Reading India, and the World

It’s finally December. Although, mentally, a part of me is still stuck in March. Where did the year go? How did we get through the multiple phases of a lockdown, looking up videos and recipes of sourdough bread and pasta, learning to make rotis and trying one’s hand at Dalgona coffee? How did we manage to get daily staples like groceries and bread, and milk? Some families probably spent time far from each other, while others were forced to spend time with each other. Mental health has probably never been spoken about so much, with some corporates, workspaces and even individuals taking this seriously. This year has been a trying time for everyone, and a devastating one for quite a few.

I’m grateful this year hasn’t been an exceedingly difficult one. I had no complaints about being confined at home. The ‘Reluctant Traveller’ in me was just as happy staying indoors and reading, writing, watching TV and whipping up new dishes. But strangely I’ve realised how my reading this year has unknowingly veered towards the travel genre. I’ve picked up books that took me across the world; from New York City to all over Japan, from Machhu Picchu to the quaint town of Báztan in Spain. I’m hooked to Book Of Cinz​’s account on Instagram. Cindy​ is a Jamaican who lives in Trinidad & Tobago. ​Sounds like paradise, doesn’t it? ​Ah! The beach, the sand and the sun. Gorgeous! I’m bummed ​that I do not know when or where I’ll get to travel, so I decided to embark on a ​different kind of a journey of my own.

This month onwards, I shall start the #ReadingIndi​​aProject. This is the hashtag I will be using​ on my social media, namely Twitter and Instagram​. You can see my progress, or the lack of it, right here. I have even created two new sub-sections on my blog. Woo hoo! It took me a while to figure out, but I now finally have a dropdown section under my Between Pages category, the one related to books. Now, for this project, I will pick up books based in/ about each state and Union Territory. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to visit all these places, but I can certainly try to get to know more about them.

Simultaneously, since I work best when challenged, I shall also start #RumReadsTheWorld project. In this, I shall attempt to similarly pick up a book based in or about every country on the planet. There are 195 recognised countries, but a certain website mentions Kosovo and Taiwan separately, so I will be following this one. As far as possible, I intend to read a travel book about a certain state or country, but a political/ history book may take precedence. I may even pick up a work of fiction. Who knows, I may even read more than one about a certain place, but that’s going to be over and above the general requirement. Somehow, I know this I going to happen.

Also, for these projects, I shall try my best to pick up books from my own shelf, a feeble attempt to read what I have first, and/ or borrow from friends. I do not want to buy more unless absolutely necessary. But there’s no telling how I may behave in this aspect. I cannot be contained. In addition, I will not be going alphabetically. Where is the fun in that?

Another important aspect – I shall not count any of the books I’ve read before. Picking up anything I’ve read before is going to be a complete no no.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know. I will be picking up only one book in place of an entire country/ state, I know it sounds ridiculous. I know that book will not be entirely representative of that place, its people and its culture. It will be, but, a slice of history. But it’s something. At least in my mind’s eye, I’d have travelled the world.

I am quite terrified of getting into these projects, and setting so many do’s and don’ts for myself. I look forward to broadening my knowledge, and definitely improving my hold on geography. I look forward to exploring new and different places, and learning about their histories and culture. I know so little about some places, like St Lucia or Tuvalu or even Lakshadweep.

Now don’t mistake this exercise as something that I’ll finish in 2021. No way. I will also be picking up books that are completely unrelated from time to time. It’s going to be a work in progress, and even if it takes a few years, I want to see this through. I will take my time with this because I want to learn, and hopefully remember some. I generally have a weak memory but I want this to be a transformative experience for myself.

Pic by K, feature image by myself

This picture was taken in August. Probably the first time I ventured far from home that didn’t count as a visit to the doctor. This picture aptly represents this year. You can see the way I’m clutching my bag of newly beloved books, like I’m holding onto them as if they were my lifeline. They are, in a way and I can’t wait to visit The Bookshop in Jorbagh, Delhi, again.

At this point I would also like to add how travel and food-related shows and vlogs really helped me through this year. I was never really into vlogging, but I now see what the hoopla around it is all about. I’ve written about travel vlogging and you can read it here. But the one that impacted me the most was Phil Rosenthal’s Somebody Feed Phil. K and I have enjoyed watching all the seasons and all the episodes. We only have Hawaii left, and we’re sort of delaying watching this last one. We miss Phil. We can’t wait to see more of his antics, his reactions and expressions when he’s eating or exploring. So, I’m taking the ‘exploring’ aspect of it forward in a slightly different manner.

The time has come when we usually work on our New Year resolutions, but it’s all too well known now that the advent of another year doesn’t guarantee health and happiness to all. Of course, you do you. But I shall not be waiting for the New Year to begin this project. Sooner the better. Watch this space for more. :)

4 thoughts on “Reading India, and the World

  1. ‘pick up a book based in or about every country on the planet.’ – This is such an ambitious project! I wish I could do this too, but would definitely fail to complete in one year. Might be a lifelong project for me. But damn interesting! Please share your progress, I’d love to track the books you read and add them to my list as well. And, I remember about reading your tryst with cooking :) keep writing.


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