Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Review: The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love

Following an astrological prediction gave to him at birth, the enamorated Pradyumma Kumar, alias PK, decided to leave behind his life in India and cycle as far as Sweden to meet his beloved Lotta, a hippy girl he shortly met in Delhi. This is just the end of a story, which has also a lot to say about the discriminatory caste-based system in India and PK's first hand encounters as an 'untouchable', the lowest caste according to the Hindu-imposed ideology. 
The stories about his isolation are coming up and again into the story - after a while I felt slightly annoyed by the repetition -, which has also an interesting travel-related dimension, as it features the passage through Afghanistan and Iran, on the way to Europe. It looks like an open world, welcoming hippies from all over the world mesmerized by the lights and miraculous visions of the Far East, a world that in the last 3 decades closed progressively until becoming hermetic to most of the free-minded Europeans. The book succeeds to portray very well the personality of PK, from his hard early university years of sleeping on the stone floors of the train station in Delhi, until his unique encounters with the liked of Indira Gandhi and the cream of the Indian society. Thanks to his artistic talent, he succeeds to undone his socially assigned status, showing to himself and the rest of the Indian society how unjust and ridiculous the religious limitations are. 
There is a little bit of everything in this book: sad stories of a situation that seems so overwhelming that only suicide looks like the only solution out; hope and delivery as he sees how the work of his hands brings him comfort and fame, one drawing at a time; hilarious situations as when he realized, a couple of days already into his biking adventure, that his final destination is Sweden, not Switzerland; resilience and courage to start a new life despite the obvious dramatic cultural, linguistic and personal challenges. 
This book can offer motivation and some travel writing insights and also an interesting historical background. Strongly recommended to anyone longing for far away 'exotic' destinations - warning: things in the mind mirror might be exagerately magnified - or trying to start over a new life in a new country.

Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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