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Chai, chai: Travels in Places Where You Stop but Never Get Off Paperback – May 22, 2012
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Just like the author, I too have often wondered, waiting at Itarsi, looking out of my second class coach window at the emptiness that stared at me beyond the station, as to what this village or town could be all about. In that sense, the author has chosen a nice, off-beat topic to write about. But then, having chosen to travel to all these stations across India, he seems to have done no research at all about any of these wayside stations and the towns appended to them, prior to his departure. As a result, he arrives cold in each station with little idea as to whether there is anything special about them or what to do there after arrival.Read more ›
seems to revolve around the railway station. Ghosh has a chapter for each town he visits (only Arakkonam and Jolarpettai share a chapter) and the size of a chapter is vaguely proportional to the size of the town itself.
Ghosh’s narrative is light and transports one to the lanes of the place where he is at. While reading a few chapters, I felt an urge to be physically present at that place! Overall, the book serves as a good alternative travelogue to people who have traveled in India and are curious to know about the railway junctions they pass through in their journeys. The only thing that I found missing was the details of the Chai that is sold in these stations!
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In the days of non-computerized reservations, finding that place in the connecting train was an anxiety ridden experience. Not much thought was ever given to the junction as a city in its own right or the existence of a population that supported the life of that city. Bishwanath Ghosh actually alights from the train and heads out into those hidden cities behind the junctions to explore their life and soul.He does this in a very entertaining manner, taking us into the bowels of small restaurants, hotels and questionable lodging quarters.
I recommend this whole heartedly as a good read for anyone who has passed through those junctions - which is most of us who lived in one place and studied in another - constrained by the terms of the student concession tickets to seek connections at these railway "junctions" to ensure shortest route.
The journeys remind you of train travel in the '80's decade. Many of the places have changed in the recent past with the stations losing some of the prominence with the advent of electric locomotives and the decline of pantry service.
The author has tried listing down some anecdotes from each city visit. Some are memorable and some are thin on content. The constant reference to bars, booze and searching for a hotel tend to divert from the content.
The book makes for easy reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very nicely written book. The way things have been described, u will u r wandering in Mughalsarai. Good wot Mr. GhoshPublished on January 18, 2013 by Sumit Wahie