Lotus In The Stone Review by Ananya Ganesh


This is a review of Lotus In The Stone by teenager Ananya Ganesh. 

Lotus In The Stone was recommended to me by my mother, who read it on a flight, loved it, and decided she would discreetly leave it in my bedroom – and then not-so-discreetly ask me if I was finished reading it every five seconds.

I did finish reading it, albeit later than she probably expected me to, and I found some aspects of the book so interesting that they were worth commenting upon.

Lotus In The StoneTo begin with, I must say I loved the writing and the tone of the book itself. It read like a series of blog posts, relatively short, refreshing, and to-the-point, all of which are concepts that I find myself struggling with frequently. Each chapter deals with a different topic, but somehow traverses the whole of India, while making the reader feel like they’re right there in the metaphorical passenger’s seat.

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One of the passages of the book which really resonated with me spoke about the impact of a physical location upon an individual. Around 75 pages in, Ms. Goyal talks about ‘places where you feel elevated and energized…’. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I agree completely. Not just in relation to temples, but in my travels across India, and around the world, there are certain locations that can have different impacts on you, and not just because humans have made them that way. A serene lake in the foothills of the mountains may invoke a feeling of reinforced calmness, while a visit to an urban center may fill you with rambunctious energy, to run around buying clothes and electronics and iced lattes.

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One of my favorite parts of the book was Ms. Goyal’s attention to detail. My mother had warned me of this before I started the book, but even as I read it, I found myself immersed in the events as they were recounted. As I read, I understood the nuances of the experiences that were recounted, even as I thought back, and was able to form connections with some of my own experiences, limited as they may be. In times where travel is severely limited, Ms. Goyal does a wonderful job of making the reader feel like they are right there on the journey.

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However, there were parts of the book which I found it hard to agree with, too. Specifically, there is one paragraph, around the 50-page mark, where Ms. Goyal talks about graffiti, specifically the desecration of monuments. She cites the example of a Jogimara Cave inscription in Chattisgarh, drawing reasonable connections between the all-too-human desire to leave an imprint of ourselves wherever we go. However, I would disagree completely.

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No matter what the historical precedent for graffiti is, I find it unforgivable to deface monuments of historical, or even communal importance. People seem to forget that the monument, too, is a remnant of an individual long gone, a testament to their legacy far more precious because of its endurance. Or maybe they don’t forget it, and deface the monument in any case. Either way, I cannot agree with any justification for it.

Overall though, I loved the book. I’ve always known that I can rely on my mother for good book recommendations, and she didn’t disappoint. Lotus In The Stone brings together stories chronicling a topic that is becoming more prevalent each day and transforms them into a book that perfectly captures the essence of travel within, and even outside the country. Excerpts from real-life incidents and thoughtfully penned, journal-like entries ensure that the book leaves a lasting impression upon the reader.

I would recommend it to anyone who wished to know more about travel in India – because that’s what it is about. Not just temples, or languages, or cities. It is about travel as a cohesive whole; made up of these facets, sure, but greater than the sum of its parts.

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