A wonderfully wry and witty debut. Crackles and sparks with life like an exploding box of Diwali fireworks.
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.
I love train trips and I love travelling around India. If you do too, then this book is a wonderful companion.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.