Read these books before your trip to India
India’s magic lies in a vibrant abundance of people and landscapes. From the temples of Varanasi to the marble fortresses of Delhi and the carved sandstone palaces of Rajasthan, there is plenty to explore and experience.
This is the miraculous and triumphant story of Saroo Brierley, a young man who used Google Earth to rediscover his childhood life and home in an incredible journey from India to Australia and back again... At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write or recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home, and pore over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his family.
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 40,000km - 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...
Dispatched to a home in the sacred city of Varanasi, Lalgudi Iyer spends his days immersed in scripture. When an accident leaves him with concussion, he receives a vision of his past incarnation - he was the mythological warrior Bhima, sent from the heavens to destroy evil. Convinced of his need to continue Bhima's mission and revive the noble principles of the Mahabharata, Iyer embarks on an epic adventure down the sacred Ganges with the help of his trust companion Bencho, the undertaker. His attempts at restoring order to the world - and winning the heart of the half-beautiful but oblivious widow Damayanti - are hampered only by his complete detachment from the reality of contemporary India.
Bombay's story is told through the lives, often desperately near the edge, of some of the people who live there. Hitmen, dancing girls, cops, movie stars, poets, beggars and politicians - Suketu looked at the city through their eyes. The complex texture of these extraordinary tales is threaded together by Suketu Mehta's own history of growing up in Bombay and returning to live there after a 21-year absence, and in looking through the eyes of his found the city within himself.
Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere. As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.