Book review of Life Unknown – A Passage Through India by Kartikeya Ladha
Kartikeya Ladha has picked the right spot to write a book on during the pandemic. Travelling, movement and human touch something that everyone has missed the most thanks to this indefinitely long lockdown and pandemic situation. Life Unknown is about author’s journey around India, which he calls his motherland, after answering the call for his ardent want to escape his self centered life in the US.
At once a jab at capitalism and a travelogue, Ladha knows most of the times where to pull the line between tideous boredom of facts and exhausting over-thrill of a adventure gone wrong. This book’s oeuvre is the want to escape. Escape from a world dangling from situations and benefits that only affect the self and it’s material possession. Materialism and thus the capture of the capitalist cycle is what runs the world of today. A want to escape from this diabolical and disturbed world, a want to find inner peace and inner deep meaning formed the genesis of the book. How not to become a victim to the monotonous life that societal conditions teach us to be is something that Life Unknown teaches you very well.
Travels around the picturesque Northern India and a holy pilgrimage around Southern India, form the most enticing plotline of the book. Treks around the Ladakh valley, the foothills of Himalayas, the walks around the vast riverbanks of the Ganga and the scenic routes from Goa to Kanyakumari, the people, the cultural exposure, the vibe, the emotions all is alive in this book.
He successfully captured the essence of these places. Taking with him a camera and thus the pictures, alleys of memory and thus this book, Ladha has given us something to cherish in this period of isolation where travel is one of the most craved things. Though cooked up with perfect ideation and a very intriguing writing style which is neither too slack nor too taut, there are bits here that feel overstretched. Considering the scope of the book this comes naturally, nothing is a total perfectly smooth ride not even a travel journey.
Ladha also discusses as the final touch of effect, issues like climate change and the deeply instilled stereotypes of Indians. Climate change is discussed with respect with what has changed, and how growing insensitivity of humanity towards nature and global warming is a threat on travelling and it’s sanctity itself. Even among this is also cultural appropriation, cultural disparity between folks that runs as a strand of any life in general inside India.
Overall, Life Unknown is a balanced memoir cum travelogue that can be read easily to satiate your want to visit new places in the lockdown.
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