Print Length: 336 Pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
When this book first popped up on my twitter feed, I was determined to read it. It was like love at first sight — the title, cover design, blurb and partially excited to read an Indian origin author, Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh was an exhilarating read.
Monisha writes to enlighten and entertain; her train journeys with her fiancé Jem, starting from London and crossing countries including Italy, Moscow, Japan, China, Japan, North Korea, Tibet, Canada, USA, Kazakhstan and more; her description about people, surroundings, food, culture with insights on various historical as well as present facts needs to be read without rush.
Her style of writing is reflective and engaging. She also has humorous anecdotes that not only make you smile but leaves you with an afterthought about human interactions. What makes it unique is her successful attempt to travel around the world in seven months on trains. The variety of trains, the surrounding in a train and the people who take these trains; the differences between cultures can starkly be seen through her descriptions.
For days, the train’s trajectory across space and wilderness had plagued me with a feeling of displacement, the state of being in between. But now, I had a greater sense of place than ever before, bearing witness to the truth that the world was small, close and connected.
Her description on North Korea was unsettling; the feeling of vulnerability as a female traveller due to a mishap on the Russian train and the aftermath feeling was undeniably relatable; her journey on the ‘Death Railway’ showed the inhumane conditions of the labours who died while laying the tracks; her experience of bonding with people in Lhasa, Tibet was my favourite. And her time in Japan. They are unbelievable (in a good way though!)
If speed was improving our lives, then why were the days busier, longer and harder, our minds overburdened and tired? Over the previous weeks, the slowness of train travel had replenished my own mind, allowing me to pause and pick apart my thoughts – which it turned out were gratifyingly few.
In this world of frenzied stress from a variety of sources, this book reminds you to slow down and be grateful for good people and the human connections that you make while you travel. The underlying nature of goodness in people has not tarnished, in fact, travelling is a way to confirm it. And Monisha in her epic journey successfully does so. From train journeys that have been outright cruel, exhausting and gloomy to pleasant, comfortable and unforgettable experiences; this book has inspired me to look beyond my horizons positively. I was so happy reading this book, that I emailed Monisha pouring my love for it. And guess what? She replied! (her message is forever now saved in my archive folder)
Now I seriously can’t wait to go on a solo trip to Europe once I am done with my dissertation! *sighs*
Thank you so much for reading this post. Cheers!
Buy your copy: Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure