While there is indeed a lot of travel that’s showcased in the book, I think it goes beyond that. The first section consists of travelogues and when I started comparing them to others in the genre, I felt they fell woefully short, at least in terms of the sheer amounts of vivid descriptive prose I am used to. That’s until I realised that I had to change my notions of travel writing to get adjusted to the snapshot style that takes the reader quickly from Bali to Rome and Santa Fe to Madhya Pradesh. The other great part about this section is that it also serves as an excellent guide, complete with phone numbers and websites.
The second section, which focuses on Asia, though (almost of) the same length as the earlier ones, takes you a little more into what makes a place tick. This is the part that focuses more on how cities have grown (and are growing) than the actual places to see. It shows the influence of people, culture and nature and their interplay in creating the character of a place.
But I think my favourite section would be the third, titled ‘Confessions of a Frequent Flyer’, which has an enriching mix of personal experiences and sometimes, the philosophy of travel, views on hotel stays and some excellent anecdotes.
For bibliophiles, the next section titled ‘Close Encounters’ would be a treat as Rahul Jacob writes about the meetings with authors like Yann Martel, Vikram Seth etc and goes beyond what they write to their philosophies in life.
The last section is more of a showcase of Britain – London in particular, and your interest would vary depending on the subject itself. But it does offer a great deal of insight nevertheless on the recent evolution of London as a truly cosmopolitan city.
Its a wonderful read and though it might differ from the standard formats of travel writing, it will definitely take you on a journey that you’ll enjoy.