Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: Travelling Light by Suma Verughese

A few lessons came first.

Within my office, once the book came in, it got lost! On enquiry, it was found that the young man sitting at the Communications Desk had got hold of it and begun to read it himself! After much cajoling it landed on my desk, but not before I had already promised to buy him another copy. Cheque paid and according to him, dispatched, it failed to show debit on my account. Even after much persuasion I was unable to coax the young man to give me the Way Bill number. I left it at that. His time with a soul-stirring book was perhaps over for now with just a brush. His time will come, in time, I am quite sure.

Finally, having read the book without once putting it down, I tried to read it like a Psalm. I opened to any page and read the chapter. Over and over again, each day, there was a message for me in it!

Suma Varughese’s book, Travelling Light is a compilation of her columns in Life Positive Magazine over the last few years, precisely, 2001 onwards. Pearls of wisdom interlace with trials and tribulations of daily life, the challenges of body and mind and the inevitable journey to Self realization, which may start in this life but may take several lives to complete. Or it might have started many lives before and may just about end in this one, with a satori. How else do you describe the author’s journey from Editor of one of mainstream’s most coveted magazines, to actually a transition to India’s first spiritual mainstream magazine, which was then just a start-up? Sixteen years of depression and one strong moment of Truth was all that was required to see Suma in her new avatar – then Bureau Chief of Life Positive Magazine, Mumbai. Today she is the Editor of the same magazine.

Mixed generously with subtle humour of our daily lives, the book provides a recipe to overcome and rise above petty but meaningful occurrences in our daily lives, to embrace the larger picture there is in that experience.

Life, when you come to think of it, is really an unmixed blessing. Everything, everything, has something to teach us. Nothing goes waste, nothing is bad, and everything works out for our ultimate good. A crow defecates on your brand-new dupatta is here to teach you tolerance and acceptance – how kind of the crow! A traffic jam gives you an excellent opportunity to experience your frustration and overcome it. How kind of those who engineered it! A manipulative colleague is here to teach you to overcome anger and a sense of victimization. It is good indeed of the colleague to take on such bad karma in order to help you grow.” – pg 62, An Unmixed Blessing

The message is clear – the present is the opportunity provided for our growth.

Suma Varughese is not Deepak Chopra. She is not here to give us quick-fix enlightenment. In fact, each chapter which has something from daily life and a lesson to learn from it, is almost as human as human can be; it is a story that all of us can connect with easily and hence the lessons too make more sense. Suma is as much the victim as all of us in this matter. Was it not only yesterday the guests came and the house help who had promised only in the morning that she would arrive in time to help with the dinner preparations, gave a last minute ditch leaving us to manage the entire dinner, after a hectic day at the office? Did not our blood boil along with the soup and did not our tongue itch to spit out the choicest gaalis, in M’s, C’s and B’s, but were forced to swallow the bitter anger along with the fresh lemon soda and a plastic smile entertaining the guests? It is only at night, after a four-course meal and when the last of the guests had left with happy bellies and we laid our weary head on the pillow that we heard a voice, no matter how feeble whisper – “Everything in the life of a Seeker is an opportunity to go within.” We bit our teeth, even as we thanked the Lord, for having taken us to this road of Self-realisation, albeit with its jerks and starts.

Divided into three sections, Self, Reflections and Society, this is what Travelling Light all about. A lesson waits for everyone, just like mine came even before I had set my eyes on it – no matter how much I want to share the book with that dear fellow at the Communications Desk, I must wait patiently, for his moment of journey to Self realization to become an active search.

So will you find your message for the day, every day in Travelling Light.

Name: Travelling Light Walking the Path of Letting Go
Author: Suma Varughese
Publisher: Magus Media Pvt Ltd., C153, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase I, New Delhi – 110020 Tel: 91-11-26902020; Fax: 91-11-26902090
Email: sales@lifepositive.net
To buy email directly to: laxman@lifepositive.net
Pages: 170
Price: Rs 195

About the author of the book: Suma Varughese is the editor of Life Positive magazine, India’s premier body-mind-spirit magazine. A veteran journalist with 30 years of experience, she was formerly editor of the popular lifestyle magazine, Society. A Seeker of the spirit, she is unmarried and lives in Mumbai with her mother, her sister and her cat.


Mridula said...

I can see from your review how much you have liked the book. I am quite stuck by the cover picture though and wonder which lucky soul took it?

Julia Dutta said...

Hi Mridula,
Thanks for visiting. I will try to find that out from Suma. It is a beautiful book and picture of course.

Durgasankar Mandal said...

Saw your intro at the end of this posting. It is slightly different, I noticed, from the intro in your profile.

Julia Dutta said...

In what way Durga?

Julia Dutta said...

It seems that my revelation that I live with my woman partner in Delhi would turn away some good friends. If it does, I will accept that my partnership preferences are more important to such friends than my writing. And that will be very sad. But my heart says otherwise - these friends are wiser than me:)
Thanks for your kind concerns Durga.

Dagny said...


The cover picture was out of this world.. but then it had to match the content... which it did... almost.

I am going to read this... sixteen years of depression and one moment of truth. Don't we all need it.. that one moment of truth...? But we must wait for it.. for it will not come until the journey within is completed.

I am sure the book can help in making the journey richer... by pointing out things I might otherwise miss.

You've reviewed the book beautifully... your love speaks in each syllable.. :)



Amrita said...

Sounds like a good book to read. Suma sounds like a practical person.Thanks for sharing the review.

Its true each episode of life haqs invaluable lessons for us.. When I was struggling to get my Internet connection restored I learnt a lesson of patience.

How is the Delhi heat treting you. Its around 45* here.

These day the honor killings are grabbing everyone' s attention. There was one in Alld. 2 days aqgo.

Amrita said...

Oh I made some typos , sorry

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Amrita,

Its a must read! And about Delhi weather? Gosh! I don't know Amrita! I am chilling in Shimla - 12 degs! Don't you envy me? ha! ha!


Julia Dutta said...


How lovely to see you here as well. My God! I swear it is a great book and a must read! Do read please...