“Travelling In, Travelling Out”, edited by Namita Gokhale and published by Harper Collins, is a collection of writings about travel, though not always in the traditional sense of the word. “We all have travel experiences in our life, but travelling is not necessarily the same thing for each of us and we all have different ways to live our journeys,” said the editor while presenting the book.
The horizon of the book is the world: its essays take the reader from Asia to America and Europe, discovering situations and different ways to travel. Every author shares his or her personal experience and the stories are very different from each other — from unusual encounters with Maoist guerrillas in the jungle to Western cities and difficulties encountered there by immigrants.
In this book, travelling does not mean only leaving a place to reach a new faraway and exotic destination: a person can also travel internally. Staying in one place for a long period, away from everyday stress, can be a path to the discovery of real needs and genuine emotions.
The 25 pieces in the book are not about the present times. Some of them bring to the readers journeys undertaken in the past — both far and near. For example, readers can find themselves traversing the small roads of Jerusalem following the footsteps of Baba Farid, who was there to fast and meditate in the 12th Century. Surprisingly, this path will lead the reader to a hospice managed by an Indian family that has survived the wars down the ages. “Behind this story, there has been also a historical research through archival documents,” specified the author.
Not all the travels in the book, however, are pleasant; some of them lead to a brush with painful moments, such as the story of Bir Bahadur. As a young boy during the Partition of India, he remembers his father, who like several others, killed his daughters with the intention to protect them from the widespread violence across the country. His journey takes him back to his native place, through the steep path of the memory of conflicts and their contradictions.
Although rich in detail, some of the stories are short, leaving the readers wanting more.