Review published on May 18, 2016.
I dare say that there must be heaps of books relevant to travel in foreign climes, I have looked through quite a few in my time and I tend to find myself bereft of interesting narrative. Too many are really there either for the author to brag about, or are corporate-designed travel summaries, either way, they have fiscal gain as a bottom line. However, this little book fits my idea of travel reading superbly well. It is written by an electrician who enjoys his own company, enjoys making a decent itinerary, books things well in advance in the main and enjoys himself whenever he can.
The author, Darren Stevens, a seemingly quiet, unassuming gentleman, has written a journal of his solo jaunt across Northern India. He spares nothing that could affect the British Yeoman on his annual holiday. He dislikes flying, enjoys his food, likes orderliness, dislikes chaos and is not averse to taking banned photographs whenever the chance arises.
Immensely well written in an extremely easy manner, I found my mind engaged from the very first page. His way of telling us how he found it all is refreshingly unbiased, the hired car trips, the train, the internal flights, the class variation when queuing to enter somewhere. His rather cynical approach to his findings is a revelation to the reader, that he does not suffer fools gladly came over extremely well. He also savours the often rather ironic turn of events, and brazenly writes it all down.
I rather liked the quote, although not directly from his Indian soiree, but more a personal observation:
“There is a country where getting drunk whilst wearing Union Jack shorts is acceptable and the norm – it is called Spain. Go there and eat your fish and chips and look at photos of India on the Internet”
Perhaps one could call him a snob, but I perfectly understand where he is coming from. One can sense the cynicism in his writings and I fully concur with him as he wends his way through his agenda. One is left a trifle bewildered at his pronouncement about the strong aroma, nay stench, emanating from the vicinity of the ‘Taj Mahal’, who could imagine one of the ‘Wonders of the Modern World’ stinking like sewer. His funnily clever worded treatise on how to use the smallest room in the house made me chuckle.
A real pleasure to have read this book – even if I never go to India, I now know enough to be gently wary, be better informed and organized before you go and be prepared for the unexpected.
India Travels by Darren Stevens
Fastprint Publishing 978-178456-256-4 pbk 2015