Title : Hot Tea Across India
Author : Rishad Saam Mehta
Publisher : Tranquebar
ISBN : 978-93-81626-10-8
If you are looking for a quick read, a light entertainment, no serious story and do not want your brain to work too much, this book fits the bill perfectly.
Rishad Saam Mehta is a travel writer and has embarked on many journeys across the length and breadth of India from Leh to Munnar and from Rann of Kutch to Khajuraho. He begins narrating his experiences by a very interesting comment on Indian roads - ' If there is one certainty about roads in India, it is that - no matter where you are or what the hour is - if you want a cup of tea, you'll find a chai ka dukaan within a few kilometers' . Rishad shares the experiences of some of his adventurous trips in this book, bringing to readers a slice of Indian-ness on the highways and roads. He is an enthusiast traveler and took up a job with Autocar Indian that had him going on a driving holiday to exotic locations in India every month for eight years.
After having shared many cups of tea in different parts of India, in different situations, hosted by diverse people ranging from dacoits to sadhus, at various altitudes and in multifarious mental states, his belief gets reinforced that tea is one beverage which brings the security of known in unknown and a bit of solace amidst commotion.
The book is full of adventure and the narrative is hilarious and breezy. The author has succeeded in weaving beautifully the vivid description of various characters and places which make the scenes come to life in front of the eyes. I really enjoyed the bus ride experience in Himalayas from Haridwar to Manali with all sorts of co-passengers including a herd of bleating goats.
It is a travelogue but not a travel guide though it motivates the readers to visit some of the exotic places that he describes in his book.
But I feel the author takes pleasure in cracking jokes on anything related to the daily ablution routine and such jokes crop up quite frequently though out the book. At some points it felt like the author is trying too hard to make the narrative witty and hilarious but such instances were rare and far between so can be ignored easily.