Book Launch – The Transmigrant

You might not know this, but I’m not just a travel blogger. When work and responsibilities keep me stranded at home, I travel through the world by putting words on paper. (Well, a screen, but you get what I mean.)

The-Transmigrant-ebook cover

Many of the places I’ve been to and the people I’ve met have influenced my writing. For example, the Naga Sadhus in India, the fishermen in Puri, and the Buddhist monks in Bodhgaya. As you can tell, India has made a huge impact on me, so no wonder that when I finally published a novel, it was about Jesus in India. Long story short, it’s based on a true story uncovered by Russian adventurer Nicholas Notovitch in 1880, who found scrolls  in Ladakh about Jesus studying Hinduism and Buddhism in India, Pakistan, and Nepal during those so-called “lost years.”

More a spiritual tale than a religious story, I hope you will check it out. It’s been compared to Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha.

Praise for the book includes:

“An inspired narrative and vibrant living tapestry that humanizes Jesus in a sensitive and delicate way”

“A captivating and powerfully related account of Jesus’ early years.”

“[This] vivid narrative deploys the methods of fiction to get at a truth about Jesus that history too often ignores.”

“The Transmigrant will transport you to that ancient cosmos of biblical times with such searing vividness, you will swear the story is unfolding before your very eyes, you will swear that you are witnessing a cinematic event.”

Buy it on Amazon

 

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Lagos – Center of the Jesus Fan Club

The greatest cause for traffic jams in Lagos, is the Sunday flood of people to the Christian Church of God. The church, with over 4000 parishes, is the biggest church in Nigeria. And its Redemption Camp on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is the largest parish of them all. More resembling a small town than a church, it boasts a university, a cinema, multiple stores, and an auditorium seating 1.2 million worshippers.

But the Redeemed Christian Church of God is just a single droplet in the sea of Christian fanaticism. Everyone seems to use God as their personal insurance policy, holifying their children by giving them virtuous names like Heaven, Gospel and Hosanna. They name their restaurant “God Is With Us” or their shoe shop “Jesus Power”. Even the minibuses and taxis are adorned with phrases of adoration: “God’s Time Is The Best”, “The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength” or “Go and Sin No More”, as if this would guarantee accident-free rides, no matter how badly they drive.

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Most of coastal West Africa follows this trend of “Jesus Insurance”, but in Lagos it really comes to a climax. People are literally drunk on Jesus worship. No matter where you look, you see slogans like “Fear God”, “God So Good” or “His Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me”.
On every block, there’s at least two churches. No bars, no restaurants, no cafés; only churches.

One man, thinking he was like Daniel in the bible, went into a lion cage believing that the lions wouldn’t eat him because he was a man of God, was instantly devoured by the beasts. What a surprise!

But, despite their intense devotion to God, somehow their faith doesn’t seem to deter any of the crooks from stealing, the police from extracting bribes, or the men to cheat on their wives. I guess they really think it’s an insurance policy.

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Letters to Santa Rosa

“Dear Santa Rosa, please bring me a new bike…

In all fairness, the letters bought for 1 sol (approx. $0.30), and thrown down the well in Santa Rosa’s garden most likely aren’t requests for a new bike, a Dior handbag or a brand new BMW. Looking at the anguished faces of the thousands of people lining up to pay their respects to Lima’s own saint, they probably aren’t asking for frivolous things. They’re praying for a miraculous cure for their dying husband, relief from agonizing pain, or perhaps that their straying wife and mother of their six children will come back home again. Kissing and caressing the hands of Santa Rosa’s statue, they do sincerely believe that she will fulfill their wishes. Because in the end, she is their last hope.

On the 30th of August every year, the Limeños celebrate the first South American Saint. From a very young age, Rosa spent her time praying and fasting, and helping the sick and poor in her community. When her parents wanted her to get married, she cut of all her hair, and disfigured her face with lye and pepper so that no man would want her. She chained a chastity belt around her waist and threw the key into the well, the same one where people now throw their letters with their wish-lists. Defeated, her father gave her a private room in his house where she could live in total seclusion. There, she slept on a stone pillow, nailing her hair to the floor so that she wouldn’t be able to sleep more than a couple of hours per day.

Still not feeling she was doing enough, Rosa built a cave in her family’s garden where she spent her nights praying and flogging herself. Finally, her dedication and martyrdom payed off. One night in sleepless deliriousness she saw a vision of baby Jesus. He offered her to drink his blood (like a vampire) and then asked her to marry him. Shortly after, her wishes came true when she died at the age of 31.

The Catholic Church of coursed loved her story, and fifty years after her death acknowledged her as a saint.

And because of this, tens of thousands Limeños make their way to her garden every year to pay their respects, throw coins into her praying cave (for money), buy cheap religious tchotchkes from the nuns and write letters on rose-covered stationary to the saint that has become famous for fulfilling your every wish. Just like Santa Claus.

I wonder if Santa Rosa would be devastated, if she knew…