“I haven’t been everywhere, but it is on my list,” said the writer Susan Sontag. Mine too, but while I am at it, Siddhartha Sarma’s eclectic, enjoyable book, 103 Journeys, Voyages, Trips and Stuff has kept me company for some years now. The sort of book that you can read at one go or dip into whenever you feel like it, Sarma writes about travellers and travels of every type and stripe. From seafarers and mountaineers to underwater explorers and train voyagers, the book takes you on an exciting journey of discovery – to the far ends of the world, across the seven seas, up the highest mountains and deep down into the bowels of earth.
Of course, there’s Columbus and Vasco Da Gama and the Wright Brothers and Ibn Battuta, but where Sarma’s book sparkles is when he writes of offbeat trippers like Thor Heyerdahl (who floated across the Pacific on a raft made of the lightest timber in the world) and Gemelli Careri (who backpacked around the world; what’s the big deal, did you ask? Well, he did it 300 years ago!) and even the bar-tailed godwit (the ultimate travel champion on the planet because this amazing bird holds the record for the longest non-stop flight among birds – wait, there’s more – and the longest non-stop travel without feeding among any species on earth!).
Shortlisted for the 2009 Vodafone Crossword Award, 103 Journeys, Voyages, Trips and Stuff is just what any young (and old) armchair traveller needs to get off his armchair and start travelling!
Meanwhile, another lovely travel book – this time in pictures and nonsense verse – is Anushka Ravishankar’s Wish You Were Here. A freaky family that likes nothing better than to roam the world goes here, there, everywhere, and sends fabulous postcards to a stay-at-home relative. And who makes up this travelling family? Well, Nephew Undawattah is at the Great Barrier Reef and Aunt Parapetta is climbing the Great Wall of China, while Brother-in-law Laa Vaa sends a sob story from Mount Fuji-Yama and Sister Tauchberra – you guessed it! – is at the Statue of Liberty. A witty collection of traveller’s tales that will have your child (and you) rhyming and chuckling at the same time!
Why two travel books? Well, it was World Tourism Day on 27 September and I wish I was travelling somewhere instead of sitting in front of my computer!