Status: Read from Aug 23 to Aug 24, 2017
My rating: /5
Author: Lekshmi Gopinathan
She is not your regular hero!
What do you do when life splits you open, cracks your soul and leaves you beyond repair?
Twenty six, she travels armed with her ukulele and dragger. This is her escapade.
A tale of pain, hope, strength and resilience spanning three years and weaving through Pokhara, Jaffna, Srinagar, Hyderabad, Bangalore, New Delhi, Gorkha, Varanasi and Mcleodganj. A medley of relationships, memories and heartening music.
A legendary nomad, an Aghori, a young boatman, a war refugee, a poet, a yogini, a Rastafarian, a camel rider, an actor and an entrepreneur come together in a heart wrenching adventure.
This is not your regular story.
Karma’s Ukulele: Don’t you think this title is very vague? Vague and catchy. But you will understate it only after you read this book.
This is story of a vagabond who is fierce and rude, for whom travel is an escape. From what she wants to escape, that’s reveled somewhere at the middle of the book ( but this was quite predictable ). She travels across ten cities, meets ten strangers. And every character in the book are as interesting as the protagonist.
The story is narrated in an random order, woven intricately in past and present moving forward beautifully. The protagonist’s name is not revealed till the end of the book. She goes by different names in different places – Sita, Parvatee, Bani, Durga, Arya, Naina, each becoming part of her journey. Though this book is work of fiction, it does have description of real events that affected the place and left the place shattered ( just like our protagonist). It’s said, travelling new places and meeting different type of people add to your experience and makes you more mature not to judge or be opinionated towards strangers. Every person has a reason, a story that make them remain indifferent towards others. Pain does not always shatters you, but in turn makes you more stronger. You meet various gypsies and artists on your way, with a polite smile but carrying a broken soul inside just like you. And in the process you are healing them and healing yourself without your own knowledge. Not only that, you connect to people, you touch their lives and make memories. This is what is emphasized in this book.
There are few repetitive statements ( for instance: Did I tell you, I hate all men?) and in the beginning the story feels like being stretched. But with the swing of narration between past and present and involvement of new characters make the plot quite interesting. There are parts, which are little depressive narrating self harm and negativity, which i feel in needed to show that even one feels empty and lost everything in life, there is still hope and a reason to keep moving. The language is very expressive and filled with thought provoking quotes here and there. The book also highlights the past events and natural disasters in certain places that makes life difficult for the local people ( the Kashmir valley effected by regular terrorist attacks, Jaffana in Sri Lanka affected by the civil war between the govt. and LTTE, Gorkha in Nepal severely hit by earthquake).
All in all, it is a journey of making peace with inner self with the flaws and accepting oneself, because even with the emotional scars, there are people who make this life worth living.
About the Author:
Lekshmi Gopinathan is a social entrepreneur and run an art project called Project Kalayatra, where she document indigenous art forms and artisan communities in India. It’s a not for profit, its gives a platform where travelers get to meet the local artists and live with them.
Lekshmi is a trained journalist, having produced documentaries for NDTV and also done undercover sting operations for environmental conservation. She has worked closely with publications like The Better India to spread awareness about the local dying art forms.
She quit her full time job a year ago to become a full time nomad. She travelled to four countries and thirty three cities last year. Karma’s Ukulele is inspired by her own life and stories she heard from the nomads she met as she travelled. Karma is an amalgamation of many people and yet is one single identity.