Thursday, October 10, 2013

Journey to the Hills and other Stories -Book Review

Journey to the Hills and other StoriesJourney to the Hills and other Stories by Divyaroop Bhatnagar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Enjoy the gentle charms of a forgotten time as you turn the pages of this little book.'- Divyaroop Bhatnagar, Author- Journey to the Hills and Other Stories

True to what was promised, this book delivers the little nuances that the present generation can only imagine and love!

This is the story of a family who visit Mussoorie,India to beat the extreme harshness of the summer.Set in the 1960s and 1970s, it has an old-world charm to it. With a beautiful house named Ida Villa in a place called Camel's Back Road, it is a tale of their adventures, the people involved in the process and of course nature's bounty.

The Picture Palace, the Methodist Church, the Bata Shoe Shop, Kwality restaurant and the Rialto Cinema are places that surely create an impact on the reader and make one think about the good old days in a pleasant way.

One can observe well that even though the elders of the family had the traditional Indian meals,omelets and toast, cheese and marmalade was not strange to them.

The elder lady often used to say-
Khichri ke chaar yaar
Ghee,Papad,Chutney,Achar ( I would love to agree on this!)

So their vacation was incomplete without packing freshly prepared delicacies for their journey. But the birthday celebrations showed how Indian traditions had changed thanks to the Britishers in India which could be observed through the custom of giving 'return gifts', cake-cutting, games like 'Passing the Parcel' and so on but then the fact that the day began with a 'Havan' organized for the well-being of the person( a traditional aspect)is proof of how even when some things are wiped out, their proof of existence remain- somewhere, in some way or the other.

Don't be mistaken when you hear 'Lavender Lane' for what you imagine when you hear it would be proven completely wrong!

The characterization is amazing with each character having a glint of modernity (in the British way) even though their roots remain Indian. Dadiji was a good example of a lady who was not a traditional housewife, bound by the narrow conventions of home and family.She was a rebel, but in the mound of her time. Educated and friendly but strict at the same time, she makes a place for herself in the reader's heart.

This book is a beautiful trip with a family to a place that might not happen again because the anchor for the Mussoorie holidays began to fade with the unbridled commercialization and the rise of the Indian middle class which have taken a toll on the beauty of the place.

Like the author says, I would also echo the same sentiment- Like all old and delicate things, this era also has passed.

Perhaps another dawn would bring back a magical land like this yet again but then again, perhaps not.

One little glitch here is the font size of the book.The book in itself is small and the text size seems a bit more than normal. It somewhere felt like reading a book meant for very small children when in reality it has a plethora of memories and observations from a time that would remain in a book like this and in it alone...

- Divya Nambiar

Journey to the Hills and other Stories Journey to the Hills and other StoriesDivyaroop Bhatnagar

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