Vivek Tejuja's Reviews > Planes, Trains, and Auto-Rickshaws: A Journey Through Modern India

Planes, Trains, and Auto-Rickshaws by Laura Pedersen
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Jul 11, 12

Read in July, 2012

I am an Indian. Born and raised in this diverse country, whose norms and ways of thinking might seem strange to an outsider or to someone who wants to know this country better. I guess that tends to happen a lot with writers who want to write about the country – about the so-called enigmatic land of varied cultures and traditions. The experience that start offs as being strange slowly becomes routine and a part of them, hence making the writing easy to believe. There is a context to why I said this.

I have just finished reading, “Planes, Trains, and Auto-Rickshaws: A Journey through Modern India” by Laura Pedersen. Therefore, the thoughts that were mentioned earlier. Laura Pedersen has written an account of India, through her travels in the most hilarious manner. She has infused seriousness along the way and humour definitely adds to the atmosphere/settings as described. Laura’s travels are jotted in the most candid form – from the popular stereotypes (the well-known digestive system problems that Indian food can cause) to the clichés that are soon breaking.

The book takes readers through almost all of India – covering ground from Delhi to Kolkata to Mumbai to Varanasi as well. The topics touched on are contemplative. Laura speaks of the caste system to the driving styles and the roads in question. All of this is always done with a touch of humour.

My first impression on receiving the book was, how would a person who is not from the country write about it? However, that was nothing but the initial apprehension. Laura thought of undertaking a journey through India by watching a TV Show Bewitched, with its Dr. Bombay character that propelled her to see the differences between American Indians and Indians from India. This piqued her curiosity about the lay of the land and hence the journey began with its ups and downs.

Laura compares India of the past and India as is now with a keen insight into consumerism and the way it is affecting the entire nation. I found this part in the book to be most apt and one that I could relate to easily. The way she describes the country is but obviously unbiased and objective. There are views that a reader may or may not agree with, however that should not hamper the reading experience.

I am from India and there were parts in the book that I wasn’t aware of about my own country. So for me, “Planes, Trains and Auto-Rickshaws” was not only an entertaining read, but also an informative one.
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