For one who doesn’t like to travel, the best way to learn about other places is travel books. Sit back and let the writer take you to all those places that you’ve heard of or wonder about?

Prema Srinivasan’s Footloose and Fancy-free covers all the known territories: the U.S., the U.K., Europe, Australia, South Africa? India gets a look-in with Shimla, Puducherry and Tranquebar.

Down memory lane

In her preface, the author mentions that most of these were places she had visited with her family; some are reprints of articles published earlier in newspapers and magazines. The first piece, a trip down memory lane, on the Mylapore area of Chennai is perhaps the most evocative. The images of a laidback charming place are in sharp contrast to the congested, traffic-heavy Mylapore we know today.

Israel begins Srinivasan’s journeys in real earnest. From there you follow her through Switzerland, Greece, the Salisbury Plains, Wessex; Vienna, Yellowstone National Park, South Africa?. Srinivasan sticks to the tried and tested. Greece, Egypt and Israel, for instance, are seen through the prism of myth and history; her descriptions of Wessex are interspersed with references to Thomas Hardy’s books; Shimla’s imperial past is invoked; in Yellowstone and South Africa, the focus is on natural beauty.

Her text encompasses history, geography, occasionally economics?. Very rarely does her personal view peep through. But that seems to have been her intention. The blurb on the rear cover says that the book “attempts to take the reader across accustomed thresholds, to places known by reputation?” Of the various pieces, the ones that really hold attention are The Aborigine Experience and Cornwall. Overall this is a book to dip into; choose your place, flip through the photographs and dig in for a learning experience.

For copies contact Prema Srinivasan, 12 Parthasarathy Gardens, Kasturi Ranga Road, Alwarpet, Chennai 18 or e-mail prema_49@rediffmail.com

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