Review 2 : The great railway bazaar

Originally published in : 1975

Author : Paul Theroux

About the Author :
American novelist, Short story writer,

After moving to London in 1972, Theroux set off on an epic journey by train from Great Britain to Japan and back. His account of this journey was published as The Great Railway Bazaar, his first major success as a travel writer and now a classic in the genre.[

Reading Experience :

Reading Paul could be a very relaxing deed, only if the reader mere follows what Paul experiences and thinks of him as an individual. All the people whom he meets, all the places he travels to and all the train rides that he takes is very subjective to his experience.

Though he does full justice to the words that he picks while laying down his epilogues. His witty comments and humorous narration are jewels which could keep you glued to his journey. The descriptions of the places, transportation system and the general behaviour of people which he experienced, are well garlanded.

However, Most of the anecdotes that he writes has a very bitter and sarcastic tinge to it. He highly criticises the regular chores and general behaviour of the humans from underdeveloped nations he comes across. It would not be right to say either that he did any injustice to that, he merely wrote what he experienced and most of that was on the nail.

His journalistic part of personality comes out very well in the book. He talks about day to day politics, regime and government of the countries he travels to. When you read the book, you not only read about Pauls’s journey, you transpose to the time and understand the environment of that time. I personally found his writings about Afghanistan, Singapore and Japan very very interesting. At the same time, I felt he could have done a little more justice with India, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Ease of Reading :  Easy

A very easy and fast read. But the book weighs heavy on projecting a lot of negative rhetoric, which could be a cause of resentment for the readers.

Hearts (on 5.) :  ❤ | ❤ | ❤ |<3|<3.  [3]

Favourite Stumbles :

  • I was cured of my misery by more work.
  • It is only with age that you acquire the gift of decay.
  • Without change there can be no nostalgia.
  • My urge to prove my sanity made be gabble, and my gabbling disproved my claim.
  • Its presence there was bizzare, this manmade thing in so remote a place, competing with the grandeur of the enormous gorge and yet seeming more grand than its surroundings, which were hardly negligible. [his magical description of Gokteik Viaduck, Myanmar; built in 1899 by Pennsylvania Steel Company for the British Raj.]
  • The children were wide awake, pinned to the benches by their snoring parents [ I just imagined this and could not stop laughing]
  • one could determine the sacredness of water by its degree of stagnation. The holiest was bright green. [sarcasm]
  • A weakness for exxggeration seemed a chronic affliction of some indians.
  • It is simplest fact of Indian life, there are too many Indians.
  • Mark Twain’s comment on Indian : it is a curious people. With them, all life seems to be sacred except human life.
  • The Indian habit of ignoring the obvious
  • To see the Indian villages You must go to the villages, but that is not strictly true, because the indians have carried their villages to the railway station.
  • With the physique of a bull and the gentleness of a child, he maintains in the same breathe
  • I can tell you my name, beyond that you have to find out for yourself.
  • one cannot say in few words what one does or is.
  • sactter of papers and books a writer builds around himself until it acquires the cosy solidity of a nest
  • the fear of hunger produces a kind of hunger of its own.

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