Colorful Notions: The Roadtrippers 1.0 by Mohit Goyal is a unique novel insofar as it combines masterfully travelogue with fiction. The novel tells the story of three people in their twenties who give up plush jobs and secure life in order to embark on a three-month long journey across India covering 25 historic destinations. Their personal stories are intertwined with the journey and present dramatic scenes making the novel a gripping read. The reader also travels along with them from Delhi to places such as Ladakh, Kanyakumari and the Sundarbans.
Abhay, Shashank and Unnati are the travellers. Abhay hails from a broken family and there is little love lost between him and his parents. He longs for relationships. The massive Shashank is a businessman whose weakness is food. Unnati is his fiancée and the journey offers her a few occasions to rethink her romantic attachment.
The personal stories of the three characters appear at relevant places and times in the narrative which mostly speaks about the journey which brings in its own characters such as Mutthuraman Swaminathan Unnikrishnan aka Unni who is shown as a shrewd swindler. He is a tourist guide in the Corbett Park and can create a tiger where there actually is none. He drinks all along though drinking is prohibited and gets out of the vehicle during the safari though that is prohibited too. About a hundred pages later we’ll meet a few other South Indian characters in Mysore who are also slightly caricatured as lungi-wearing, non-Hindi and non-English speaking country bumpkins. Does the author carry some prejudices against the South Indians? The reader may wonder. Mercifully, the stereotypes don’t last long and the journey continues.
The journey has its own adventures, risks as well as thrills. There is romantic rivalry as Abhay gets infatuated with his friend’s fiancée and plays a nasty game to drive in a wedge between them. But quarrels are soon made up and the characters prove to be people with sophisticated hearts and sentiments. At Bodhgaya the two men (Unnati has had to take leave of them due to an accident in the Sundarbans) encounter a Buddhist lama who teaches them the secret of happiness. This part of the novel is at variance with the others as it turns mildly philosophical if not spiritual. The author succeeds in giving his work certain required depth.
In a novel which takes the characters from place to place, we can expect diverse experiences. There is adventure in one place, horror in a place like the Bhangarh Fort or awe in another. The author succeeds in creating those sensations in the reader while telling a credible and delightful story.
Young readers will find the book absolutely delightful while the older ones will find it amusing.
Read more about the book and the author at http://www.theroadtrippers.in/
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