Eight years ago, in a serendipitous turn of events, Siyahi was given the opportunity to produce Bhutan’s Mountain Echoes Literary Festival – a ‘job’ which allows me to combine my love for travelling and reading to deliver one of the world’s most unique literary festivals.
We started with a simple idea – to inspire audiences to travel and discover the rich Himalayan culture and stunning landscapes of Bhutan and at the same time, use the context of literature to participate in an open discussion of globally relevant issues. Today, the festival is one of the most powerful celebrations of ideas, literature and dialogue, anywhere on our planet.
Every year, we see authors, participants and volunteers from world over attend the festival. Each traveller goes through a different journey to arrive in Thimphu – some are residents; others come from across the border while a few have to cross continents; some travel for a quick getaway while others undertake a longer journey to discover the beauty of Bhutan.
I was asked to come up with suggestions for an ‘ultimate travel book’ list, for every kind of traveller and every kind of journey. Here goes:
- For times when the journey of life gets too overwhelming and a vacation isn’t on the horizon, I suggest The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer. The book teaches us that it’s okay to want to slow down and tune out sometimes. The classic book proliferates the belief that there is an unexpected adventure in staying put occasionally.
2. Sputnik Sweetheart, by Japanese author Haruki Murakami is a personal favourite and a definite must have book for every book lover while packing for longer holidays. I recommend spending leisurely hours by the ocean with this captivating tale of unrequited love.
3. A book like Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, promises to be your perfect companion for lengthy train journeys. The evocative novel follows the journey of a family into their history as they move from war-torn Leningrad of sixty years past to modern-day Alaska and will keep you engrossed as the cities, mountains and rivers pass you by.
4.I recommend ‘Food Whore’ by Jessica Tom for time pressed travellers looking for a quick read during a short haul flight. A glimpse into the coveted world of fine dining in New York, the engaging novel is the perfect mid-air read.
5.For those food enthusiasts whose itinerary is centered around the best places to eat at in each city, there is Ruth Reichl’s delightful memoir ‘Tender At The Bone’. The collection of stories about people and food in Reichl’s life is perfect for those who know, love and take delight in a good meal.
Mita Kapur, CEO, Siyahi and Producer, Mountain Echoes Literary Festival