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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One woman's Odyssey
I am planning to take a 4 to 6 week trip around India by train in the next year 2013 so I bought this as a guide (one of many). Its not a guide as such more One woman's Odyssey in text, derived from Jules Verne's book around the world in 80 days. The story comes across as true and not glossed up, about the trials and tribulations of a British born Indian woman who as a...
Published 20 months ago by B Nic Tesla

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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many trains
Inspired by Jules Verne, Manisha Rajesh attempted to rediscover her roots by riding the length and breadth of India on 80 different trains. The story of her 40,000 km journey should have made for an absorbing read but unfortunately I found Around India in 80 trains to be a rather disappointing book that ran out of steam long before Rajesh reached her journeys end...
Published 21 months ago by Bantam Dave


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One woman's Odyssey, 14 Dec 2012
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I am planning to take a 4 to 6 week trip around India by train in the next year 2013 so I bought this as a guide (one of many). Its not a guide as such more One woman's Odyssey in text, derived from Jules Verne's book around the world in 80 days. The story comes across as true and not glossed up, about the trials and tribulations of a British born Indian woman who as a child lived in Madras for 2 years, and Norwegian man friend who armed with rail-passes and 3 month's spare travels 30,000 km around India by train. 250 pages took me 2 weeks to read and was very interesting and enjoyable to me a man(46).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful read - and great insight into dealing with Indians, 24 Dec 2012
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Born in the early 60s to parents extremely fond of travel, my best memories of childhood and youth are of long trips the length and breadth of India with family or friends. Still remember vividly the interaction with fellow passengers - in trains as well as at railway waiting rooms. There is something about the railways that encourages socialising: which just does not happen on long intercontinental flights.....
Monisha's travelogue brought those travel experiences to life. Her book is not so much about describing destinations. Its more about describing the human interactions on all those long trips - which she has done brilliantly in a very witty manner.
Readers looking for a "cerebral" read may be disappointed, but those - like me - who like to see the funny side of meeting new people, this book is a delight.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indian comfort blanket, 29 Jan 2013
A month ago I set out for the trip of a lifetime armed with a ridiculously heavy backpack holding; far too many clothes, a plethora of chargers (for various different electrical goods most of which I'll never use), more hand-sanitizing gel you could shake a nasty bacteria at - but with hindsight, most importantly, my copy of Around India in 80 Trains. I loved every minute of this beautifully written and incredibly witty reportage of India, its people and the lifeblood of the country; its railway system. Monisha Rajesh's journey makes mine look so tame in comparison but I learnt so much about 'Mother India' in 80 trains that it gave me the knowledge and the confidence to make my voyage everything I wanted it to be and so much more.
If you're thinking of travelling this wonderful country then you could do a lot worse than adding this diamond to your lonely planet or your rough guide. If you're not, read it anyway.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and amusing travelogue, 8 Jan 2013
I read this book while travelling on Indian Railways myself. Armed with a rail pass the author and her companion undertake a trip of a lifetime on one of the biggest rail networks of the world. Inter spread with her experiences of travelling on the trains themselves, is a rich storyline of her Indian roots, her family and her experiences with religion and spirituality. The process of how she chooses, books tickets and embarks upon each journey may be of practical interest to those planning a train trip or two themselves.

As someone who has traveled across Indian Railways over several years, I can relate to most of the trials and tribulations, joy and exasperation, pleasant and unpleasant surprises that the author lays down in the book.

While the book was very enjoyable and a worthy debut, I do have a few minor reservations namely
1. The desire to use a variety of trains is well founded but ends up with a cliched selection. Some of her trains are tourist traps for rich foreigners serving a 'Disney' India of snake charmers, palaces etc. As expected, she hardly meets another Indian on these trains, apart from the staff. At the other end of the scale, she uses some very low quality trains to cover journeys which most sensible Indians prefer to cover by road.
2. The author's route across India seems unnecessarily haphazard. As a fastidious travel planner I found her itinerary a bit arbitrary.
3. The author's companion is there to keep a photographic record of the whole trip, yet the book does not have a single photograph.
4. A map of her journeys would have been a nice addition - not all readers will have a high degree of familiarity with Indian geography.

All in all, I would readily recommend this book, irrespective of whether you plan to travel around India.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She did it so I won't have to, 9 Dec 2012
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This is a brilliant, hilarious, razor sharp, life changing journey... A really fresh take on "travel writing". Massively entertaining and a real education. Every year I say "I must go to India" this year. Every year I chicken out. I bought this book because I love train journeys, and found the idea of touring a country using its rail network really romantic. I read this book at two sittings (on the Eurostar, in fact) and absolutely loved it. There's a bigger story here than just "travel" or the concept of ticking off trains... the author brings her whole family history and personal experience to the table and does it in such a bright and evocative way. I bought a Bill Bryson book once and lasted two chapters - I just felt like he makes it all up and has little to say. Rajesh really lives it - good, bad, terrifying or magical... and has plenty to say. In many ways, the book has made my mind up: I'll now never go to India because I can't hack what Rajesh went through. It sounds ghastly! In other ways, it makes me want to go tomorrow - there are so many wonderful moments. And what Rajesh does so well, is keep the reader glued with her prose and imagery. It's cliché free and often hysterically funny.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny & informative, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: Around India in 80 Trains (Kindle Edition)
This is remarkable for a first book. It's an interesting subject well told. But it's the humour that lifts it - the self-deprecating asides, the oblique jokes - excellent! I would recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book - couldn't put it down, 1 Mar 2013
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An highly evocative book - i felt completely transported to the intensity and madness of the Indian railways and people. Monisha Rajesh has a lovely visual style of writing that feels poetic and witty while not being cumbersome or dense. The book has a lovely rhythm and you become really attached to the characters in the book. India and her religiosity is a fascinating ongoing tussle for the author - this helps give an edge and tension to the book which means you want to keep reading. A real pleasure to read. The book and words, lines and images from it stay with you long after you finish reading. I highly recommend reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read - a must read book!, 25 Jan 2013
One of the best reads ever - whether you are Indian or not! Monisha's style of writing is fresh, witty and entertaining - weaving effortlessly in and out of situations funny and serious, illustrating how entwined train travel is with life. This is more than just a journey around India, this is a journey through one's life told in the most engaging of ways. In the process, Monisha has made train travel exciting again. All-in-all 80 Trains is a book that is very difficult to put down from the moment you start reading it. If you have ever travelled on Indian trains, this book will give you a fitting emotional flashback! If you haven't travelled through the Indian railway system before, read 80 Trains to see how one (major!) part of the world lives and for the courage to discover it for yourself! Thoroughly recommended and I hope she's working on her next!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing read, and laugh out loud funny, 1 Mar 2013
I've never been to India, but after reading this book I'm sure I will soon. The people Rajesh meets on her travels, both Indians and fellow tourists, pop out of the pages and her observations never fail to amuse. As a British Indian she has a distinctive perspective on India, and often confuses the people she meets (whether Hindu priests who think she isn't Hindu enough, or European hippies who are surprised she speaks English). By travelling the whole country, and covering the gamut of ticket classes, she also shows us a rich diversity of wealth, world experience and scenery that goes beyond the usual cliched view of each country as homogenous. In essence Rajesh shows us a country, and a train system, in transition from its colonial past, and impoverished recent history, to its future as a cultural and economic superpower.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars India as seen by a British Hindu, 15 Jan 2013
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We hear so much about the Muslims that we forget the large number of Hindus in this country and the much greater number living and working in India. She has a delightful sense of humour which she undoubtedly needed on many of her train journeys. She is not afraid to uncover the corruption which exists at all levels of society nor the terrible overcrowding on some of the trains if one has a 2nd class ticket which certainly put me off revisiting India! It is a thorough good read for anyone interested in the country and its people but don't expect a guide book!
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Around India in 80 Trains
Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
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