Memos from Asia

5 Must-Read Travel Books About India

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It’s impossible to seize the essence of India through one book. There is always plenty to read about the country, with no dearth of subjects and topics, whether exploring India’s history, landscapes, or heritage.
However, individual books, particularly travel journals about India, give a never-before-seen glimpse into its eccentricities and people. From the country’s infatuation with tea to an outsider’s lively encounters in its capital, Delhi, here are some travel books on India that are engaging, informative, and must-reads before your exotic vacation.

Truck de India!

A travelogue with a difference, Rajat Ubhaykar’s Truck de India! gives the reader an entertainingly unique insight into the largest democracy of the world. Traveling across India, he forgoes conventional transportation modes, choosing instead to hitchhike with commercial trucks that form the country’s lifeline, carrying essential goods from one corner to another. Through his endeavor, Rajat learns of and shares the complexities that are an integral part of every trucker’s life. From drug use and work problems to understanding their choice in music or religious beliefs, the readers get to be a part of what is undoubtedly a fascinating journey about Indian people and places.

Stupid Guy Goes to India

Stupid Guy Goes to India is the story of Yukichi Yamamatsu, a Japanese national, who comes to India to sell Manga comics. The book is a Japanese translation, written in Manga style, adding a sense of authenticity to it. As an unconventional travelogue and memoir, there’s much to like about Stupid Guy Goes to India. Yukichi’s never say die attitude that takes him from one adventure to another is infectious. His art is simple yet manages to convey every emotion, feeling, and thought with clarity. Most importantly, Yukichi is honest about his journey, whether talking about dealing with locals, going to a brothel, doing business without knowing the language, or eating super spicy Indian street food.

Hot Tea Across India

A travel book that highlights its author’s personality as much as it talks about the places he visits, is bound to be interesting. Hot Tea Across India has Rishad Saam Mehta sharing with readers his passion for adventure, automobiles, food, and of course, tea. A light-hearted read, the book manages to capture the growing appetite that many Indians nowadays have for offbeat and adventure travel. Moreover, Rishad has a way with words, so when he describes his experiences, it’s as if the reader is transported to that particular point in time and place. Packed with funny moments, travel tips, and a lust for life, Hot Tea Across India is the kind of book that evokes wanderlust in an instant.

If It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai

In a world where every other travel enthusiast is raving about their solo travels, If It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai takes on the novel route of featuring group tours. Shrinath Perur, in his downright humorous travel book, not only writes about traveling “in” India (and a few international destinations) but also about traveling “with” India. In his ten travelogues, Srinath meticulously observes his fellow Indian companions, never demeaning them or their actions in any way, no matter their peculiarities. What makes this a must-read travel book on India is the rather amusing human element of group tours and its follies. Lastly, there is the opportunity to visit the Thar, Uzbekistan, Tamil Nadu, and what many will agree is the ultimate group tour for most Indians, a trip around Europe.

Following Fish

India’s magnificently assorted and lengthy coastline means there’s much about it that travelers tend to miss out when touring through the nation. With the help of Following Fish, the same traveler can immerse themselves into the philosophies and cuisines that form an essential part of the coastal experience. However, Samanth Subramanian doesn’t just take us on any trip. He narrows down his narrative by giving it a theme, that of fish. So, as readers meander through the essays covering different regions, they get a somewhat holistic picture of how important fish is to the people living along the coasts. For some, it is a medicinal cure. For others, a way to earn a living. Beautifully written and packed with culinary deliciousness, Following Fish will have you packing for a coastal trip in no time.

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