Travelthon Tales by Anuj Tikku is an interesting read. More precisely, it is not a boring travelogue or travel diary of a random tourist, rather, a book with stories of varied backdrops. The collection, in all, has 13 riveting short stories that the author heard or came across while travelling around the world.
As you begin drowning in the book, one fact ossifies that Anuj Tikku is a well-travelled celebrity. Through these stories, Anuj just not takes his readers to places but also introduces them to the reality, history, and life insights of others that we do not get to see when we are confined in our homes.
In the story, 'A Tour Guide's Day', he exposes the everyday struggle of a tour guide of Chittorgarh. How that guide was excited to have a big client for the day so that he can pay the school fee for his daughters. On the back of the Rajput history, and with mean traits, the guide puts all efforts to bewitch his client of the day. On the other hand, the traveler gets into the dilemma while listing to stories, as the history suggested women otherwise. Overall, the story succeeded in conjuring up the contemporary challenges of a modern-day tour guide in a place where the realms of history lie open to tourists’ vulnerability and today’s parody of contradiction.
The stories have backdrops of countries like Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many Indian places like Katra, Agra, Mumbai, and also tribal people who live inside the wildlife sanctuaries. The last story, ‘Once Upon a Time in a Forest’, the author has subtly presented the intrigues of wildlife enigma. It was also evident as how humans disturb the nature and pattern of animals, and the result leads to the conflict of interests. Well, this story also has some suspense elements.
Stories like 'My Dad – My Bheema Shila' and 'The Ghost in the Cemetery' are based on Tikku's personal travel stories, where he felt a sense of attachment for his late father. Remembering father through stories is a good way of paying respect and tribute to one's father. That's a lovely gesture from the author.
Other than sheer travel stories, there are stories that basis build on migration or when someone is rendered homeless. Sold to Taliban, told in three parts, is a perfect story that weaves the craving of freedom and love in one's life. It was interesting to note how Bollywood people (indirectly) helped one young girl escape from the clutches of a Talibani.
Not just travel, there are many aspects that inevitably get covered with these 13 stories. The language of the book is easy-to-understand, with no glaring grammar glitches. Overall, a good book for story and travel lovers. Anuj Tikku is a famous face in Bollywood, you can always read more about his other books.