Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Once upon the tracks of Mumbai - Book Review

A few weeks back, I had an email from Rishi Vohra, the author of Once upon the tracks of Mumbai, asking if I would be willing to review his debut novel Once upon the tracks of Mumbai. After checking out his website and reading the blurbs in it, I agreed.
The book has a well though out, robust plot. The story revolves around the protagonist - Balwant Srivastav aka Babloo. "They" said that [Babloo] had psychiatric porblems. That [he] was autistic. "They" said that [he] was schizophrenic and psychotic. That [he] had split personality disorder. "They" stand for every one in Babloo's world - his parents, his brother, his doctor, his neighbours. Every one, that is, except Vandana - the love of Babloo's life. Vandana is a modern day woman who yearns for the typical fairy tale romance. She waits for the Prince Charming who will take her away from her dreary life at the railway colony.
Into this simple love story, enters Railway Man - a real life hero whose mission in life seems to be the prevention of crimes along the railway tracks of Mumbai.
Will Vandana find her Prince Charming or will she, like millions of her country women, settle for a person of her parents' choice?
What about Babloo's love for her? Will it succeed?
Who is Railway Man?
To find out, pick up a copy of the book today.
What I liked about the novel:
The crisp narrative and the robust plot.
The way in which the characters have been sketched. Every character is well thought out and readers will be able to identify with the characters and the situations that the characters find themselves in. The girl with dreams in her eyes, the middle class parents who worry about what their neighbours will say, the hurry to get their daughter married off before she becomes "too old", the rich road side Romeo and his side kicks, the parents who make no attempt to understand their autistic child - these are people that exist outside the realms of this book, in the world around you and me.
The unusual choice of protagonist. I have rarely come across an Indian author who chooses as his protagonist, a person with a mental illness. I laughed and cried with Babloo, feeling sad that he existed only at the periphery of his family's everyday life and felt happy that he felt strong enough to ignore what everybody said about him.
Overall, Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai is a wonderful, breezy read and at a price of Rs 175, definitely value for money - a purchase that you will not regret.
For more information on the book/author, please visit 


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