Around India In 80 Trains

11 October 2021

Around India In 80 Trains

Book Title: Around India in 80 Trains | Author: Monisha Rajesh | Book Genre: Non-Fiction Travelogue | Publisher: Lotus Collection

 

Inspired by Jules Verne’s amazing book, Around the World in 80 Days Monisha Rajesh, a British Indian undertook a remarkable 40,000 km adventurous journey around India in 80 trains to travel the length and breadth of the country. Jean Passepartout (the French phrase for ‘all purpose’) was her travel companion and photographer for the full four months expedition. In this book, Monisha narrates her wonderful travel experience in different types of trains (luxury trains, toy trains, Mumbai local trains, or express trains). Her journey began from Chennai with no plans and covered four ends of India - Dwarka in the West, Udhampur in the North, Ledo in the East, and Kanyakumari in the South, describing them as the most interesting stations in India that she discovered.

 

The book is not only about traveling in trains, but it also narrates stories about folks the duo met and various places visited by the duo. Like tales of Chaplsee house in Shimla, 45-minute flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah Border, Barog tunnel in Solan, Assam Accord signed in 1985, Kundalini meditation session in Osho ashram, etc were described in detail and worth reading. The best part for me was to know the story about how Lifeline Express began helping the rural community where basic medical facilities were not available. The author also touches upon few challenges she faced while traveling like the misbehavior of the ticket checker, struggle to get a hotel to stay in because of a white man, or prohibition of non-Hindus in a temple.

 

I loved the part when she overcomes her fear of traveling alone after parting from Passepartout in the middle of the journey. The end part of the book was a bit unrelated where it was more about spirituality as she undergoes the 10 days of Vipassana, a Burmese technique practiced by the Buddha, and comes out with a lighter heart and quiet mind.

 

I believe the experience could have been better at certain phases of the book where the author misses sharing the details about the journey or her experience. Sometimes author rapidly moves from one topic to another. Also, in and out of her travel companion Passepartout who is a devout atheist and their intense fights over religion in the story were a little odd.

 

Overall a good read if you love traveling on trains and discovering new places. I personally felt nostalgic at times as I remembered a lot of incidences of my travel experience.

 

Review By: Sumeet Ahuja

 

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Sumeet Ahuja works as a West Lead for India Region, Location Intelligence Practice at Searce. He is fond of self-help books like Ikigai and The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness and non-fiction books. He also reads fiction books. 



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