Book review: The Shooting Star by Shivya Nath

I first came to know about Shivya Nath through a very good friend of mine at work and the rest, I would say, is history. In this age of Instagram-driven source for visual pleasure, I can easily say Shivya is one of India’s well-known travel writers. For her 74,000 Instagram followers (and counting!), she is the go-to person for budding explorers to have a look at jaw-dropping photos of her travels across the globe.

Her book The Shooting Star: A Girl, Her Backpack and the World talks about her journey from shedding her corporate job in Singapore and hitting the road to trek the world. Her skill to explain places the way she sees is brilliant. With a few words, she managed to keep me engaged, gradually lifting me off my room and taking me on a tour of a quiet, sultry night at the Rann of Kutch or cooking meals with locals of Guatemala or making new friends at a Buddhist nunnery in Ladakh.

The book is written in a non-chronological order, yet there is a sense of connect from the beginning. In the first chapters, Shivya talks about coming to terms with her undying urge to navigate the globe and also fighting societal norms of having a 9-5 job. Soon, she tells us how she restrained herself from getting caught in such a rat race.

Yet, Shivya isn’t shy about showing us her vulnerable side. Like the time when she gets mugged by a rude taxi driver in Costa Rica or when she is reminded about her choice for veganism after a horrifying experience in a ‘chicken bus’ in Nicaragua. Such sections in nearly every chapter let us know about the reason why she chose to live a life without a home and a destination without an end.

The Shooting Star is for anyone who wishes to know what it feels like to quit their job and hit the road and to someone who wishes to understand the perils and choices while on the move. This is perhaps for the nomad in all of us which Shivya appeals to in the very last pages of her book. ‘I know not what the future holds, nor how much my oath will evolve, but I have the feeling that I will continue to challenge society’s current version of a ‘normal life…’ She concludes: ‘After all, I am a descendant of someone who once moved with all her possessions, without a permanent roof above her head. I am a nomad.’

Mohammed Rayaan