A Bag & A Book – Destination Vietnam


Vietnam by Black Swan Journeys

Vietnam by Black Swan Journeys

A Bag & A Book (By Pagdandi & Black Swan Journeys) brings to you destination Vietnam. Customized travel experience with perfect book recommendations to go with it.

Vietnam is much more than the cataclysmic American war that everybody talks about; it is in fact a bewitching country that enthralls you with its myriad cultural influences, bustling energetic cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, natural exotic landscapes, island – studded azure seas and undoubtedly – Vietnamese cuisine. Despite fighting several civil wars, this country wears its history proudly. The ruins of Hindu temples -My Son, Po Nagar are shining testimonies to its heritage. But the biggest attraction remains to be the surreal looking Limestone Islets – Ha Long Bay. A visit to Vietnam is certainly a rewarding experience, where Vietnamese people envelope you with their warmth and the mysterious grottoes beckon you with a promise of tales untold.

Book Recommendations by Pagdandi:

  1. Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew Phamcatfish&mandala
    Part travelogue, part memoir. A vietnam born american travels through the heart of vietnam on a bicycle as he reconciles his past.
  2. Fragrant Palm Leaves by Thich Nhat Hanhfragrantpalmleaves
    A journal maintained by one of the most loved Buddhist teachers before he left Vietnam. Fragrant Palm traces his thoughts and his multiple efforts for peace that Vietnam deserved.
  3. The Quiet American by Graham GreeneQuietAmerican
    An Anti-War novel by the classic author. The Quiet American chases a British Journalist and an American CIA agent as they collide in their choices of love and sides of war.
  4. Destination Saigon: Adventures in Vietnam by Walter Masondestinationsaigon
    A true blue travelogue of 21st century Vietnam. Walter Mason is in his element as he spots the quirks of Vietnamese people, their street food and jungle mosquitos.


Book with us and get 2 books out of the recommendations free. 

Experiences in Vietnam the Black Swan way!  – 

  1. Spend a night on-board as you cruise through Halong Bay in a luxury junk boat and enjoy Tai Chi lessons.
  2. Cooking demo as you cruise along the Halong Bay.
  3. Explore the mystical Me Cung Caves.
  4. A 25 minute flight in a seaplane around Ha Long Bay. You’ll get to experience a birds-eye view of the spectacular Ha Long Bay from 300-500 meters above sea level.
  5. Tour the underground war tunnels at Cu Chi.
  6. Walk the markets of Hoi An: a unique amalgamation of Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese with an expert guide.
  7. Visit the historic Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.
  8. A half-day bicycle tour to Kim Bong Carpentry Village , which allows visitors to see the artisans working with their skillful hands on the crafts.

and more…

To customize your travel and get free books Call Vishal on 9 8 9 0 9 9 2 4 7 0 or email us on

To know more about ‘A Bag & A Book’ visit

Newsletter 30.01.15

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Pagdandi.

This time our newsletter contains information regarding new books for sale, Pune Urban Village Unconference – a wonderful community event and the much awaited natural Holi colours.

  • Ananconda in my Backyard and other stories by Bina Thomas
  • Available for Sale at Pagdandi
“Bina Thomas says Anaconda In My Backyard and Other Stories, her first book for children, is to sensitise children to the world around them.” – The Hindu.

The 17 stories in the book touch upon social, civic, and environmental issues, through everyday normal instances in our lives. In the stories, its the children who observe, question and react to these common issues.



  • Bombay Mumbai life is life i am because of you by Amin Sheikh
  • Available for Sale at Pagdandi. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards Amin’s dream of making a library cafe. Also available in Marathi.
Amin was a boy like many others.
Tired of his life at home, he and his sister, Sabira, ran away.
They spent three years in Bombay’s stations.
Then, they were picked up by Sr. Seraphine and Fr. Placido Fonseca, who took them to Snehasadan, a home for homeless children.
This is Amin’s story, told in his own words. With the proceeds from this book, he hopes to open a library cafe for the kids of Snehasadan named Bombay to Barcelona.


  • Pune Urban Village Unconference (PUVU) at Thoughtworks
  • Saturday 31st Jan and Sunday 1st Feb, 10Am – 5PM
A space where people can meet as a local community. Bring your work, art, craft, ideas, games, music, organic produce, books, gifts, khana dabbas, recipes, healthy food, organization information, recycled art/craft/produce, songs, dances,conversations…anything that means a lot to you, and share it to your heart’s content.
There will be no registration fee! Feel free to share your gifts of time, talent, service, work, money, heart ,hand, mind, creativity.
  • RangDulaar Natural Holi Colours by eCoexist
  • Now accepting advance orders at Pagdandi
The Rang Dulaar natural Holi colours started as part of the Safe Festivals campaign under the Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group in 2004. This work began along with the women farmers of Vanastree and was then taken further by eCoexist from 2006 onwards.
The Rang Dulaar colours are made on the base of turmeric which is considered very good for the skin. Mixed with other natural ingredients such as indigo, these colours use starches such as rice and potato for fillers.
Flowers are not used in the colours as eCoexist believes that this could lead to over exploitation in the sourcing of these flowers from forested areas. Their ingredients are completely renewable and help provide a supplemental income to farmers.

Freedom Trail Pune by Janwani

Janwani has released a new book called “Freedom Trail Pune” . Copies of the book are available at Pagdandi. For more about the book read:

Freedom Trail Pune

Freedom Trail Pune

Banyan Tree Books

Banyan Tree Books are now available at Pagdandi

BANYAN TREE publishes and distributes books that bind together the relationship of living and non living. Their books challenge the pre-defined notions of institutionalized world, understanding the power of our traditional & cultural roots like the roots of BANYAN TREE.



Banyan Tree Books

Banyan Tree Books

No Looking back by Shivani Gupta

No Looking Back by Shivani Gupta is an inspiring and moving memoir that showcases the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming odds. Pagdandi along with Ekansh Trust ( organized a book reading event on Saturday 22/3/14. It was an honest and heart touching interaction with our audience. Was truly a privilege for us to host Shivani.

Note: Author Signed copies available for sale at Pagdandi Books Chai Cafe

Book Reading by Shivani Gupta

Pooja Sharma with Shivani Gupta

Gouri Dange with Shivani Gupta

Anita Iyer of Ekansh Trust with Shivani Gupta

Book Reading by Shivani Gupta

Book Reading by Shivani Gupta

10 Must Read Women Oriented Books

Some people question the need of having only one day as a celebration of women hood while it is an year round issue. To add perspective, one day allows us to focus our energies and attention to feminism  in a way that cannot be achieved every day. It gives us a platform to reach out with renewed vigor and share knowledge, to educate as many people as possible. More importantly one day gives us an audience, ready ears who today will take notice of what needs to be said. Towards this endeavour, Pagdandi Book Cafe celebrates the better half with ’10 Must Read Women Oriented Books’ every male and female must read. Biased towards Indian stories we hope they will inspire, encourage, give strength and educate. On with the list in no particular order:

10. My Story – Kamala Das


The book, with 50 chapters, follows Aami’s (Kamala) life from age four through British colonial and missionary schools in Calcutta where she had to face racial discrimination; through the brutal and indulgent relationship with her husband; through her sexual awakening; her literary career; extramarital affairs; the birth of her children; and, finally, a slow but steady coming to terms with her spouse, writing, and sexuality. Das recounts the trials of her marriage and her painful self-awakening as a woman and writer.  The book was originally published in Malayalam, titled Ente Katha. The book evoked violent reactions of admiration and criticism among the readers and critics. It remains to date the best-selling woman’s autobiography in India.





9. The splendour of silence – Indu Sundaresan

splendor_silenceWhen Sam Hawthorne, a twenty-five-year-old U.S. Army captain, arrives at the princely state of Rudrakot in May of 1942, it is on a personal quest to find his missing brother. But Sam’s mission is soon threatened by the unlikeliest of sources — he falls hopelessly in love with Mila, daughter of the local political agent. And Mila, unexpectedly attracted to Sam, finds herself torn between loyalty to her family and the man she loves.

A sweeping and poignant story of forbidden love, The Splendour of Silence opens twenty-one years later with Olivia, Sam’s daughter, receiving a trunk of treasures from India, along with an anonymous letter that finally fills the silences of her childhood. She finally learns the heartrending story of her parents’ passionate and enduring love affair — throwing them in the path of racial prejudice, nationalist intrigue, and the explosive circumstances of a country on the brink of independence from British rule.





8. Pinjar – Amrita Pritam


Pinjar is a 1950 Punjabi novel written by noted poet and novelist Amrita Pritam. It is the story of a Hindu girl, Puro, abducted by a Muslim guy, Rashid whose parents refuse to recover the defiled girl when she manages a run to her parents from Rashid’s home. Pinjar is believed to be the best literature written with backdrop of Partition of India. Amrita Pritam was a Indian writer and poet, who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi. She is considered the first prominent woman Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, and the leading 20th-century poet of the Punjabi language, who is equally loved on both the sides of the India-Pakistan border.



7. The Help – Kathryn Stockett


The help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope,The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.






6. Yajnaseni  – The story of Draupadi – Pratibha Ray

yajnaseni-the-story-of-draupadi-400x400The story of Draupadi, one of the most fascinating characters in the Mahabharata. Strange as it may appear, Draupadi, the most accomplished heroine of the Mahabharata, happens to be the most suffering, sacrificing, and yet the most misunderstood character from the epic. Though counted among the five supremely virtuous women, honoured as pancha sati in mythology, the name Draupadi still bears stigma and is often contemptuously uttered by people in society as the woman who brought about the greatest war of all times.

Pratibha Ray makes a determined effort for a portrayal of the epic character and brings to the surface the broader and deeper aspects of Draupadis mind that lay submerged in the majestic sweep of the grand Mahabharata. The novel won her the Bharatiya Jnanpiths prestigious ninth Moortidevi Award in 1993.

5. That long silence – Shashi Deshpande

 3923Jaya’s life comes apart at the seams when her husband is asked to leave his job while allegations of business malpractice against him are investigated. Her familiar existence disrupted, her husband’s reputation in question and their future as a family in jeopardy, Jaya, a failed writer, is haunted by memories of the past. Differences with her husband, frustrations in their seventeen-year-old marriage, disappointment in her two teenage children, the claustrophia of her childhood—all begin to surface. In her small suburban Bombay flat, Jaya grapples with these and other truths about herself—among them her failure at writing and her fear of anger. Shashi Deshpande gives us an exceptionally accomplished portrayal of a woman trying to erase a ‘long silence’ begun in childhood and rooted in herself and in the constraints of her life.





4. Red Tent – Anita Diamant

The Red Tent is a novel by Anita Diamant, published in 1997 by Wyatt Books for St. Martin’s Press. It is a first-person narrative that tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister of Joseph. She is a minor character in the Bible, but the author has broadened her story. The book’s title refers to the tent in which women of Jacob’s tribe must, according to the ancient law, take refuge while menstruating or giving birth, and in which they find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts.





3. I know why the caged bird sings – Mary Angelou

9780812980028_custom-287c0d1ef61cc0f7a336824aa808ec9094c96ffb-s6-c30I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 17. In the course of Caged Bird, Maya transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.




2. Choker Bali – Rabindranath Tagore


Chokher Bali, literally Sand of the Eye, equivalent to eyesore, is a Bengali novel written by Rabindranath Tagore in the early twentieth century. Binodini is a convent educated young widow left to her own devices when her husband dies soon after they are married. As was the custom in those times in British India, she returns to her village and lives there for a couple of months until she accepts the invitation of Rajlakshmi to live with her and her son Mahendra (who had rejected a former marriage proposal with Binodini) in Calcutta. He is newly married to Ashalata (a naïve, gentle girl), but soon begins to feel a strong attraction for Binodini. The story details the relationships of these three and Mahendra’s best friend Bihari as they deal with issues like distrust, adultery, lies and problems between them. Tagore elaborately records early 20th-century Bengali society through his central character, the rebellious widow who wants to live a life of her own. In writing this novel he exposes the custom of perpetual mourning on the part of widows, who were not allowed to remarry and were condemned to a life of seclusion and loneliness. It is a melancholic, stirring tale of the deceit and sorrow that arise from dissatisfaction and sorrow.


1. Lihaf (The Quilt) – Ismat Chugtai (Short Story)


The quilt deals with a lesbian encounter within an all-woman setting (Zenana) in a traditional Muslim household. Narrating the story of Begum Jan,  Ismat Chughtai raises this question of sexual discrimination with frankness in the social consciousness. Ismat was leveled with charges of obscenity for this story and she was summoned by the Lahore court in 1944. Chughtai chose to contest this case instead of apologizing and won it.





That’s it folks. Any books you feel should be in the list? Please mention them in comments.

Credit: Wikipedia, Goodreads, Museindia and Amazon.


Book Introduction by Sharan Garcha of Gypsy

Gypsy - A collection of marathi short stories by Sumit Patil

Gypsy – A collection of marathi short stories by Sumit Patil    


This book is a collection of twelve stories written by Sumit Patil.

Life is full of small stories that get compiled into an entire novel or a life story. We tend to question ourselves in various points of our lives, so does the author, Sumit. In order to try answering these questions, the author has given us glimpses through the short stories in the book. Each short story tends to make the reader question him or herself and try to make one ponder over the thoughts that the author must have gone through his life.

The book is written in marthi, in simple and easy language. So do not hesitate to pick up the book and read it. For those who know the language will definitely be gald that the book is in their hands.

This review has been shared by Sharan Garcha. If you would like to have your book reviews posted on our blog, please mail them to

Author Speak:

Alfred Hitchcock once said,

Drama is life, with the dull bits cut out.

Your whole life is a story. Every face is a story. Every particle of sand here must have had a history. It’s difficult to put it all in words, which is why it’s important that you keep windows of your mind open. The world outside windows remains same.. All you have to do is keep the window moving..

The making of Gypsy was an intense experience, & raised a lot of questions in my mind. Questions that eventually culminated into my storylines. My characters joined my quest.. & over the time I realized how little I knew earlier. I wondered whether these questions ever cross anyone else’s mind..

I’m not expecting any of my stories to fetch me answers; but these questions need to be discussed. The windows of our minds shut for ages need to be opened. That’s all I’m looking forward to.

I’m happy to present you my first short stories collection ‘Gypsy’ to you. I hope the stories will make you think. Again. 

Thanks to everyone who has helped Gypsy happen, knowingly or unknowingly, through feedback, influence and encouragement..
..& thanks to the words that helped the gypsy in me talk. 

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