Do you love to travel and if so, why? Is it for experiencing the warm sun brushing against your skin while sitting in the hills and valleys? Would you prefer to see the orange hues of the sunset beside a beach? Does lazying under the starry skies and speaking your heart out to friends or fellow travelers catch your fancy? Or is delving deeper into a life unknown to search and discover the meaning and potential of your life, the true reason for your travels? Kartikeya Ladha’s recent book Life Unknown points out to discovering life’s little pleasures, far beyond the materialistic ones achieved through a mechanized lifestyle. While Ladha’s journey in the book begins in the scenic deserted beauty of Leh and Ladakh, his journey in life began way earlier when he quit his 9-5 job in the United States and went on an adventure to Peru. From the lap of nature in Leh to the holy city of Rishikesh to walking along the Western Coast, Ladha’s life has been anything but ordinary.
What is remarkable about the book is that society- its positives and fallacies are explored through the eyes of a discovering traveler. The lack of exaggeration and to-the-point description of places, journeys, emotions, and most importantly society’s interference in an individual’s personal life, makes this book relatable in every aspect.
Ladha points out a few crucial loopholes in the society that as a community one must immediately make amends to. Primary of which is the increased mechanized lifestyle that one leads. Ever since a child is born they are earmarked into certain ‘acceptable professions’ and pressurized to achieve the utmost specialization in it. The community never stops comparing one’s child with the clichéd ‘Sharma Ji ka beta’ and thereby pushes the child away from oneself as well as away from his/her self. It is easier to say Live and Let live but difficult to follow the same. This is followed by nosy aunties and neighbors who form an important part of any community. These gossip mongers of the society are the earliest ‘influencers’ in the world who have the power of words to make or break anything. Ladha’s strong will makes him break away from the clutches of a stereotypical society and lose himself in the country, discovering life through experiences.
Throughout Kartikeya’s travels, he brings out pertinent observations. While he makes friends with another traveler Shira, he talks about the differences faced by men and women when traveling. With women, safety is a prime issue. During his stay in South India, he feels someone trying to break into his room and questions the issue of security more sternly. Health forms a major factor while traveling and he carefully recounts his failing health on various occasions. This makes one understand that physique is an important aspect of traveling and Ladha’s truth in its description makes the readers live his story through his words.
When he is traveling through the West Coast of India, he comes across pristine clear beaches to extremely polluted ones. This makes one wonder about the actions of the people where they pollute and abuse nature to its fullest. On his halts in one of the Ashrams in the South, he experiences a clear case of racism where International and National Guests have different rules of accommodation.
Another case in point put forward by Ladha which has a profound impact on the readers is the definition of development. All countries big or small define development through their financial strength but what about the development of the people of the country? Should holistic development not feature in this definition? The number of suicidal deaths is on a rise. Mental health is slowly entering into mainstream illness and the focus on it is growing, to provide a healthy mind and the body to all.
Life Unknown gives a beautiful description of travels where one lets go of all inhibitions and imbibes lessons and experiences from Nature to lead a better life. Apart from the scenic beauty, Nature is the best teacher of unparalleled wisdom which no classrooms can impart to the children. It lets a wanderer discover life at ease. It shows that no job is big or small and that the innate survival instincts would make a man go far enough to do anything for survival. Travel is a reflection of ourselves and how small an individual is vis-a-vis Nature. It destroys the egoist demon within each one of us and instills the values of patience, perseverance, and service to enhance the values of our lives. It shows us how to connect by being disconnected from the gadgets that rule our lives nowadays.
How many times have you grown tired of your scheduled life and wanted to take a break – in the seaside or the mountains? Next time such a thought arises, do action your plans. It might do you good. Traveling the world broadens the mind to a potpourri of culture, art, and people, something that one should not miss at all! Highly recommended, Life Unknown is that book which you can carry on your travels across the country or the world; read while sitting in your cozy reading space, or enjoy quietly in a café while also absorbing the surroundings and making new friends.
No. of Pages: 397
Publication: Wild Ambro
Available on: Amazon
*I would like to Thank fellow book reviewer Siddhi Palande (aka Book Gobbler) for allowing me to review this book.