On Rishad Saam Mehta’s journeys — and as a travel writer and all-round road-trip junkie, he’s been on many — there’s a particular thing he noticed. There’s not a highway, road or dirt track in India where you can’t find a cup of chai whenever you want it. And with those cuppas come encounters and incidents that make travelling in India a fascinating adventure. In this riveting book, which includes stories of honey- and saffron-infused tea shared with a shepherd in Kashmir, and a strong brew that revives the author after almost getting lynched by an irate mob in Kerala, Rishad takes you across the length and breadth of India, from Manali to Munnar, from the Rann of Kutch to Khajuraho, with a wonderful combination of wit, sensitivity and insight.
I was skeptical of reading this book before I requested for a review copy. I have not read much of travel books. I was in a doubt if I will end up liking the book.But the premise sounded interesting and I felt I should definitely read it. I hope I will justify the book in this review.
The first thing when you open the book you will read contents. The book has amusing chapter names. Couple of my favorites being The Bike Bandit, Respect the road. They make the book sound fun.
The book kick starts with brief introduction of tea helps author and is integral part of authors travel. And then starts the writing about adventures.
Author’s first adventure mentioned in the book was to hitch a ride from Mumbai to Delhi in a truck. He and one of his friend tried to flag down a truck and get a ride to Delhi.And then there is a camping adventure trip to Chandra Taal. The author takes us to Manali , Leh and Ladakh, Spiti. And so on across India. While reading about Mehta’s beautiful description about the places, I realized the amount of traveling I have to plan. It just tickles your bone to go and do what he has and that we are missing on a lot of things. This book will give you couple of ideas on traveling. It is not a guide though.
This book came across as a scribbling diary of traveller cos it is more than just adventurous travels. There are chapters dedicated to chefs, guides, guns, bus chase and animals Mehta encounters in his travels. All these mentions and stories around them makes this book very warm and lovely.
But writing about travel and beautiful places is like half job done. Half of the job is left on imagination of reader. Thats what makes a travel book tricky. A few good photographs would have done justice to the places. It is a personal preference though.
The book starts strongly with encounters and incidents around tea. But mid way between the book the purpose is diminished and by the end of the book hot tea becomes irrelevant. But this does not work against the book for me as you get carried away with whatever the book has to offer. It may not work with people who go by the purpose mentioned on the back of the cover.
Hot Tea across India is a delightful and warm read for lazy evenings to get you excited. But it lacks the charm of Motorcycle Diaries.
Review copy received via Blogadda.