*This blog post is also on my friend Rhea’s blog, since we both wrote it. Check that out too
Here’s why there’s two people who contributed to this blog post –
Finding someone who writes and reads with the same passion that you do is tough, but off late we’ve learnt that it isn’t impossible, in fact, it can be a lot of fun. Sharing is often a good thing. There’s an art to writing together and hopefully soon, we will learn how to do it “better than those chicks on TV who review movies together.” Until then, we’re just clubbing together our thoughts on a book that struck us both (right about the same time) as something spectacular, witty and definitely worth a read –
Travel is definitely up there – right at the top of my list. Someday, I hope, I’ll be travelling the world, wandering through undiscovered (or extremely well discovered) lands and stumbling upon little blocks of history to imprint upon my memory. One day, I’ll meet people from different corners of the world and talk, laugh and share experiences. I’ll experience the lifestyle, soak up the culture and indulge in the food. One day… I’ll have an adventure akin to the one Paul Smith had, prompting him to write Twitchhiker.
I can’t say I’d heard about Twitchhiker, which makes me feel a little ashamed, since I’m such a Twitter bug. What was I doing when all this was going down? And where was I when the book was released?
Thankfully I’m surrounded by people who like good books as much as I do and when I finally got hold of a copy, I was hooked. I read it on a day when I shouldn’t have had the time to read a book, and started off by thinking I’d browse through the first few chapters and put it away till the weekend. Of course, that didn’t happen. From cover to cover, the book enthralls, captures and definitely does not, at any point, disappoint.
The idea behind it is spectacular. If anyone had asked me (before the book released) whether it was possible to travel the world without buying tickets in advance (or, for that matter, buying tickets at all) or booking accommodation and making a travel itinerary, I’d have been quite skeptical, being the slight control freak that I am. And if anyone had mentioned using the goodwill of Twitter followers to steer you along the way, I’d have laughed outright. Paul Smith showed me it could be done though – and how!
It isn’t just a book about travel. It’s a book about life. It’s about little twists and turns and those tiny experiences that can make or break you. Traversing through bouts of frustration, joy, utter despair and utmost glee, there’s never a point during the book that you’re going to put it down and say “That’s it for today, reached a dull part.” I was hooked, like I said, from start to finish, so much so that I finished the book in a few hours.
Everytime he sets off to another place you’re going to wonder what he’s going to find, everytime he meets someone new you’re praying they’re all good people. Even though you know nothing has happened to him because he got home safely enough to write and publish the book, while reading it, you’re right there with him, learning how to trust complete strangers and finally realise that there are, in fact, some good people left in this crazy world.
As for the intricacies of plot and subject matter – I’ll leave you with Faye’s thoughts, there’s nothing more I could have said. Oh and if you’re insanely jealous and hate and love Paul Smith at the same time when you’re done reading the book – don’t worry – that’s completely normal!
This is my first attempt at writing a book review, and I’m not sure if I’ve met all the criteria for one, but here goes.
Twitchhiker could very well be the first book I’ve purchased off the shelf – without reading reviews, or having it being recommended to me. What attracted me to it? Well, as with many books – the plot. This man, Paul Smith, after being frustrated one day in a supermarket, decided to travel as far as he possibly could in the world using the help of people only from Twitter – in short, he was living a dream. It took me back to the days when I’ve been pushed and prodded on Mumbai locals, longing for solace. He took travelling on a budget to new heights, using all possible modes of transport and living in all kind of luxury, just, to inch closer to his destination.
There have been few books that I’ve really been attached to – and Twitchhiker is one of them. As Paul travels from Newcastle, UK to Amsterdam to Paris to New York and onwards, the reader waits just as anxiously as Paul to know where the Twitterati would take him next. Will he get his ride to the station to take his train? Will he be offered a place to stay after his bus journey? With the casual, yet detailed tone with which Paul retells his tales, you find yourself twitchhiking with him, standing by him through every journey he takes. It leaves you wondering what the headlines in India were when such a phenomenal story was playing out internationally.
This story could have been written by any other travel writer, and it wouldn’t have had such an impact. What encourages the reader to continue rooting for Paul, is the fact that he’s a normal guy like you and me. He works as a freelance writer with a family to support on a tight income. He doesn’t encounter luxury every day, and even when he does during his journey, you know he deserves it.
Even if many of us had to even devise such a plan, one of the reasons we would quickly extinguish it is because of a lack of trust in strangers. And rightly so! In a world where you can barely trust your friends, how do you blindly trust complete strangers? Paul encounters more than his fair share of people. With more than 11,000 followers on Twitter, and a few tweet-ups in several cities on the way, he introduces us to each one who helped him to get closer to his destination. And he definitely proved one thing – not everyone out there is waiting to steal, rape or even kill you. The world is still left with a big chunk of soft-hearted people waiting with open arms to welcome you into their home.
So does Paul complete the challenge he set for himself? Do the Twitterati give him all the support he needs? Where does he reach in 30 days? And how does he get back? Twitchhiker has all the details, written in the most personal, exciting and exhilarating manner by Paul Smith himself. I can guarantee not a single dull moment in the book.