30 April, 2013

#BookReview :: Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra

"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.

This is essentially Babloo’s story. He is that autistic boy next door. You know, the one everyone whispers about? Well, Babloo has Vandana in his life, the girl who has always been nice and friendly to him and the girl who is in love with. But there are complications in the story that even Babloo isn’t aware of. On one hand there’s Sikander’s interest in Vandana, is like a shark circling around food and on the other hand is Vandana’s engagement to Babloo’s younger brother, Raghu. But then again, Babloo has always been a loner who has most of his conversations in his head and spends most of his time on the railway track and thinking about Vandana. Then there is the case of the ‘Rail Man’, who is the source of gossip to most people as he stops a lot of crimes from happening in and around the Bandra railway tracks.

Read the story to follow Vandana’s unhappy engagement, Sikander’s plan to get Vandana, the Rail-man’s heroic escapades and most of all to find out more about Babloo’s life.

The first thing that caught my attention about this book is its protagonist, a person who is not in the ‘cool’ club or drives sports cars or have the latest branded clothes and certainly doesn’t have any of the hip lingos in his vocabulary. He is the boy that the neighborhood kids went to school with but were never really friends with. He is the kid that makes some of you curious. He makes some of you feel pity him and his parents, but he is the one kid you do not want to make acquaintance of. Odd, right? But that’s what I admired the most about this novel because it was a step away from the very clichéd character and a difficult one to write about. The other characters can make a stand of their own but failed to make a mark on me beside Babloo.

The plot is simple and straightforward. Most of you will be able to predict how the story will unfold and how it would end, but that didn’t really stop me from turning the pages. Besides his characterization, Rishi Vohra has also managed to catch my attention with his style of writing. I have always maintained that it is more difficult to create something beautiful by using simple language. That is what the author has done here – created something extraordinary using ordinary language and a steady pace.

It is nothing unworldly exceptional, but it is special. I had a good couple of hours reading this light read and I hope so will you in case you decide to pick this up.

Find out more about Rishi Vohra

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