The Travel Gods Must Be Crazy: Wacky Encounters in Exotic Lands
Travel frustrates and discombobulates just as much as it delights and enriches. It takes a particular passion for travel to find something to love even in the scariest, most confusing and annoying of journeys. Thanks to her job as an energy consultant — which requires her to make as many as 18 international trips a year — Sudha Mahalingam has had the good fortune of being able to travel to some of the most interesting parts of the world. These trips — and the frequently mind-boggling adventures that such travels entail — provide the fodder for her book The Travel Gods Must Be Crazy: Wacky Encounters in Exotic Lands.
Of course, Mahalingam’s idea of what makes a specific destination interesting does not universally apply. After all, few would consider a trip to the isolated Issyk-Kul lake, Uzbekistan. That too in the middle of winter, when they could easily be enjoying the beauty of Tashkent and Bukhara, ensconced in the warmth of modern civilisation. Few would even think about picking a nondescript village in the humid jungles of Borneo as a destination, when Indonesia has far more convenient attractions to offer.
But Mahalingam is a traveller who delights in going off the beaten track, even if it means ending up in a hotel with no or limited modern conveniences, or being stranded in off-the-grid places, without access to public or private transport. With her breezy prose (that is let down a little by terribly-used photographs), Mahalingam teases out the humour in every situation, even if it means confessing that — thanks to her stubborn preference of off-beat, uncomfortable holidays — she’s the kind of traveller who ends up with broken friendships, if not broken bones.
Of course, not many Indian women, especially over a certain age, have the privilege of traveling like she does, but Mahalingam’s impish delight in nosing out the worst circumstances and then making the best out of them is rather inspiring. Not that one is moved to trek through knee-deep snow on impossible mountain trails upon reading this book: this reader, at least, is happier to simply chuckle over some of the more outrageous adventures described in it.