A few inches forward and then an abrupt stop! The honk of horns, tapping of fingernails on the window by a distressed looking woman holding a young child…I was stuck in traffic being shuttled somewhere between Jaipur and Sawai Madhopur, the small town famous for hosting Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. I paid no mind to the sights just inches outside a thin layer of glass for my head was buried in a new book. As the vehicle lurched between obstacles, the street noise played like an old favorite raga in the background of my mind as I rapidly scanned the pages of my book, eager to know how a new found heroine would emerge victorious from her latest escapade.
This wasn’t the latest “who-done-it” caper novel, rather an amusing tale of one woman’s India adventure. A journey that started and ended like many traveler’s stories. That is until an impending divorce forced the author to make some tough choices. Choices which led her back to India, and an environment where she, like many other travelers before her, found solace and direction.
I purposely sought out a copy of Henna for the Heart-Broken while in Delhi, believing it was a book that would feel even more authentic while I acted as a vagabond among the countryside of India. As the author recounted her story, each page left me thinking about my own travels in India, specifically how I too felt healed by India. Even when all signals pointed toward happy endings in my life, a trip to India came when I needed a subtle push to keep striving toward my goals, to stay humble in my surroundings, to seek out new friendships with complete strangers only to count them as extended family thousands of miles away from home.
Henna for the Broken-Hearted is a quick read for either the India novice or Indophile thanks to the author’s comfortable narration. Her story leads readers from her home country of Australia to India, where we get to revel in entertaining recollections of the need to adapt to a life seemingly less complicated, yet ever more frustrating. In the end, the author finds a new path which many a traveler has dreamed of following. A path which led her, like symbolic henna designs, twisting, turning, sometimes moving toward dead ends, but always for a reason.
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