Around India in 80 Trains
In 1991, Monisha Rejesh’s family left England for Madras but returned to England after only two years after a lackluster experience. Twenty years later, Rajesh returned, hoping to connect with her country of origin. Inspired by Jules Verne, she experienced over 40,000 km of India by 80 different trains.
“Crackles and sparks with life like an exploding box of Diwali fireworks.” — William Dalrymple
In 1991, Monisha Rajesh’s family uprooted from Sheffield to Madras in the hope of making India their home. Two years later, fed up with soap-eating rats, severed human heads and the creepy colonel across the road, they returned to England with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Two decades on, she turns to a map of the Indian Railways and takes a page out of Jules Verne’s classic tale, embarking on an adventure around India in 80 trains, covering 40,000 km – the circumference of the Earth. She hopes that 80 train journeys up, down and across India will lift the veil on a country that has become a stranger to her.
Along the way, Monisha discovers that the Indian Railways – featuring luxury trains, toy trains, Mumbai’s infamous commuter trains, and even a hospital on wheels – have more than a few stories to tell, not to mention a colourful cast of characters. And with a self-confessed “militant devout atheist” in tow, her personal journey around a country built on religion isn’t quite what she bargained for…