Before we go into a review of the book, let me be honest here. Im a devotee of fiction and the other areas of literature don't really get a second look from me. To change that habit, I took up the task of reviewing ADRIFT a Junket Junkie in Europe. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible with regard to my opinion about the book.
ADRIFT A Junket Junkie in Europe – Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu
About The Author : Puneetinder Kaur Sidhu is a self-professed travel enthusiast (her motto, “have money, will travel" is almost respectable), fiercely independent, thirty -something, single, and endowed with a wry sense of humor. A former travel and food columnist with Hindustan Times, she has been regularly contributing articles to travels and airline magazines and national dailies for over 15 years. She is on the book review panel of The Tribune, having reviewed numerous human interest stories, with travel and food being her preferred genres.
The Plot : It always helps having friends and relatives in the right places , and Puneet, who traces her decent to the Arnauli family, certainly has them. Her sister gets her a ticket, the Captain of the plane puts her in Executive Cabin and so begins a journey that takes the reader on a tour of people and their relationships; places, often taking the road less travelled; and food.
Owing to a shoe string budget she prefers staying with the people she knows, than at hotels. Trading expertise with hospitality, she cooks Indian food for her hosts, though she would as much love to check out the local stuff and beverage for which Europe is famous.
Certain accounts like the one about, ‘Goa' recreated in Germany, where "a certain suspicious odour, reminiscent of evenings in and around Manali, pervaded the air," has a wistfulness about it.
Certain parts are informative like the one about ‘Mitfahzentrale', a government-encouraged car pool service for travelers, which takes her journey forward to Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungry, Austria and France.
Certain descriptions like when the author goes around exploring the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, and shares her agony of not being able to understand them, inspite of having read a biography of the artist , is a good read. However her wry wit, wherein she keeps reminding us that she is "over weight", is not something that I could connect with, or rather make me smile (I hope imp not being too harsh here).
Another aspect that I could not seem to connect with was the different characters that pop in and out of the journey - Anne Aunty, Moni, Kristen, Zina, Joszef, Eszter, Sanjay, Gunjan, Kaushik, Georges. Certain dialogues, situation seemed too personal to be listed in a book.
Now, if only the author had not bound herself to those "cardinal travel rules" (you will have to read the book to find out which), there would have been another story! (I’m guessing here).I would definitely give it to her for having had the courage to travel alone, however, since, she was travelling alone I was expecting a little more from the book (call me a cynic here).
My Opinion: All that said and done, what would have taken a day to have read the book, dragged on for three days. It was something what I would not have wanted to read, maybe because of my liking for fiction and books that keep me engrossed. The entire book seemed a little too fast, it felt like the author was in azury r had a certain limit with the number of pages/ words that could be used. The tour through Europe was the only one which was clear, the rest seemed like a blur, like a dream you wouldn’t be able to recollect once you wake up.
The style of writing is simple, however not one which leaves you wanting for more. What I liked was the inclusion of pictures which did give a break from the reading (now I don’t know whether that is good or bad). Also the cover of the book is striking yet simple which lends it a second look for sure. And a small description in the index about the places she has visited is also noteworthy.
My rating: I would give it a 4/10
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