If it’s Monday, it should be Madurai – Book review

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I had to drive my son to a book/gift store in search of an action figure.

Once inside, I refused to look at the tantalising array of glossy books.

Thanks to online shopping, I already have loads of books still in their protective plastic covers, waiting to be opened.

I absolutely have no time to get another book to add to that stack.

But after ten minutes of flipping through magazines mindlessly, there was no sign of my son, who was still in the store’s basement looking for his superhero.

I gave in to temptation and walked to the popular books display.

What harm can it do? I just have to look at books for future buying, I told myself. I can be strong. I can overcome the temptation.

But all my determination went out of the window when my eyes fell on this bright yellow book with three saadhus grinning and waving at me.

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ a small voice in my head warned me.

I ignored it and picked it up. I couldn’t stop with just browsing. I had to buy it.

I’m so glad I did.

I enjoyed reading this ‘conducted tour of India’.

The author Srinath Perur, goes on ten conducted tours to write this book.

Why conducted tours? Because travelling with a group of people with totally different wavelength makes it all the more memorable.

Not only does he sees the quirks of others, living in close quarters for about a week,  he also forms some lasting bonds, by the time it ends.

From a religious tour of the temples in South India with a pious band of believers where the average age was 55, he takes on journeys to the backwaters of Kerala with westerners, a whirlwind European tour with a gang of Indians who watch only Hindi movies in the bus, ignoring the stately sites outside, a trip organised by a professor to search and showcase local innovations in rural India, camel safaris in Rajasthan, retracing Kabir’s sufi yatra and more.

He even takes us on a naughty, all-men tour to Tashkent where, under the cover of anonymity, certain adventurous Indian men have the time of their lives, under Perur’s watchful eye.

This book makes an interesting read also because it’s so personal. It’s his personal journey of self-discovery as well. His reconnection with music in the Kabir Yatra, for example.

Lounging at home, I got to visit all these places, encountered some awesome characters and glimpsed at different cultures. From hookers in Tashkent to saadhus in Maharashtra, Perur’s writing brought all of them alive..

I realised there are so many versions of India even we Indians don’t know about.

I judged this book by it’s cover. I have no regrets!

Truly “an idiosyncratic portrait of India and her people…”