I have had this book for few years now and now that I have read it, I feel I am late in reading it by a decade or so. The concepts and the changes that books talks about have become so much an integral part of our lives by now that the book seems irrelevant. But nonetheless I read it, from first to last page, because I could relate to most of the things being said. It talks about the feeling of not belonging to anywhere co existing with sense of belongingness even in the alien places and with absolute strangers. Unlike the last Pico Iyer book that I read, which talked about places that would not be noticed if they fell off the map, this book talks about places which most of us would have traveled to, lived in,have friends in or least transited by sometime. So the places are very familiar, even if you have not visited them, you would have seen them and heard about them from various media all around you.

He talks about the generation which is so mobile that it does not belong to any one place, and is quite comfortable in unknown settings. He talks about people of one ethnic origin, growing up in another continent, living and making their careers in third and probably having their loved ones in the fourth, leaving the fifth one for vacations and visits. He talks about the jet setters who create a small home for themselves wherever they are on the planet and their actual or base homes actually look like a transit lounge. He talks about airports where you have people from all corners of the world but no one belongs to that place, a perfect microcosm of the world, where people come and stay for a while and then go for their next destinations. He talks about cities which are entirely composed of migrants from various places.

He talks of California, which is home to migrant communities, Atlanta when it was hosting the Olympic games, Toronto which has everyone who has come from somewhere else but have made it their home, Hong Kong and finally Japan. While talking about interior Japan, author becomes very personal and I am not sure if many people would relate to what he says. The book does get repetitive in many places and it is the same point that author keeps repeating through the book and you get a sense of Déjà vu.

There are some interesting quotes that I like in the book, like:

  • A lack of affiliation may mean a lack of accountability, and forming a sense of commitment can be hard without a sense of community.
  • The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.

To add my own spice, I read this book while I was traveling back and forth between Bangalore and Pune, amidst all kinds of people from across the country, and in Pune where I stayed with a Polish friend who has chosen to live in India. And before this trip this book has traveled with me to various places, but as I always say probably my time to read it had yet not come.

Recommendation: I think you are too late now to read this book…:-)

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