HOT TEA ACROSS INDIA - RISHAD SAAM MEHTA
Reviewed by: Pinak Kapadia
Once in a while, there comes a book that offers a completely new perspective about everything you take for granted, and changes the way you see things. To say that "Hot Tea across India" is such a book would be an exaggeration. But the book does offer a fresh perspective about one thing in India which we do so often that we almost do not notice ourselves doing it. That act is drinking tea. The book is about how this simple, but uniquely Indian act of drinking tea at road-side dhabas at different corners of the country, is linked to experiences that stay long in memory.
The author used to write for Autocar India about his travel experiences, and is a freelance journalist. Because of his habit of writing for magazines, this book has a racy feel to it, which is strangely refreshing. Each chapter deals with one separate incident from the author's travels. You have to admit, the man has travelled. From a car rally in an alto in Himalayas, to biking in the ghats, to hitch-hiking from Mumbai to Delhi in a truck, he has done it all.
When someone writes about travelling in India, generally there is always some mention about the bad traffic, the potholes, the corruption and the poor facilities for impromptu travelers. Rishad steers clear of all such incidents. When he mentions about a car or bike breakdown, or his encounter with cops, it is always in a lighter vein. Sleeping in a truck for a few nights can never be fun for most of us, but Rishad almost makes it seem desirable. And at the end of it all, it stays about people. People who serve refreshing tea in the middle of the night, people who go the extra mile to make your stay comfortable, people who save you from disaster. India is never short of such people. Next time, when you grab a cuppa, keep your eyes open for an interesting story from the person serving it.
Grab the book if: You like to read magazines or light reads, you are a travel buff, a tea lover or are looking for something fresh to read.
Avoid if: You like your books to have a deeper meaning, your idea of travel books is not Bill Bryson but "travels with herodotus".
Do read "Hot tea across India". It will make you grab the key to your car and take the long road.
"The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.....
And I must follow if I can"
Rishad, we are waiting to read where the road takes you next.