Wed, 26 Jun, 2019

Following the footprints of history

Exploring both present and past of sensitive regions in the Mddle East, her book is more than just a typical travelogue, says author Iwona Desouza

11th April 2019, 02:49 Hrs


Even in an age when most information about major travel destinations is available on the Internet, travel books are still loved and appreciated by readers because they present the world from the perspective of the writer, and are enriched by the knowledge and experiences of the author.

 In case of ‘Journeying through history’ the travelogue written by Iwona Desouza, it is the authors passion and knowledge for history, and the countries she travelled that promises to make the book interesting. 

“This book is not a typical travelogue that talks about where to go or where I went. It’s more about history. I searched for historicity in the places that I visited,” explains Desouza.  The book details the author’s travels in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, and will be released on April 13.

Referred to as MENA (Middle East and North Africa) in geopolitics, the region is considered sensitive and volatile by some, but Desouza did not encounter any such negative perceptions while embarking on her journey. 

“ No one told us any negative things. ALso, we went as a group of total 11 people. All areas that we toured were perfectly safe and the locals too were very helpful,” says the writer, adding that while Israel and Jordan were good, Egypt failed to live up to her expectations. 

“I certainly enjoyed the visit to pyramids, and the museums were pretty decent, but many structures and artifacts were not really well-kept. Also, there are some issues such as pickpocketing on Egyptian streets that you have to be aware of.” says Desouza, but concedes that Egypt offers delicious food. “Egyptian food is much similar to Indian food, but has its own unique flavours. Apart from that, I would recommend you try the ‘Maqlooba’ or ‘upside-down rice’ in Jordan” she says

Israel offered the best facilities, safety, and ease of access to commodities among the three destinations, but this region too has its own shocks to deliver, says Desouza “Everything from the facilities and service, to the weather was good in Israel, but I was shocked to learn of the differences and inequality between Israel and Palestine. While Israel is well-developed, Palestine, which lies just across the border is utterly neglected and poverty-stricken.” 

Speaking about travel writing, it is important for a travel writer to take lots of pictures, and mix as much as possible with the local populace, avers Desouza. “The main thing is to take a lot of pictures because that way you remember where you had been. 

Secondly, listen to local guides. If you are alone and happen to find a guide nearby explaining to other tourists, hang around and listen! Get localised books and talk to locals” she says. 

However, sometimes one comes across highly commercialised travel destinations or ends up hopping from destination to destination without truly coming in touch with the local culture. Such cases should be avoided, says Desouza. 

“When you select a tour package, make sure you get some free time to explore by yourself. In case of my tour, we were dropped some distance away from the destination so we got a chance to walk and meet and talk to locals,” informs the travel writer.