Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai: An Amazing Love Story Of An Autistic Man

We all live some considerable amount of of life in fantasy. Successful men learn the art of balancing their world of fantasy and the reality of life. The sooner this art is mastered, the earlier is the taste of success that comes in one's life.

Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai is Rishi Vohra's debutant novel but the way it has been conceptualized and scripted, it is so well that nowhere it leaves minutest of the doubt to its reader that Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai is so. There is considerable amount of maturity and depth in the writing with flawless flow and continuity in the story.

Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra is about a young man who talks to himself more than to the people in his family and society. He is strong in his thinking with a positive frame of mind without bothering about what others think about him. The lead character in Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai is Babloo (Balwant) Srivastav, 24, elder between the two brothers in the family of a clerk Amar Srivatav. The family lived in railway quarters along with the other railway staff that was situated quite closer to the railway tracks. Babloo is a diagnosed as an autistic child during his school days and had soon started acquiring other labels from people around like schizophrenic, psychotic etc.

Babloo could never understand what teachers used to teach in the classroom. He was always struggling with the absorption of words spoken by others in normal speed and hence always fell short of getting the whole sentence. But he had many good habits - like getting up early in the morning, regularly exercising etc. He gradually had no place in his home or society around due to his problems and that is why he never used to spend time at home (since nobody required him or used to talk to him), and had no friends around. There is lot that happens in the interesting storyline of Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai. 

There is only one person on this earth who used to take Babloo normal and that was Vandana - a girl living in his society and daughter of Shekhar Gupta, the head of Bandra railway office where Babloo's father was a clerk. Babloo starts loving Vandana and decided in his heart to do something 'big' in his life just to convince her that he is a perfect match for her. A local cable business operator Sikander notices this hidden one sided love in Babloo's heart and decided to take advantage out of it. He convinces Babloo to introduce Vandana to him so that he finds out if she also loves Babloo or not. Sikander is not at all a good character and has always wrong intentions towards girls residing in railway colony.

Among lot of twists and turns, Vandana gets engaged to Babloo's younger brother whom she never liked. Sikander manages to falsely convince Vandana that he is a good guy and she starts liking him unknowing that Sikander has crooked ideas to just get her and then leave her. Babloo keeps talking to his inner voice and gradually develops himself into an altogether different character - the Rail Man who becomes messiah for people in trouble and distress. In this new avatar Babloo saves a press reporter when she is being killed by a gang on the Holi day. Similarly he saves the life of a diamond merchant who is being killed by another gang after taking 'supari'.

The best lines in Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai by Rishi Vohra, I found among many others is when Babloo is talking to his inner voice asking how will he be able to catch hold of his dreams being so slow in life. He is replied back - not to worry, as if he is not able to catch his dreams, is dreams will come to him some day. And that is what happens one day when Babloo becomes a real big man in his life and gets married to Vandana.

Last but not the least this fantastic book has grabbed an 'Honorable Mention' in the 'General Fiction' category at the prestigious Hollywood Book Festival 2013. Kudos to Rishi Vohra on writing Once Upon The Tracks Of Mumbai.

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