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Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage by Dr. Shaul Sapir

4 Feb

I read “Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage” by Dr. Shaul Sapir on the recommendation of a Swapbook friend, Aadil Desai. Aadil is an avid reader, collector of antique books, maps & collectibles and a Mumbai story-teller. He leads many walks around Mumbai and shares stories about the city, its history, architecture and culture. So when Aadil recommended this book there was no doubt in my mind that it was a must read.

Bombay: Exploring the Jewish Urban Heritage by Dr. Shaul Sapir

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The Bombay Balchão walk with author, Jane Borges and Swapbook in Mumbai

24 Jan

Walking around in Mumbai, especially in the older parts of the city, is like walking through a treasure trove of the city’s history. In some instances, these treasures are hidden, just waiting to be unearthed. But in many cases they are in plain sight and all you need to do is pay attention. I love exploring my own maximum city and whenever I am not traveling and have the time, I join a group or some friends to walk around some of Mumbai’s old neighbourhoods. On one such weekend I joined a group of friends from Swapbook and author, Jane Borges, as she took us on a quick tour of the various locations featured in her recently released book, Bombay Balchão – talking about the old Christian neighborhoods of South Mumbai, their history, culture and the people.

Dabul, an old Christian neighbourhood of South Mumbai, Maharashtra

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The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

7 Jan

I had discovered books by Robert Macfarlane (“Macfarlane”) quite by accident. I had attended a panel on travel writing in a Literature Festival and as part of the discussion, William Dalrymple (“Dalrymple”), one of my favorite authors, described  Macfarlane ’s writing as “Prose that he (i.e. Dalrymple) can only dream of writing”. It took me a while but I picked up  Macfarlane’s first book, Mountains of the Mind, and finally understood what  Dalrymple  meant by his statement. It was a beautiful prose combined with adventures, mountains and stories to create a sublime read.  Macfarlane’s “The Wild Places” was my second book and I loved it even more than his first one.

The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane

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Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City

15 Nov

If you are planning a trip to Istanbul anytime soon and love history, culture and architecture; then you have to pick up a copy of “Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City” by Hilary Summer-Boyd and John Freely. This is a not your standard guide book and nor does it talk about what to see, do or where to eat in Istanbul. Instead, through its 23 walking routes (strolls), it takes you on a journey through Istanbul’s history, its people, its battles, the rulers and their idiosyncrasies, the myths and folklore, the stories of various old structures that survive (at times for more than a century) to share their tales, and so much more.

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Meghalaya – The Green Unknown: Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers

14 Aug

I stumbled upon this awesome book quite by chance. Off late I have been trying to read more of lesser known Indian authors or lessor known books on India and came across this book on Kindle Unlimited. Intrigued by the setting of the book and the authors love for the living root bridges, I decided to give it a try.

Pic courtesy – Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

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Albania – Broken April by Ismail Kadare

16 Jul

After completing the two selected books on Afghanistan, the next country on my reading list was Albania. Researching for books on Albania was quite interesting as I realized that I don’t know anything about this country at all. As a quick background – geographically located in Southeast Europe between Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece, Albania has an interesting political history. Albania was ruled by the Ottoman Empire till 1912 (when it declared its independence), but was conquered by Italy in 1939 and then by Germany in 1943. In 1944, it became a Socialist State and the Party of Labor and Enver Hoxha took control of the country till the early 1990s. During the communist era, Albania experienced many social and political changes, as well as isolation from the international community. In 1991, the Socialist Republic was dissolved and the democratic Republic of Albania was established. With it’s nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule and the subsequent communist regime, Albania has a unique and distinct culture from other European countries.

Broken April by Ismail Kadare

Broken April by Ismail Kadare

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Afghanistan – The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

3 Jul

I started my travel reading project with the first country on the list – Afghanistan. Originally I had decided to read one travel related book on each country written by a local author. But an initial research online yielded quite a few interesting book suggestions, and I couldn’t make up my mind. Finally my sisters’ Afghan colleagues’ came to my rescue and based on her recommendation I decided to read – Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi and The Places In Between by Rory Stewart.

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. Pic courtesy - Amazon

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. Pic courtesy – Amazon

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Afghanistan – “Earth and Ashes” by Atiq Rahimi

23 Jun

I started my travel reading project with the first country on the list – Afghanistan. An initial research online yielded quite a few interesting book suggestions, but only two Afghan authors – Khaled Hosseini and Atiq Rahimi. I had read all of Khaled Hosseini’s books so I decided to add Atiq Rahimi to my shortlist. Additional research yielded books that I would have liked to read but they were all by foreign (i.e. non Afghan) authors and were based on their journey and impressions of this country. This kind of diluted the purpose of what I want to achieve, which is to read more local authors of every country to understand the local customs, mannerisms and lives. I didn’t want to read a foreigners’ observations of this country.

Earth and Ashes - Cover courtesy - Amazon

Earth and Ashes – Cover courtesy – Amazon

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