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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars A lively, witty contribution to India travel literature, 24 April 2013
This review is from: Around India in 80 Trains (Paperback)
I was deeply impressed with this book, which is one of the best rail travelogues I have ever read. As a British Indian, the writer clearly has a deep reverence for the country's traditions and religious culture in which she was raised, yet at the same time her book is packed with gems of sharp wit and graphic satire about Indian society's administrative and institutional failings. There are also a lot of astute social observations about how Indians feel about themselves and the familiar debates about how hi-tech 21st century India co-exists with the grinding poverty endured by those millions who ride the trains every day too, with or without a ticket. And there is a real sense of humanity and kindness about the way she handles her friends and fellow passengers on the trip.

The descriptive prose is quite fast paced with plenty of humorous dialogue for light relief. For example, when she catches Delhi belly on one of her journeys and spends a rather difficult morning on a train toilet, she writes about it in a way that gave me a seizure "Flicking round the lever, I tiptoed in the wet, dimly lit toilet. It was 3.40 am. For the umpteenth time that day, I squatted on my haunches and an overwhelming sense of resignation swept over me at the same time as a muscular spasm struck the lower half of my body. This must be what childbirth felt like. The train chose that point to approach a bend in the tracks as I approached a new milestone in my life. Clutching the wonky tap ahead of me with both hands, I closed my eyes against my knees and wondered what the f*** I was doing in this country. It was 4.00 am and I was s****ing in zig zags". Brilliant!
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