Monday, July 25, 2011

An Unexpected Disappointment.

It is not often that I am compelled to express my disappointment with things. However, of all the things, this time, a little book left me disappointed. Books are ideally supposed to elevate me from whatever lows I am traversing through. This time, the reverse of it happened. And I do not reckon I am overstating even a bit. It was a book which I almost bought about ten times, but a quick calculation of the sum left in my already very light wallet had I actually bought it prevented me from doing so. Why I wanted to buy it? Simply because it appealed to my eyes. Its cover is a remarkably attractive shade of purple, with a title that would certainly make the non-guilty fans of chick-lits like me salivate. "Hello, I Love You, Good Bye"- Now I know that being in love with chick-lits is kind of derogatory for people who call themselves devotees of literature, but for once, just think yourself to be a fan, or at least fond of these light, funny and romantic tales and imagine how imaginative this title can make you. It certainly influenced me, to my huge despondency but.

For all those who looked down upon me when they caught me reading this supposed chick-lit, let me tell you, its not. Okay fine. My fault. I should have checked. It is not even proper fiction. What am I saying? It is not fiction at all. Not a story, but a travelogue. Now, travellogues should be exciting, shouldn't they? This one was not, because of the anachronistic setting. This book is the tale of  world odyssey undertaken by the protagonist, the author himself, who does only a decent job of creating imagery of the places he visits. Quite frankly, his travels would not even enthrall you for the lack of imaginative element if you do not occasionally flip over to the black and white photographs he has made the effort of including. Having said all of this, what I did truly enjoy were

1.the little anecdotes littered here and there in the book suggestive of the human touch which subtly binds the world together,

2. the learnings acquired by experiences both harsh and sweet,


3. the travels near and within the subcontinent, which despite belonging to an anachronistic global political scenario sounded familiar- closer home.

Wondering what such a catchy title has got to do with a tale of travels? Well, the most genuinely deserved compliment I can bestow on the author is for the choice of title, which, in the most laconical manner establishes the very essence of the predicament and desires carried by the author in his heart throughout the narration. Apologizing for the unavoidable usage of slang henceforth, this is the story of a frustrated and hapless and indecisive man, who looks forward to screwing a female at every stop during his journey, but for reasons too many to remember, is never able to. His interactions with women- sometimes fellow tourists, sometimes arcane locals, and at other times plain whores,- somehow remain restricted to saying a hello, building a conversation, and developing feeling. The next step towards the actual act invariably ends up in a dejection- a goodbye- sometimes fond, sometimes difficult. And, at every such encounter he is reminded of his (assumed) lady love back home, who for her own insecurities had rejected his proposal before the beginning of his expedition, but he is positive that one day, probably at the end of his trip, he will win her back. Does he? I would not tell, for I do not know. It is a tiny book, which for the lack of intrigue even after reading 80% of it, I had to abandon before the climax. Of the story of course. Oh, just to mention, this lady love of his, he did not have any luck with her too. That is where it all started, you see.

As for rest, I would request you not to be fooled by the very beguiling book jacket, which you will come across many a times at local book stands. The popularity of Mr. Steve Reichstein authored memoir may be guessed from the fact that a google search yields not even a single review- good or bad- of this book. Mine is the first. If  you do happen to google it, you might just be tempted to assume I am lying, for you will come across the review of a book called Hello, Good Bye, I Love You but please, do notice the subtle difference in the title. This one is not the tale of a frustrated traveller, but a 'touching tale of a guide dog for the blind', as one the review quotes it.

Read at your own peril.

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