Title: Voyagers into the Unknown
Author: Ruchira Khanna
It begins with 'Arrival of the Birds' in the historic city of Agra. A city where chaos mingles with the beauty of history. 'Birds' are the tourists who are to join the tour of Raj Touristry - a tour that is more about resolving personal issues than just exploring the city.
In the beginning, it seems that the individuals are on a luxurious tour with a very capable guide, Raj. As we get to know the 'birds and their thoughts, it is clear that they are not here on a typical vacation. They are expecting more.
What is it, you wonder.
Ira is recovering from a broken relationship.
"One the outside, she was considered 'healed' but on the inside, her scars felt just as raw as the day she'd tried to end her life."
A fellow passenger in her flight asks her about her eagerness and her reply is - "Yes, I am seeing Raj. He is going to change my world and my perception."
The tension between Darci and Lennard Jensen is glaringly obvious. There is a brewing tension between them, making one wonder how they are still together.
"This trip will do wonders for your relationship", Darci thinks to herself.
Then there's Carl Baker, a seventy-five-year-old man with lots of money, but suffering from a severe lack of personal attachments.
Asha is a mystery. She is a widow from Delhi. She is alone, yes, but not lonely. What are the problems in her life that have brought her together with this dejected lot?
As the author describes the emotions of each of them including Raj and a few others, their struggles are revealed.
The past of each of them is told in italics after they are introduced in the story. They are all going through a troubled phase in their life. They seem to have lost their emotional anchor and that is what has brought them to Agra. A search for a resolution to their problem.
The motto of Raj's tour business is "Discover Yourself Amidst History!"
When I went to see Taj Mahal, the tour guide narrated the history of Shahjahan and Mumtaz such that I came back wondering if we were fools to consider Taj Mahal as a symbol of true love. That memory remains and so does the question, honestly.
But Raj's perspective negates the negativity in the history. And brings out a warmth.
It is this perspective of Raj that the author has used to give a beautiful hue, not just to the stories of the history, but also of the characters of the book.
Voyagers into the Unknown expresses a passion for the history of India. The author has mingled the many stories of the times gone by with the path to embracing for the future.
The author uses simple language and conversations to take the story forward.
I did feel that the change of heart, at times, is too sudden. Then I wonder, if it was really a change of heart, or was it just accepting one's subdued emotions.
As you can see, this book made me think.
My one concern is that the circumstances that lead to things falling into place are unusual. I would love to read about Raj in action in routine/other situations.
As the characters of Voyagers of the Unknown find varied resolutions to their problems - some obvious, others a little strange and too sudden, there is a positivity of faith.
So, much as I have my concerns about the circumstances being unusual, there is the belief of the aura of good people, faith and positivity making way for smiles and peace.
"All of humanity is suffering from one big problem, and is a loss. However, all of us strive for one big goal as well, and that is happiness."
This book is a good read, as it makes you question the tendency of letting a small problem breed into a huge strain on our relationships.
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The italicized text in quotation marks are quotes from the book.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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In the historic Indian town of Agra, you can find a very unusual tour company, which is owned by a charming young man named Raj. Although Raj's official job is to show off the historical landmarks of Agra, including the legendary Taj-Mahal, his true mission is to heal the souls of his broken "birds," as he affectionately refers to his tour participants. His business operates purely upon word-of-mouth referrals, ensuring that all of his tour members arrive in Agra with their hearts in their hands, ready for the spiritual growth and cleansing that Raj is known to provide. Healing the hearts of the spiritually damaged can be a difficult job, and in this particular tale, Raj finds himself faced with his most challenging tour group yet. First, there is Ira, a stunningly gorgeous but fragile young woman on the brink of suicide. Next, we meet Darci and Lennard, a couple on the verge of divorce. Then there is Carl, an irritable, antisocial workaholic who has burned all of his bridges. Lastly, we meet Asha, an elderly widow who still yearns for the company and comfort of her late husband. When disaster strikes the tour group, everything is thrown into jeopardy, including lives, relationships, and Raj's very reputation as a tour guide. Raj must find a way to lift the spirits of these five special travelers, even in the face of death and despair. Venture into the unknown and discover how Raj Touristry heals the brokenhearted, one soul at a time.
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