The minute I heard of the book, ‘Hot Tea Across India’, I just knew that I had to read it! After all, tea is something Shankar says I practically live on, while travelling! While he can’t stand the sweet and watery liquid that passes for tea in most places these days, and prefers to abstain, I can’t stay away it, especially on train journeys, where both Samhith and Shankar now know to call out to every chap selling chai, especially masala chai on any station small or big!
|Image courtesy: Westland Books|
Coming back to the book, I received an invitation to the launch, and I was so enthusiastic, that I wrote straightway to the organisers, asking if they could spare me a copy. They were so obliging that the book landed on my doorstep the very next day! Being all alone at home, and with the writer’s block, which refuses to leave me, I decided to start at once. Unfortunately, as it turned out, I was unable to attend the book launch after all. It would have been nice to meet the author, Rishad Saam Mehta, but that is something that looks difficult as of now! I promised the publishers that I would write a review, so here goes....
Rishad Saam Mehta is an engineer turned travel writer and photographer, and this book is an account of his road trips across India – from the snow-covered roads of the Himalayas to the winding lanes of Munnar. He talks of his experiences along the journeys, the memorable as well as the not-so-memorable encounters, and of course, the ubiquitous tea, which shows up no matter where he goes!
The major part of the book is about his drives in the Himalayas. While I haven’t been lucky enough to visit any of those places yet, and I don’t even share the same love for driving that he does, I was caught up in his experiences, and for the next few days even wished that I would sometime go along the same routes that he did! His experience at the Raid-de-Himalayas is the kind of adventure I wouldn’t even think of trying, but something that had me gripping the book tighter as I read! Reading about him hitching a ride from Mumbai to Delhi on a truck had me laughing all the way, and his account of the ‘Luxarey’ bus ride from Haridwar to Manali had me smiling ruefully in agreement.... I have been on such buses many a time! The story of his first car was something I liked so much that I read it out to Samhith, as an example of how to write an 'autobiography of a car'!
The book is a light and enjoyable read, one that makes you laugh or smile all the way. My only complaint is that the Himalayas take up most of the book, leaving very little room for the other places, especially the southern and eastern parts of the country. That said, his Himalayan experiences are so much fun that it would have been a pity to leave any of them out! The book is the perfect light reading for anyone who loves to travel, or even those who love to read about travel! It is, however, not a guide book, or even a guide to the best tea places, so do not expect any specific details. Tea is something that just crops up everywhere he goes, which is true no matter where you go in India, but the book is more about the experiences than the tea. itself.
All in all, the book came at a perfect time for me. I enjoyed the book, and hopefully writing this review will break the writers block and help me catch up with all the posts I have to write about my own travels and experiences!
Special thanks to Westland Books and The Book Lovers, for giving me an opportunity to read this wonderful book!