Author – Sarika Pandit
While her B-School batch mates are busy scrambling for top jobs and grades, a restless Sarika dreams of putting on her running shoes and having all the pages of her passport stamped by the age of thirty.
What follows is a frenzied quest of not just collecting stamps but ticking off items off her ever-expanding bucket list: From learning the local language in Spain to an alcohol trail through Greece; from a tryst with Shakespeare and Jane Austen in the United Kingdom to an encounter with the Vampire in Romania; from straddling the border of two countries in the Middle East to a road trip through Morocco to the Sahara; each experience bringing her a little closer to reaching that final destination on her passport.
A journey of falling in love with globetrotting–this one promises to be one of the best roller-coaster reading experiences you will have this year.
My thoughts –
When Bharti from Fingerprint Publishing contacted me for review of three of their latest books, I was intrigued by Bucket List of a Traveloholic out of the whole lot. I immediately wrote back to her saying if not all of the 3, I would definitely love to read this one. I guess the travel bug in me wanted me to pick this one for sure or maybe because I have a long travel bucket-list too! 🙂 And I am glad I said yes for a copy of it!
Here is something from the prologue that I loved a lot –
“When I reached home that night, I woefully pulled out my passport and started flipping through its dog-eared pages. Somewhere midway I recalled the moments that were woven together with each stamp and, slowly, self doubt made way for satisfaction. It came with the realization that while I still had not saved up for a house, a fancy four wheeler, the latest iGadget or any of those milestones that is somehow supposed to define the livesof most people, each one of my travels had been a saving towards wider horizons and enduring memories of people, places and personal encounters; and I would not have traded them for absolutely anything in the world”.
And reading this I knew, I am in for a treat….and I was not wrong. 🙂
The book is actually a travel diary of the author, Sarika Pandit – her visit to various countries, her varied experiences in each one of them and ticking off items from her bucket list. Hers is how the book is divided into chapters –
- Learning a local language in a country – Spain
- Cruising the Nile – Egypt
- A Literary Trail of my favourite Authors – United Kingdom
- A Woman Backpacker in India – Khajuraho
- Travelling Back in Time through a moment – Florence
- Becoming a chocoholic – Brussels
- On an alcohol trail – Greece
- Encountering the Vampire – Romania
- Bumping into the Big Five – South Africa
- Being in two countries at the same time – From Jordan to Israel
- Road Trippin’ to the Sahara – Morocco
- Travelling with a Stranger – Helsinki
- Rediscovering Art (A writer and a sound) – The Czech Republic
- Visiting a country I had never heard of – Slovenia
- Twenty by Thirty – Croatia
Along with her experiences in the foreign lands, she has also written about how she managed all the travelling inspite of having a full time job. She juggled her leaves, money, itinerary, companions and the like in a very efficient manner. And after each chapter I was tempted to pack up and hit the road immediately! And after I was finished with the book, I was full of envy for this lady called Sarika Pandit. What she had said randomly once during her MBA days – “…….by the time I hit thirty, I shall have all the pages of my passport stamped” – was turned into reality by her, turning all odds in her favour.
I am finding it very difficult to write the review because throughout the book, I was travelling with the author –savouring the delicacies of each place, mesmerized by some of her unique experiences and meeting with people, roaming around in the streets of foreign lands & experiencing all the other good, bad and the ugly stuff. Though the book was an easy read, I preferred reading one chapter at a time – taking in the details slowly. I simply could not rush to the next one without soaking in the variety as well as uniqueness that each destination offered. I must confess that I learnt many new things about some countries.JThe author uses a smooth and easy language with humour thrown in now and then making it a pleasant read.
The only issue I had with the book is that the pictures shared by the author should have been in colour and they could have been included in the portions where the particular place is being talked about. But this definitely does not come in the way of enjoying the book at all.
Final words – Must read! It will definitely make you come up with your own bucket list and if you already have one, you will surely add a few more places to it! 🙂
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
Having loved the book so much, I contacted the author for an interview. She was quite prompt in her reply and her answers were in my inbox the very next day. Thanks a lot Sarika!
Me – First of all, congratulations for your first book. So how does it feel now that people are talking about you work and loving it too?
Sarika – Feels great 🙂 Writing a travel book has always been a dream and it’s great to see my experiences in ink and on shelves.
Me – Now, tell us something about yourself, something we don’t know from the book.
Sarika – Haha. Well, to be honest, I’m actually quite reserved as a person and not very comfortable talking about myself. My friends know this and so they are quite amazed that I’ve managed to write a whole book on incidents from my life.
Me – After your 20 before 30 list, have you drawn up another list? If yes, where do you plan to go next?
Sarika – My list keeps growing 🙂 I am very keen to visit Iceland and see the Northern Lights. I don’t handle extreme cold well, but for the Northern Lights I’m more than willing to brave the cold. I also want to see more of India, in particular North East and parts of South India.
Me – Do you feel travelling without a fixed itenary is the best way to explore and get to know a place?
Sarika – I am not a completely spontaneous traveller nor am I someone who likes a fixed itinerary and everything mapped out from point A to B. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I prefer to do a bit of research on places of interest and once I am there, I see them as is convenient and depending on my mood that day.
Me – Did you like the native food of every place you visited? What did you do if you did not like something in somewhere?
Sarika – By and large, yes I’ve liked the food wherever I have gone. I think it’s largely due to the fact that I am determined to keep an open mind and like it, even if it’s an octopus or an eel. And even if I haven’t liked the native food, there is a satisfaction in having tried it. That said, there’s only so long for which you can have it; I do miss home food after a while.
Me – Before quitting your job, how did you manage your leaves and the funds to go on frequent international trips? Please sure some tips, I desperately need some.
Sarika – The first thing I would do in the beginning of the year is look at the Holiday List and figure out when and around which holidays I can plan my leave.:) When I just started travelling, I’d take off every 3-4 months for about a week and try to cram as much as I could in those 9 days. Funds, well, to be honest, whatever I earned, I spent on travel. And books J Planning in advance helps. I had friends who were type A planners who were constantly on the lookout for cheaper flight / acco options. Also, I’m a very non fussy traveller. Most of my early trips were done on pure shoe string budgets.
Me – Are you working on another book or do you have plans to do so? How about writing a book on your travel experience within the country?
Sarika – I have written another book – fiction this time, which should hopefully come out soon. I want to continue freelance travel writing and yes, I hope to write more on India too in future.
Me – What is the best thing you like about travelling?
Sarika –I like the fact that you can forget yourself and your little world and just immerse yourself in a completely different way of life. Travelling is an escape, but it’s also one of the healthiest and most enriching forms of escape.
Me – Any tips you would like to share with other traveloholics, based on your experience of so many years?
Sarika – Reading up on the history of the place or watching a movie or two on it or from it before you go helps – you are able to have a better connect with the place. I’ve visited a couple of places without having done that and I regret it. My other tip would be to not be fussy and keep an open mind. If we choose to visit a certain place, its only fair that we adapt to it as best as we can.
Me – Your top 10 moments from your journey of ticking off items from your bucket list.
Sarika –Just ten? 🙂 I could go on and on here…but some that come to mind are: watching the Duomo at night in Florence; being up, close with two leopards in Kruger; communicating with the locals in Spanish in Valladolid; the drive from Leh to Pangong – completely out of this world; watching the Jews praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem – so moving; the Desert Safari in Wadi Rum in Jordan was magical; lying down under the stars in the Sahara, watching Taming of the Shrew in the Globe Theatre; enjoying a jazz performance in an underground club in Paris. Oh and finally, I recently went Scuba diving in the Andamans which was great.
I wish Sarika best wishes for all her future endeavours! 🙂
- The book was sent to me by Fingerprint Publishing and my opinions shared here are honest and unbiased.
- This review is linked to my Indian Quills Challenge 2014 target (read about the challenge here)