I’m always on the lookout for new books about travel in India. Recently I came across one titled Around India in 80 Trains, and since I was going to be traveling on Indian Railways myself (my ill-fated Mumbai-Rajasthan-Mumbai journey during which my luggage got stolen), I decided to buy a copy to take with me.
It turned out to be an excellent decision as the book is really entertaining. The author, British journalist Monisha Rajesh, has a great sense of humor which is reflected in the way the book is written. In it, she recounts her journey traveling on 80 different trains in India over four months — an idea that she got from Jules Verne’s classic tale, Around the World in 80 Days.
Now, something to keep in mind is that the book isn’t so much about the trains themselves (although there are a few train reviews on the author’s website), but rather the experiences she had along the way. While it does contain some enlightening information about the meaning of train numbers and also the five digit numbers on the outside of each carriage, it’s essentially a train based travelogue. In it, you’ll find out the trains she took and where she went, and read about her funny interactions with the people she met along the way. Numerous Indian quirks are also discussed, making it a helpful book for understanding India and Indians.
For Indians who may be interested in reading this book, rest assured that it’s not just another westerner’s distorted perspective on India, but rather a balanced account of her travels. It’s easy to relate to, and will leave you smiling and longing to jump aboard Indian Railways!