If not for the love for the travelogues that I have developed recently, I would have never picked up this book “In The Hot Unconscious – An Indian Journey” by Charles Foster. Traveling has always been a passion and I must thank my parents because they have always encouraged me to travel which most of the Indian parents do not.
Another thanks to BlogAdda for providing me with opportunity to lay my hands on such a fantastic piece of writing by Charles Foster and asking me to review it. This is a genuine advice to the reader of this book to read everything that is mentioned in the book, right from whatever is written on the cover, the acknowledgement, the preface and obviously the praises about the book.
Initially, you would find it a bit boring, but as you will progress it gets interesting. You will see, how Charles tries connect and contemplate over Eastern & Western cultures. He tries to touch all the five physical features of the Indian sub continent, namely, The Great Himalayas, The Northern Plains, The Coastal Areas, The Great Plateaus and The Deserts.
I personally have got the chance to travel in the interiors of India so I know, how inquisitive one can get when he meets strangers from a different culture. Some instances in the book brought back some fond memories as I could connect with Charles’s mindset. When two cultures meet, there are various discussions, immense curiosity and a willingness to get deep into the details and if you meet right set of people, the trip becomes a memorable one.
The book is divided into 11 chapters that would throw strong light on the Indian mentality and how people are so particular about their religion, culture, art and theories. Specially chapter 8, “Trains & Myths” is my favorite chapter from the entire book, because I just love traveling in Trains. At times, you meet interesting strangers while you are traveling in the train and they give you some memories for the lifetime and trust me if you are traveling in Indian trains, you would find many such people around.
Foster’s trip to Kanyakumari, where all the three seas meet, and his observations about the place would definitely make you feel that you are there with him. His witty comments, and the ease with which he tries to connect East with West is definitely worth praising. I would also like to mention the excerpts given in the start of each chapter give a whole new insight to the story and would make you think about a few things. I had to keep a dictionary by my side to keep up with the vocabulary used in the book, but thats a good thing.
A travelogue is always incomplete if you do not mention about the people and your interactions with them. Charles has done this beautifully. Each character mentioned in the book would definitely leave an impression on you and would make you think about them. He has definitely focused on many such things that are actually invisible to tourists and only a person with a strong observation would notice them.
You need to have a lot of patience to sail through this book, but trust me, once you get the hang of it, you would not mind finishing it in a single seating.
The video review of the book is here