Author: Sunil Mishra
Travelling is the favourite pastime of Indians and foreigners alike. This can be gauged by the latest World Tourism Rankings, which shows an ever increasing number of international travels. During the course of their travels, a lot of tourists are also writing travelogues to share their experiences and insights about a particular place which they have visited and also provide information to fellow travellers. However, most of these travel accounts are written by foreign authors and few Indian authors have delved into this genre. The few travelogues written by Indians mostly cater to inland travel. In such an Indian travelogue genre literary scenario, author Sunil Mishra comes with the book “Transit Lounge”.
The book is a personal account of travels to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years. The author, presently working with Infosys in India and having earlier worked with McKinsey, Accenture and I-flex solutions, travelled during the course of his work to different parts of the world and this constituted the basis of this book. This is the case with a lot of Indians who after the economic liberalisation of 1991 enjoyed numerous and more frequent international travels. However, the author by compiling his personal anecdotes and travel accounts, which provide a lot of insights and different perspectives has come out with a travel book which besides being informative, also makes for a good read.
The book has been divided into eight chapters. The first chapter “Africa- Starting with the most memorable trips” details the author’s travels to Ghana, Nigeria and Egypt. The author has described vividly his travels in Egypt and according to him; it looks more like a Middle Eastern country and just shares a place on the map with Africa. He has described his cruise in the river Nile and a visit to the pyramids. Also, he went to Cairo again after about 10 years, and has described the repeat visit with a comparative analysis and a different perspective. The visit to Ghana was the first international travel of the author and has been amongst his most memorable trips. The lucid recollection also touches upon the cultural aspects and the economic prospects there and also describes the life of the Indian Diaspora present in the country.
The second chapter describes his visits to the Middle Eastern countries- Iran, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Turkey. The author has described these quintessentially rich countries where the standard of living of the natives is very good and the oil boom has created huge wealth without any need for the native citizens to work hard. However, he also touches on the subject of the blue-collar immigrant workers, mostly Indians, and their living and economic conditions. Iran has been described as a country with an exotic past, with the impact of the Islamic revolution and the undercurrents of anti-Americanism. Turkey, straddling two continents Asia and Europe, shows the perfect example of intermingling of Islam and Christianity, which is exemplified by the magnificent Hagia Sophia, a church cum mosque.
The third chapter details the visits to United States of America and describes the incident of losing his air tickets and how he handled the situation. The xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments which have flared recently have also been described. But what is different about this book is that it is about an Indian travelling the world and discovering India in the process.
The fourth chapter details visitations to Western European countries- United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany and Denmark and describes the heritage monuments and the prosperous cities which are cultural symbols. The fifth chapter details visits to Eastern European countries- Croatia, Romania and Georgia, which are different from Western Europe and quite fragmented. The residual effects of the communist regimes and the changes after the fall of the Berlin wall have also been described.
The sixth chapter details visits to Australia and New Zealand which have been gifted with abundance and natural beauty. The seventh chapter describes visits to Asian countries- Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and Sri Lanka, which are emerging economies with colonial legacies. The eighth chapter details visits to Latin American countries- Argentina and Venezuela and their vibrant culture which has mixed with Spanish colonialist culture.
The book cover is also very apt, and shows a world map with a compass. The soothing colours of the book cover and the blurb describing all the countries which find a mention in the book will certainly entice readers to pick up this book and enter the travel world while sitting on their couches.
Apart from the travel sagas about exotic destinations which one frequently reads in newspapers, we get limited information about certain places and this book has filled that gap by describing places which are frequented less by Indians. Also the author has been very lucky to have circumnavigated the globe and the reader certainly wishes to wear the author’s boots and go on such travels. This is a book that should be read by travellers and non-travellers alike, for the former will know what to expect in different countries, along with their cultural differences; and the latter will get enlightened about the various tourist destinations, and also get inspired to travel more frequently.
WRITTEN BY: CHIRDEEP MALHOTRA