Janapar: Love, on a Bike Paperback – 29 Jan 2013
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Sometimes the hardest part of a journey is knowing when it's over.
When twenty-three-year-old Tom Allen and his friends set off from their English village to cycle around the world, they were expecting physical hardship, extreme conditions and a serious case of culture shock. But the hours spent poring over maps could never have prepared them for the experience of life on the road: the petty squabbles, the extreme hospitality, the unexpected joys and dangers.
And then Tom meets Tenny, a feisty Iranian-Armenian girl with dreams of her own, and hits a crossroad. Should he give up his grand plan for the girl he loves, or cycle off and risk missing out on the greatest adventure of them all?
Top customer reviews
I've followed Tom Allen's blog for the past year or two as he tried to turn 3 or 4 years of video footage and notes taken into a full length film and book. Despite the challenges of doing this independantly, he has managed to produce something wonderful. I love the film and still find it inspiring and funny after having seen it 3 or 4 times. But the book gives so much more. Even in the film, which is by definition limited to the footage that was taken, Tom manages to put across a very honest and personal account of his motivations. Of the joys and challenges of such a trip. Of loneliness and companionship. Of the humbling friendship of complete strangers. Of the difficulties in finding out that perhaps the plan you've been obsessing over isn't the only plan.
But in the book he is able to communicate this to a much greater degree. I've read books about cycle trips that are very much of the 'On day 97 we cycled from A to B covering 80 miles. I felt tired.' ilk. Janapar is not that book. It's about an adventure. It's about personal motivation and challenge. It's about seeking something more meaningful than the daily 9-5 that most people get sucked into. And it's about finding things you didn't expect in the places you least expected them.
Tom writes eloquently, honestly and with great self-awareness (after the event at least!). Janapar is a joy to read and will make you want to quit your job, pack a bag and cycle off on a voyage of discovery. That's what I'm going to do. Thanks Tom (I think!).
His trip back through Europe with his wife is just mention, but really non existing apart of English bit. Lack of chronological order can be swallowed, but it didn't go down well at the end. Chaotic jumps in time and space are out of context, there is no need for this. It's not soap opera (is it not?), it's not criminal neither.
Exaggerated love and miss for Tenny, well, I was 23 once and I was in love at the time, but come on, this is XXI century, XIX is well gone now.
I don't know how much influence his wife put into the book, but there is not that much about Armenia and Iran, her motherlands, did they have opposite views in these cases? My wife is extremely patriotic and any critique to her country is to be vanished. No jokes allowed. So there is a little bit understanding for that, but explanation would help.
Positive side is a language, which is pretty straight, but still deep enough. I liked quite detailed descriptions of part of Turkey, Ethiopia and Djibouti. There is lack of names of the place, which is pretty annoying, you cannot really follow the book on the map. Specially Armenian bit, which is close to me, suffers from lack of geographical facts.
I must admit, that I have read Humpreys and Lillwall, so I am a bit bored with postcolonial English twenty something so called travelers, who expect to be understood only because they speak English, no matter how mumbling and fast their talk is. On the other hand I am impressed that he has learned Armenian (I assume alphabet as well, that is really great) and Arabic (at least alphabet).
Final word is, that book repeats a movie in few occasions. For me this is unacceptable, there is two things and he should be able not to use the same stuff here and there.
I enjoyed reading it, I skipped paragraphs I have heard in the movie and I hope Mr Allen will get better before he commits next book. This one is fairly good, but it should be better, I am sure the story Tom has is a lot richer than what we have.
An engaging and honest read for all - adventure, love and romance rolled into one.
I found myself nodding along with so many of the situations the author describes so eloquently and it made me pine for the open road once again.
Travel books can have a tendency to fall into the, "and then we went here, and then we went here..." trap but the multiple story-arcs going on during this trip ensures that you're always engaged and wondering what will come next.
The author also came across as refreshingly honest - from the initial highs and 'arrogance of ignorance' from the preparation and early days to the inevitable team squabbles and other low points.
If you're vaguely interested in travel or adventure then check out this very English kind of story but be warned: it'll probably make you want to quit your job and hit the road on two wheels!
Great job Tom!
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