LANGUAGE AND FLOW: 2/5
WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5
“The pooja was being performed as the pandits burned diyas and fire to appease the Goddess. The colour of her face turned red as embers from the fire flew skywards. With the noise of the drums and the nagada, the atmosphere was electric.”
~ Anuj Tikku, Yeh! Hai India
Being an avid traveler has its own perks. You get to see and experience the world from a different lens and there is always something new and exciting to learn. Additionally, when you are a book lover, the next best alternative to travelling is to read about it and that’s where travel writing comes in.
It’s a genre that has been gaining interest in readers all over the world and rightly so!
When I recently had the chance to read a travel memoir about author Anuj Tikku’s travel adventures in India, my happiness knew no bounds.
Read on to know more about the book, Yeh! hai India and about my personal experience of reading it.
What to expect?
Yeh! Hai India is a book that is a lot of things all at once. Expect a book that takes you to a lot of places in India. Expect a book that not just shares travel itineraries and recommendations but also some very interesting stories about people that the author meets along the way.
What is the book really about?
The book in its truest essence is a collection of travel blog posts that the author publishes on his blog www.tikkustravelthon.com. The posts, though mostly about his travel escapades also have some musings, some reflections, some random fiction and some appeals for charitable contributions.
How good is the writing style?
Anuj makes use of an easy to understand language and keeps it simple. His narrations are sometimes thoughtful and sometimes witty, and often dramatized to give them the right flavor.
His uncanny ability to be brutally honest might end up slightly offending some readers but there is no denying the fact that his “not holding back” manages to keep things spicy enough for the reader.
Pictures that speak volumes
The book has a generous number of pictures accompanying almost all the pieces that the author has written. As is rightly said, a picture is worth a thousand words and these pictures indeed tell us a lot about the place that is being spoken about. They give that “extra edge” that makes Yeh! hai India stands out.
So much to learn
Yeh! Hai India provides a bunch load of information to every travel enthusiast.
Be it about the local cuisine of a particular place or the flight and road connectivity from major Indian cities, be it the kind of travel immersion experience one should be looking at or the approximate amount a person should expect to shell out for a particular type of hotel.
It is the specifics as well as the faint socio-political and historical background of a place that further enhances the value of this book.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari
From ultra-luxurious stays at the Taj Falaknuma palace to modest tents in the Himalayas, from the spiritual vibes of Varanasi to the party scenes of high society Bangalore, from rustic villages of Bandhavgarh to the serene lakes of Kashmir, from shoestring budget trips to over-the-board royal immersions – Yeh! Hai India has an abundance of tales to share.
The sheer variety it offers in terms of geography and experience is enough to overwhelm a travel enthusiast.
What I love the most?
The best thing about the book is that it doesn’t hold back. Anuj “tells it like it is” and he is perfectly candid about anything and everything under the sun. Be it his disappointment with the authorities at Tirupati for not giving him a free prasad laddu or his disgust with the pathetic butter chicken he had in Kerala.
Be it his disappointment with not seeing the tiger in Bandhavgarh or his displeasure at the rude words of a Kashmiri houseboat owner – there is nothing holding Anuj back from expressing his true emotions.
What could have been better?
The editing is a bit off and that sometimes results in mild dissatisfaction.
What I did not like at all?
The total absence of a planned chronology is what makes Yeh! Hai India a somewhat difficult book to navigate. Most of the chapters have been sequenced from newer to older entries which doesn’t make sense at all. Because of this, the reader ends up reading the conclusion to a particular travel episode first and the introduction to it, in the end.
It all boils down to the entertainment quotient
In the end, Yeh! Hai India does have certain things going for it which makes it a decent one time read. A candid conversational style of narration complemented with some very unique travel experiences is what makes this book click. However, I can’t help but wonder what a little more effort in copy editing and proofreading would have done for the book.
My final verdict
Can be read but only after making an informed decision.
Pick the book if
- Travel writing interests you.
- You particularly enjoy reading books about traveling in India.
- You are looking for light non-fiction that can be comfortably read in 3 to 4 hours.
Skip the book if
- You don’t enjoy non-fiction.
- Travel writing doesn’t interest you as a genre.
- You are looking for travel writing that is not about India.
- You can’t stand poorly edited books.
- You are looking for some serious writing.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Yeh! Hai India using the link below.