“It Was A Happy Trusting World, Then” is a travelogue set across a 3-month hitchhike through fifteen countries in the Middle East and Europe in 1971. The novel follows the detailed records of the journey three teenagers took back in the day, reflecting upon the changes we see in travel today vs travel in a completely different political and social landscape.
Title : It Was a Happy Trusting World, Then
Author : Vilas Kale
Published : 2017
Publishing House : The Write Place
Format : Paperback
Language : English
Pages : 110
Rating : 3.5/5
Vilas Kale (the author) and his two cousins, Kumar and Vidula, set upon a journey into the adventurous unknown in the early days of 1971, when they were nothing but a couple of teenagers on a shoestring budget (Rs. 4000 per head) with a lust to wander. Their journey starts in Nagpur and takes them all the way to Europe. This would be less than a 24-hour flight today but in those days, spans a time of three whole months. The modes of travel include mostly ship and bus, and they rely heavily on friendly strangers to help them through, including a few embassies who grant them free visas! (Imagine that!)
What I thoroughly enjoyed about the book was the meticulously jotted details of the trip, with carefully noted dates and places. Such detailing adds a lot of value as it gives you a clearer picture of the journey in its progress, day by day. The addition of photographs they took, to accompany the narrative, is a huge plus point in my mind. It gives the book the right touch of personalization, a visual to guide your mind while reading.
The author has a very simple, easy manner in his writing. It is clean and remains uncluttered of verbosity. Yet, there also lacks a very smooth transition of events as we see in most great dialogues. The book, in its fundamental state, simply documents the days one after the next, and while the journey is detailed, the description of the places they actually visited lacks colour and vibrance. Having said that, it was interesting to read how different things were back then. I compared photos from the book to ones I’ve taken on my recent trips, and the changes these cities have seen is incredible.
It makes for a quick, light read and an enjoyable one if you are a stickler for detail and travel like I am.
Vilas Kale, 66, leads an active life as a social worker and businessman in Nagpur, India, where he was born, brought up, educated and is settled. He has been able to successfully balance his business with his social work and activism and also pursue his many hobbies including a passion for travelling. The travel bug bit him early in life and he has travelled extensively in India and some 80 countries abroad. His wife Neeta shares his enthusiasm for travel. Vilas and Neeta like to meet people, share experiences, savour local culture and enjoy local food wherever they travel. He is an absolute vegetarian since his birth. Performing arts, music, painting and reading are his hobbies.
A big thank you to the author, Mr. Vilas Kale, for providing me with a copy for an unbiased and honest review.