Book Review – Candid Tales: India on a Motorcycle

It’s not often that we come across people who choose to take the ‘road not taken’. Adithi Rao does a wonderful job of introducing us to one such person in Candid Tales: India on a Motorcycle. As the title suggests, the book features a motorbike– a Royal Enfield in this instance, a rider and a series of explored and less-known corners of India. And, of course, a cast of interesting characters who pop up along the way and pep up the account.

Candida Louis was born and brought up in Hubballi, Karnataka. The account opens with a baby Candi bawling away, refusing to be consoled by anything her parents did to soothe her nerves until her dad hit upon the perfect plan: a ride on his Bullet. That did the trick. As Adithi writes:

‘Candida Louis cut twenty-six more teeth in the coming years. Never again did she spend another night crying.’

This started a ritual that began with Candi sitting ensconced between Mummy and Daddy until she was ready to ride up front, sitting on the petrol tank leaning forward to rest her hands on the handles, her father’s warm, big hands on top of hers. ‘And this was the ritual they followed every time. Every time until one day as they were riding cheerfully along … Candida looked down and found that her father’s hands were no longer holding the handles. Hers were the only ones there!’

When she was thirteen, she rode a motorbike a long distance before she crashed into a tree because she didn’t yet know how to use the brakes! After that, there was no stopping Candida. As she went through school, college and even a stint at a job, her dream grew bigger and bigger: to ride across India on a motorbike. By the time she was 24, she was off on a journey spread over five months.

Neatly blending fact and fiction based on stories that Candida shared and some solid research laced with a rich imagination, Adithi Rao brings to readers an inspiring story of adventure, courage, determination and the patience to see dreams transform into reality. Her words bring alive the many places Candida vrooms her way to and through: Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh; Banaras; Khardungla Top which, at 18,380 feet above sea level, is the highest motorable road in the world; Gurais Valley in Jammu and Kashmir; Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry…

There are many surprises in store, both in terms of information as well as experiences. For instance, did you know about a temple dedicated to a motorbike? Yes! A pilgrim at the Parshuram Mahadev Temple near Pali in Rajasthan tells her, she must definitely visit Om Banna on the way to Jodhpur. When Candida checks this out on good old Google, she discovers that it is definitely her kind of place: the deity is a motorbike. But to know the story behind this story would require reading the book!

Then there is a lovely moment when Candida gives motorbike rides to a whole bunch of little girls in a school in Gurais Valley, not to speak of coming face to face with a mountain named after Habba Khatoon, a famous Kashmiri poet. Of course, there is also a rather comic face-off with the Indian Army along the way, possibly recounted with masala add-ons! Like many travelers who have gone before, Banaras is an experience in itself. In Adithi’s words, as she describes Candida leaving this city many believe lies at the centre of the Earth, ‘Candida turned to look at it (Manikarnika) one last time. She saw fires and smoke, and logs of wood. She saw people sitting there and watching the pyres. At first, she had thought that this was life witnessing death. But she had been wrong. In Banaras, there was no death. There was only Life witnessing the passing of life. The first ray of the sun peeped over the horizon and fell upon the still waters of the Ganga and all the people on it. ‘Banaras,’ whispered Candida softly to herself. ‘City of Life…’

The author captures Candida’s adventurous nature with vivid detail and interprets her inner spirit with sensitivity and humor to bring to readers a story of passion and perseverance. Yet, it’s not all slam, bang, boom. There is a stillness in the writing that enables this passion and perseverance to motivate readers to identify their own dreams and find the courage to pursue them.

बाल-साहित्य: किताबों की एक महत्वपूर्ण, अद्भुत और बढ़ती हुई श्रेणी

बच्चों की किताबें अभी भी पढ़ता रहा,कुछ पत्रिकाएँ भी,और इनके लिए कुछ कुछ लिखता भी रहा।…

Arun Kamal Parag Reads 30 July 2021


क्यों ज़रूरी है बाल साहित्य की बेहतरीन किताबों की सूची

बच्चों के सामान्य और स्कूली जीवन में बाल साहित्य की अहमियत को सभी स्वीकारते हैं। बच्चों के चहुँमुखी व्यक्तित्व (समग्र) विकास में साहित्य की महत्त्वपूर्ण भूमिका होती है।…

Gurbachan Singh Parag Reads 16 July 2021