in our country, the parents do play some role and in the story, when Meera is in the hospital, in critical condition we still don’t see any family coming to be with her. Moreover, Vivaan just runs away, with the need to pursue his dream of traveling the world leaving his friends behind and ends up on a journey of self-realization.

There is quite a bit of philosophy thrown into the mix along with the constant repetition of the phrase – “follow your dreams”. Sometimes, in the practical world that today is, such things are not possible. One thing that stood out was the ending. Though the plot is simple, the author stuck to her point and brought Meera to a certain place in life, having accomplished something that she had set out to do. Reading this part made up for the lack of detail in the rest of the story.

Overall, it’s not a bad story, but it’s way too cliched and a bit difficult to digest. Everything seems to happen too soon and too easily with characters who are nice but not very developed. However, you can give the book a read. It is decent for a first book and I am sure that the author’s stories will get better and better as she writes more! 🙂