May 16, 2017Posted by : The Booknerds
Book: There are No Gods in North Korea
Author: Anjaly Thomas
Pages : 236
Publisher : Niyogi Books
Published: 29 March 2016
Buy link: http://amzn.to/2pS5Vbl
About the author: Anjaly Thomas is a lawyer turned writer/traveller and author of three other books, currently based in Dubai. Her solo journeys around the world are a result of a conscious decision to sketch the world map based on her travels. From a novice backpacker who fled a mundane job at a newspaper to having visited North Korea pretending to be a school teacher, she has pretty much seen and done it all. She strongly believes that travelling solo sets the foundation for a better and more fruitful life because it teaches you everything that textbooks donâ€™t. â€˜To be able to learn real life lessons is far greater than reading the stories one finds between the pages of a school book,â€™ she says. So, go travel.
The Booknerdsâ€™ Verdict: Anjaly Thomas is definitely a force to reckon with as a writer. The book is a must read for everyone who travels, wishes to travel and also for those who cannot as it is a very immersive experience.The icing on the cake is the part about North Korea.
Nerd Rating: 4 /5
Book Summary: The uniqueness of the book lies in the simplicity of narration and the authorâ€™s real life experiences as she goes about her solo journeys around the world. These journeys do not dwell on destinations, but life moments which define the purpose of travel and create the richness of experience, leading her to a completeness not experienced by any other form of entertainment. Be it freezing in the cold in Turkey, capitalising on the kindness of strangers in Mongolia, redefining the limits of individual freedom in the iron-regime of Democratic Peopleâ€™s Republic of Korea or whether it is about learning to give, take or being humble or, most importantly, whether it is about being able to shed prejudices and being able to adapt and accept change the authorâ€™s journeys to random countries around the world will take the reader to a new level of understanding travel. It will instil a sense of responsibility and the importance of being a part of the world we live in.
Book Review: Stephen Spender had advocated in one of his poems â€œAn Elementary Schoolâ€ that children should not be limited to text books in claustrophobic class rooms but should be brought out of them. They should be left alone in the world to learn their lessons from Nature. The sun,moon,mountains,the greenery around them all would be there teachers. The writer, Anjaly Thomas, is a firm believer in the same faith. Since the world has transformed dramatically now, travelling is the best teacher that can be. The writer takes the readers on a journey through a string of cities which are different in so many ways yet there is a strange underlying similarity among them. One treads on untrodden land like North Korea(DPRK),where one is supposed to mind oneâ€™s own business, be a well behaved tourists and depart from the God forsaken land amaicably.The writer tells us of the acute shortage of electricity, the severe famine and the â€œshowcase citiesâ€ of DPRK.Photography is strictly prohibited and laughing aloud a taboo. The people of DPRK believe that with â€œone of the Kims at the helmâ€ you could rule the universe or write history. The visit inside the largest and grandest Mausoleum of the virtual Gods is an eye opener. The opulence of the place is overwhelming. The writer wonders that in todayâ€™s globalised conditions there is still a place where people are not aware of Internet, BBC or CNN, iphones or tablets, Adidas, Nike or even KFC, Starbucks or Pizza. When a tourist visits DPRK he witnesses a grand illusion that is North Korea because it is as elusive as Narnia or Atlantis.
One almost heaves a sigh of relief as the writer moves on from DPRK to Mongolia, Beijing and then to Africa. According to her the beginning is most important to build a relationship with the journey. The most astounding as well as remarkable thing about the book is that you traverse through the cities as a virtual traveler and you donâ€™t want the journey to end. The curiosity never ends because the writer is always throwing surprises.Humour has been used in a subtle manner in the description of places as well as in the obstacles that the writer has to encounter while travelling. The best thing is the concept of a â€œrelief travelerâ€ which is about adding a little thought to travel. There is immense satisfaction if you have helped the poor keep their kitchen fires burning even for a day or when you are amongst 30 children who cannot open chocolate wrappers, there smiles mean more than words can ever say. The writer feels that travel makes a person more aware, tolerant and extends the limits of patience.Anjaly Thomas is definitely a force to reckon with as a writer. The book is a must read for everyone who travels, wishes to travel and also for those who cannot as it is a very immersive experience.
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