Around India in 80 Trains Paperback – 8 Nov 2012
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A wonderfully wry and witty debut. Crackles and sparks with life like an exploding box of Diwali fireworks. (William Dalrymple)
One can only envy Monisha Rajesh as she embarks on this epic journey through the vast tangle and bewildering extension of India's railways. The ticketing bureaucracy is mad, the travelling companions infinitely varied, the pleasure, discomforts and revelations such that she is guaranteed what even the wriest and most sceptical traveller yearns for: some deeper knowledge of oneself. (Tim Parks, travel writer and Booker Prize nominee)
I love train trips and I love travelling around India. If you do too, then this book is a wonderful companion. (Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting)
A great big lovely shambling train ride of a book, offering wonderful views, hilarious interludes, all sorts of dodgy characters and some very peculiar smells, all for the one ticket. (Giles Coren, bestselling author and Times columnist)
A promising debut from a writer to watch. I am stung with jealousy, not just for the epic journey she makes rediscovering her Indian heritage on ordinary trains, luxury trains, Mumbai's packed commuter trains, even a toy train but just for the talismanic power of such a ticket: the idea that you could have one in your hand tomorrow and just go! (Giles Foden Condé Nast Traveller)
This beautifully written book is a witty and insightful traveller's-eye view of the country from inside its rail network. It is also an account of a life-shaping journey. An assortment of mustachioed maharajas, wicked wedding-crashers, pinstriped Sikhs, indignant inspectors, spotty know-it-alls in Che Guevara T-shirts and crafty rickshaw drivers bursts from the pages... all of this is done with the lightest of touches and a dry wit. There are laugh-out-loud moments at which seasoned and fresh Indian travellers will cringe with recognition: male snoring on the trains; the drastic effects of the Imodium pill; 87 very good reasons why you should never eat Indian bacon. This excellent debut will stand the test of time. Just like India's railways. (Sunday Telegraph)
Remember Wes Anderson's film The Darjeeling Limited, about train journeys in India? Here's the book version. You'll be booking a flight by the final page. (Company)
Amusing and thoughtful by turns, Rajesh has sidestepped the navel-gazing pitfall common to many wannabe travel writers and piped up with an informative, yet fresh and engaging voice that we will surely be hearing more of. Rating: 9/10 (The Press Association)
A rollicking account of Modern India at express pace: from the good sprawling temples and scrapping tigers to the bad groping passengers, churning stomachs and officious ticket inspectors. Rajesh's quick-fire writing is unflinchingly frank, with details packed in as tightly as passengers on Mumbai's commuter trains. A lively read. (Lonely Planet Magazine)
'Crackles and sparks with life like exploding Diwali fireworks.' -William Dalrymple | Monisha Rajesh turns to a map of the Indian Railways and takes a page out of Jules Verne's classic tale, embarking on an adventure around India in 80 trains.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
having travelled on indian trains i found them lively surreal,sociable and daunting,but a sunset from a moving train over the vast smoky country is unforgettable whereas a lot of... Read morePublished 1 month ago by m. dosa
For anyone who loves India,doesn't or hasn't even been; who loves trains, doesn't or hasn't even been on one....this book brings alive an adventure which will appeal to all. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lisa
I can't recommend this book enough. After reading countless selfdepricating travel novels narrating a search for spirituality Monisha's book is a breath of fresh air. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
What a fantastic read. I picked this up when I was at a holiday home in Florida, someone had left it behind. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Anyone who drops £16,000 for a week in the presidential suite cabin and then slaps herself on the back for tipping the price of a newspaper is not someone whose travel experiences... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Crispin
I picked up this book in anticipation to read all about the beauty of India, its quirks, people, culture and colour - and it did not disappoint! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Had the potential to be a good travel book.The author is patronising and repeatedly trots out phrases like "private school etiquette " , not sure it's for the readers... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Reader
A must read if you're thinking of traveling to India or just have a love for the country, a heartwarming and honest experience from the author herself traveling around India on... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer