Title : ONCE UPON THE TRACKS OF MUMBAI
Language : English
Author : Rishi Vohra
Genre : Fiction
Publisher : Jaico Publishing House ( 2012 )
Edition : 1st Edition
ISBN-13 : 9788184953053
ISBN-10 : 8184953054
Binding : Paperback
Price : Rs.175 ( Buy from Flipkart.com for Rs.118 ( 32% Off)
Pages : 272
The Book Summary : 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 Mumbais 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.
My Point of View ( P.O.V ) : When this book was sent by the author himself, I was really curious to read it. Though I had two other books pending for review, I chose this one as soon as I received it. I had read the blurb and found it quite interesting, as the main protagonist had a certain mental problem and I wanted to see how the author handled this sensitive subject, its plot and the characters. I was not disappointed, as within the first few pages itself I was transported to the Bandra railway colony and the Mumbai railway tracks. Since, the locations are familiar to me, it was quite easy to visualize the story as it happened.
Initially, I had expected it to be a love story ( thanks to the elaborate book cover, that looks almost like a movie poster ), but I discovered that its so much more, and that's why it makes the book engrossing and the readers curious as to what happens next, as you flip its pages.
So, I entered Babloo's ( Balwant Srivastav ) world as he took me around. First I got introduced to his rather mundane, purposeless life ( and its quite obvious that he has problems ), then I met his typical middle-class family ( for whom things like money, marriage etc mattered most ). I really loved the characters the author etched out, be it Raghu, his rather self-centered brother or his parents, who pampered him ( i.e Raghu ) as he excelled far better in studies/career and was considered 'normal', compared to Babloo himself, who was often left ignored. I could feel for Babloo in the book, as I believe, what is portrayed is quite close to reality as well - what an autistic or any other mental patient generally goes through, the isolation and neglect they experience. Ignored and left alone, they often tend to create their own imaginary world/friends and draws comfort from that. The author has beautifully led us into one such complex autistic mind. The details that the author has given via Babloo's complex character, habits etc gives a clear indication that the subject has been thoroughly reseached.
Babloo then took me to the Bandra railway station, where he often walked to, with his love Vandana - who is the only person to treat him normally, although he expresses his feelings only towards the end. And Vandana herself, a very likeable character is unaware of it too, with much drama having already happened with her engagement to Raghu and her crush ( if I may call it that ) on Sikander, who is again a very colourful, flashy character, wicked and carnal to the core, towards whom girls easily got attracted to and he in turn, enjoyed exploiting their innocence. Although Sikander or Raghu's characters are supposedly negative, I liked reading them both, just as I liked all other characters as they fit the story so well. Can't imagine the book to be complete without them.
Lots of things happen throughout the story, as Rail Man appears in between to give justice to rail users and end rail related crimes. His first case, that got him the 'title - Rail Man' being, saving a girl who was molested by a group of men near the tracks. The girl incidently, a scribe with a popular news paper, plays an important part towards the end. Needless to guess who the Rail Man is, its Babloo himself who uses his strength and sense of justice. Of course, its an attempt to impress Vandana, but then again, she gets to know about it only towards the end.
The story for the major part is written in first person i.e narrated by Babloo himself, but interestingly it switches gears few times and give the perspective of the other characters too, which makes it a delightful read as you get to know the other character's thought processes as well. I wish the author used few more pages in the end, and had written the climax a little bit more elaborately, as he did the first part of the book, because I found the story ending quite rapidly ( in a hurry, that didn't feel real like the rest of the book ). Re-editing certain parts will make the book flawless. But overall, I must say I enjoyed it a lot and am glad that Babloo got a happy ending after all. The story also gives out certain important social messages sublty, throughout the story, without being too preachy. I finished the book at one go and would love to read more from this author.
I'd rate the book 4 stars out of 5.
Positives : It is truely a mass fiction, which can be read and enjoyed by all. I loved the easy, simple and smooth flowing language that the author have used, instead of making it into a heavy literature piece, as some Indian authors often try to do and fail. The characters are strong and story well paced, which will keep readers on the edge till the end. For a first time novel, the author has done a splendid job. This story will make a good movie too, and I wont be surprised if it happens for real. Highly recommended.
Negatives : None! Except, maybe the hasty climax.
Who will enjoy this? - Everyone!
Buy or Don’t Buy? – A Must Buy!
About the Author : Rishi Vohra recently relocated back to Mumbai after completing a Green MBA from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law, prior to which he had a successful career in the Indian entertainment industry. Having been a guest columnist for various newspapers in India, he currently writes for delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine. Writing is a passion for him and he has plans to take it up quite seriously. This is his first novel. Rishi Vohra’s debut book, Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai has been very well received by celebrities, critics and readers. Visit website www.rishivohra.com for more information.
Thank you Rishi Vohra for the autographed copy!
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