The art of travelling simple

The art of travelling simple

The nitty-gritty of travelling in a book which is more than a standard travel book

Anees Saigal
September 03 , 2014
01 Min Read

As the reviews on the jacket will tell you, Rahul Jacob is a “natural cosmopolitan”, straddling cultures, countries and continents with an ease that could put a diplomat to shame. Jacob is an effortless authority on travel — without any of the self-importance that is a frequent side-effect of such internationalism. His is an enthusiastic, articulate and often self-deprecating voice, always revelling in the people he encounters en route.

He is the travel, food and drink editor of the Financial Times in London, and this book is a collection of articles published in FT. 'Travelogues' actually comprise one-fifth of the book, an interesting departure from standard travel books. His approach - to be led by his “obsession of the moment even at the risk of occasionally missing much else”, so each piece is a musing on a particular theme, location or perspective. This “tunnel vision” works wonderfully, as in the case of his “magical music tour” of Dakar. In contrast, his piece on New York is guided by an impulse far more personal, for it was his first place of work. Through his awestruck early years at Fortune magazine, he describes the “make believe quality” of the city as a starting-point.

Although each section is fascinating in its own right, 'Confessions of a Frequent Flyer' is the most endearing. It's a testament to his love of travel for the sake of it: this is a man who actually prefers economy class for its “complete absence of interruptions for ten-twelve hours”, and makes a solid case for travelling by train. Jacob is a proponent of holidays that “help us reflect on our lives” — whether by avoiding the traps and queues of mass tourism and peak seasons, or simply enjoying the good company and slow pace of a family holiday. In matters of travel, over-description can leave you over-satiated by a place you haven't even visited. Like the best of writers, Jacob describes his journeys just enough to leave you wanting for more.


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