Purappaadu – Book Review

This book in Tamil is Jeyamohan’s memoir of his young age travels. This is written 30 years later and as he says these stories are from his thoughts around the core instance/incidents.

Purapppaadu (புறப்பாடு) is a tamil word which means Stepping out or departure. This book is grouped in to two sections – one that he sets out during his college days and the other, post his college. These are NOT travels that one would normally think off – planned with some sort of sheltering/food and some money in hand. These are prolonged trips in months with no money, no planning, no place to stay. He does odd jobs to survive, stay in places that one wouldn’t wish to and depart from a place in the moment he wish to.

I started with a expectation of it to be normal travel memoir. And being a follower of his writings, i was curious to know about his travel experiences. But it turned out to be a impactful one and i wouldn’t dare to call this as “Travel”. This is more than that. At least to me, travel is something i have a place in mind, have some expectation of the place, do some (at times max) level of planning, safe place to stay and of course money till we come back for the expenses.

First part of the book talks about his stay with friends in a government youth hostel during his college time. He departs home after his dad’s remarks on him. He went on to stay with unknown students who are mostly first generation students from far off places, they are economically poor and he lives with them with bare minimal requirements including food, some times even with out that. He makes friends there, try to live their life, get to know their families, travel to their places and at one point he becomes one of them . But his thoughts and his learning goes forward multi-fold in every chapter.

Halfway through the college, he had to return back after an incident at the hostel. Which then followed by death of his close friend that torn him in to pieces. That impact made him to venture out again. But this time, its longer, to far away lands, new people, new places, different situations, different learning that shaped him in the early years.

There were different emotions that as a reader i had to go through and at many instances questioning myself what made him to take these journeys. And what made most of us not to do so. Why some people are dare-some and most of us are always safe/secured. People he met during these days – be it his friend, his co traveler in the train, friends he stayed with, co workers he had in the publishing house, owners from whom he took odd jobs and their life stories are to the core . These stays with us as real characters whom we met at some point in our memory.

These are short stories about existentialism, about ordinary people who are heroes in their own ways, about morality and more about the author that prompts to read more about his experiences/work.

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