Once upon the tracks of Mumbai

Before I start this review, I would like to apologize profusely to the author for the delay in publishing this review. I had been slammed with other priorities which have taken over my life 24*7 and I am only just setting out to trying to find a balance between all things that matter. My sincere apologies to Rishi Vohra, who sent me the book around New Year. Though delayed, I have to let you know I absolutely loved the book and will definitely be reading books by you in the future

Image Courtesy: Internet
Image Courtesy: Internet

Blurb from the back of the book….

Autistic. Schizophrenic. Psychotic…

They use these words to describe Babloo the doctors, his family, his teachers everyone except Vandana. She treats him the way he wants the world to see him.

Mumbai the city that defines his ultimate desires. Will it allow him the love and normalcy he so craves?

Vandana yearns for a soul mate to rescue her from the confines of the Railway Colony they all live in. Is she looking in the right place?

Rail Man a fearless, real-life hero who succeeds in doing all that Babloo secretly wishes to do is Babloo his inspiration or is it the other way around?

A random twist of fate on Mumbai’s endless, serpent-like, jangling local train tracks ties all these characters together in a complex weave of love, heartbreak, and courage.

Babloo draws the reader into his fascinating, heart-rending journey through the twisted, choked lanes of Mumbai, into an open space where he can finally exhale, be born again.”

There is only one word I would use to describe this book – Wow!! Initially this book reminded me of “The clockwork Man” by William Jablonsky. The main protagonists in both books are “literal” thinkers without the ability to analyse much, the only difference being that the clockwork man was a mechanical robot whereas Babloo is human. The way the story has been narrated by the main protagonist in both cases is also the same and so is their quest to make a difference in their worlds, but the comparisons stop right here.

The book delves deep into the human psyche of middle class Indian families chasing average dreams while trying to keep pace with the fast life. Treated with indifference by his own family and society, Babloo draws us into his world of earnest thoughts and dreams coupled with the sincerity to do something that would make Vandana take notice of him. His love knows no bounds and he goes all out to impress the woman of his dreams. A big fan of Hindi cinema, Babloo sets out on a journey to cleanse Mumbai of the scum that plagues it’s citizens. He aims to be a super hero while harboring dreams of marrying Vandana and living happily ever after.

Burdened with an un-happy professional life, an old fashioned mother and dreams of finding true love and success, Vandana is your quintessential girl next door. Intelligent, pretty and charming she yearns for the day when she can control her life and leave behind the struggles that continue to plague her as she battles for her independence and dreams on a daily basis.

While Babloo is out trying to make the world a better place, fate takes a cruel twist when Vandana gets trapped in an unhappy engagement to Babloos brother, the boring and old fashioned stock broker intern Raghu. She turns to the local womanizing scoundrel Sikander who she believes is her Prince Charming. Blissfully unaware of any of this, Babloo tries to woo vandana in his own innocent way. Does he succeed? Does Vandana find her soul mate? Will true love over come all odds thrown its way?

The city of Mumbai provides ample fodder to the story and sometimes it feels like the city is a character by itself. The people, lifestyles, the environments that make up busy, gritty, dreamy and ruthless Mumbai have been beautifully described by the author so much I felt I was a part of the busy Mumbai scene, boarding its trains, exploring its markets and living the life of an average Mumbaiker.

The book also reminded me of the 80’s and its share of road side Romeos..It is amazing to see how these characters have transformed from usually harmless oglers to suave, womanizing and dangerous casanovas of today.

All in all a great book filled with loads of human emotions, dreams, simple and complicated relationships and ambitions all of which have been detailed very realistically by the author. I wonder how he has been able to describe them so well…that is real talent especially for a debut novel. With an interesting title, the book is a great super-hero novel for readers of India today and should definitely not be missed by anybody wanting to make a difference!


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