After a long time, I picked up a travelogue and I am happy to say that the book I chose did not let me down. When the Road Beckons by Ravi Manoram is a travelogue of a man who takes a journey to Ladakh on his motorbike. While this book, on surface, appears to be the story of a man riding his bike on the difficult roads of the Himalayas, this book is also an exploration of true meaning of one’s life. Ravi’s journey to the difficult terrains of the Himalayas tested his nerves and made him fight with his deepest fears. This, in turn, helped him to find out not only his inner strength, but also transformed his personality. His innermost fears slowly but surely vanished, and he became a person who is capable of controlling his own destiny.
Some way or another, Ravi has managed to write different stages of his journey to the region of Ladakh without creating a monotonous tone. Each chapter feels fresh and different. The author writes with both intellect and humour. He has the power of observation, certain elegance and a captivating style in his writing. All of these add up to the narrative and make this book a beautiful read. There are certain moments in the book that will take your breath away. The description of places has been done in such a way that you feel like you are actually travelling to these places. You imagine those places in your mind while taking a break from reading and clung to those imaginations for a long time. In fact, I got so enchanted by the description of some of the places described in the book that I searched them on internet and enjoyed the beauty of these places further by viewing the images of these beautiful places. It is not that there are no pictures in the book. The author has incorporated some selected ones in the book but their number is very less. And, this made me thinking that the inclusion of some more pictures of the places visited by the author in the book could certainly have enhanced the reading experience. It is a self-published book and the author had full liberty to do so. (Recently, the author clarified to me that earlier the plan was to add pics of Ladakh in the book but it would have escalated the cost of the book. Therefore, he had to kill the idea to keep the price of the book low.)
Overall, this book is a right balance of travel accounts, personal observations, engaging dialogues, historical facts and geographical descriptions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book except the last part where a number of pages have been devoted to spiritual teachings. These spiritual teachings have been given in the form of lengthy monologues which gradually get on your nerves. Some of the monologues run up to three pages. It seems that the author became self-centric and forgot about the readers while writing these lengthy sections. These lengthy monologues either could have been incorporated in the book in an interesting manner or could have been completely avoided.
This book is a nice read both for people who love their bike more than anything else and for readers who love reading travelogues. This book may also be liked by the readers who love reading self-help books. Now, the region of Ladakh has entered into my list of places to visit in future and the entire credit for the same goes to this book. Do not miss this wonderful read!