Last Updated on May 4, 2021 by asoulwindow
When Places Come Alive: Travel Book by Ami Bhat
I have been voraciously reading interesting travel blogs by Ami Bhat since many years now. I always loved the way she would share interesting details about places from around the world in her own unique style. It is thus logical to grab her maiden book as soon as it was released. ‘When Places Come Alive’, travel book by Ami Bhat took me by surprise. And a pleasant one at that!
About When Places Come Alive
‘When Places Come Alive’ is a collection of 10 short stories from around the world. This is exactly what I knew about this travel book before I bought it. Is it a travel book? Fiction? Personal Essay? Travel Guide? As I buried my nose in her book, I was pleasantly surprised at how each story unfolds. The stories are a beautiful blend of facts, fiction, myths and travelogues of places as diverse as Australia and Nepal.
I have personally never read or heard of a book with such narrative in travel genre. I loved the original idea of the book, a brainchild of Ami. It is armchair travel at its best. It talks about things which a traveler might miss out on during his or her travels. We all know about these places. But do we really know them well?
Why When Places Come Alive is worth a read
Impressed by her very unique narrative, I started reading the book When Places Come Alive at a speed not known to me. Curious to know what lies ahead, I raced through the book, yet scared to finish it early. I normally take a lot of time to read any book. Even if it is a simple book with easy language, I take months to finish it. I loved how Ami brings alive the diverse cultures, history, languages, traditions and even costumes in each of the story. It is a labor of love indeed.
I finished ‘When Places Come Alive’ within few days thanks to the gripping narrative and curiosity of what happens next. The book sure is unputdownable. It is also a very easy to read book and the stories are crisp, making it ideal for those with less attention span.
Theme of the book
True to its name, the stories in ‘When Places Come Alive’ reveal the nuances of the destination it is set in, one layer at a time. The stories are set in places as different as a small village in Rajasthan to 18th century Italy. The stories are told in a very unique format. It introduces the place to the readers through its people, folklores, history, legends and mysteries.
Thanks to my own extensive travels across India and other nations such as Sri Lanka, U.A.E, Bhutan, Jordan etc I have always believed that places are all about people who inhabit it. Ami in her first book shows how in a subtle way.
Plot of short stories
Without giving away too much of the plot, let me give you an idea of the themes of her stories as below:
‘The Eternal Cycle Of Life’, set in Varanasi left me with goosebumps as I turned pages. It also slowed me down as a reader as I wanted to absorb the deep meaning of the story. I was born in the holy city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Known as the abode of Shiv Bhagwan, this story talks about ancient Kashi, the original name of Varanasi or Benaras. The way this story connects past to present, myths with reality and culture with religion is commendable.
The deeply personal story called ‘The Home Coming’ left me in tears. Emotionally moving, this I felt was the story which struck a cord with me the most. I could relate to the story on many levels. Just like me, who always wanted to pursue my dream of becoming travel blogger (and did), the protagonist of ‘The Home Coming’ went through same ordeals. I could find myself in that character.
This story was also unique because of its unusual narrative. This story was written in an interview form with many heartwarming flashbacks from the childhood of the protagonist. This story was heart touching indeed!
Not much is known about the landlocked Happy Nation Bhutan. I had visited Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Haa Valley twice. Phobjikha valley know for its virgin landscapes eluded me at both trips, despite being so close to Paro and Thimphu. Every winters, the black necked cranes visit Phobjikha valley in large numbers. There is a secret behind it which Ami tells us through her fluid narrative in ‘Return of the Souls’.
Known as the only Hindu nation in the world, the Hinduism followed in Nepal is quite similar and yet different from Hinduism followed in India. One such feature of Nepal is the concept of Kumari or the living Goddess. Ami delves into the mysterious life of Kumari and educates us of an ancient tradition through dramatic narrative and historical facts. ‘I am Omnipresent’ is a powerful melange of culture, society, tradition and religion.
‘Sparkling Secret’ was a pleasant departure from all the other stories of the book. Part fantasy, part fiction, part facts, it takes the readers to unknown places in Gold Coast in Australia.
We have all heard of the Ghost Village of Kuldhara near Jaiselmer in Rajasthan. In ‘Where Did She Go’ Ami takes us back to the old days, explaining the hows and whys through a gripping period drama.
‘Conquering Emotions’ set in Chiang Mai in Thailand is another story which I could relate with. Needless to say, this story made me cry as well. It was a coming of age story of a son told in the backdrop of Thailand of bygone eras. This heartwarming tale is a must read!
This period drama called ‘One For All’ set in ancient Indonesia talks about the legend of Princess Mandalika. The story explains an unknown legend of Lombok which I am sure you had no idea about, even if you have been there earlier. Set in ancient Indonesia, I loved the way Ami paid attention to detail. From language to traditions, from culture to costumes, Ami was successful in bringing alive that era.
We all know about Casanova. But how much do we know him really? I had no idea he lived such a colorful life until I read this story. Though the story doesn’t directly talk about his flings with women, it talks about how he got in trouble with the law and managed to escape unscathed. This amusing story called ‘The Midnight Masquerade’ made me laugh and got me curious to know more about 18th century Italy from Casanova’s times. It is a quirky and fun tale with a touch of history!
Thousands of years ago, when Alexander arrived in India, he faced tough fight from Indian ruler Porus. Finally he and his army had to leave India on protest by his own tired soldiers. But not everyone left India for Europe. Some stayed back and still live in the Dah Hanu Village in Ladakh in North India. They call themselves Aryan. ‘The Last Village’ tells us their story. How they ended up not leaving India ever. I would like to believe this story as they look very different from people of Ladakh and elsewhere in India.
Narrative of When Places Come Alive
The narrative of the book When Places Come Alive is crisp, fast paced and riveting. While reading the book, I was curious of what happens next in the story. I am sure Ami did a great job of editing her book to make it crisp. The stories also encouraged me to know more about the place and the stories associated with it. No wonder, Ami Bhat is also one of India’s best travel bloggers.
The stories are told in such a way that it piqued my interest in the place. Luckily she had written a detailed blog on the destination of each of the stories. And the good part is that you don’t even need to Google it to access her travel blogs. At the end of each story, Ami shares some facts about the places or its tradition/folklore followed by a bar code which can be used for reading her detailed blogs.
How to buy When Places Come Alive
Personally I prefer hard copy of any book I read. I love the smell and touch of a book. You can buy both paperback as well as Kindle version. I had ordered When Places Come Alive from the website of Notion Press. You can see all the easy options to buy When Places Come Alive here.
About Ami Bhat – Author of When Places Come Alive
Ami Bhat is one of the most sought after travel bloggers from India. With ‘When Places Come Alive’, she has also become an author. Not only has she traveled to nice offbeat places in India but also to international destinations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Australia and many places in Europe.
She has also won many awards and received worldwide acclaim. Ami is a full time travel blogger who has worked with many tourism boards, airlines, brands and luxury properties from around the world.
You can read her detailed travel blogs at Thrilling Travel and plan your next holiday. The best part is that the access to all the valuable information on her blog is for free. What’s not to love? I also like that she writes in depth articles on her blog with lots of high quality images she clicks herself. Ami Bhat blogs at Thrilling Travel
You must pick up a copy of When Places Come Alive by author Ami Bhat. Despite being her maiden book, Ami deftly handles the plot and narrative, thanks to her years of penning travelogues at her travel blog Thrilling Travel. After reading her debut travel book, I am excited to read sequels to the first book of Ami already. Do read ‘When Places Come Alive’ to rediscover the places you have already visited. Thank me later!
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