Book Title: Nautanki Diaries
Author: Dominic Franks
Total Number of Pages: 272
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Publication Date: 20 Feb 2018
Nautanki Diaries sits comfortably in the travelogue niche, yet in the best traditions of travel writing it does much more than just describe the passing scenery. With candour and a quirky sense of humour, the author carries the reader on a twenty-two-day journey on a cycle from Bengaluru to New Delhi, aiming to reach in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
As a schoolboy, Dominic Franks looked up to his sports coach, Shikaari, as a mentor and inspiration. Shikaari inadvertently planted the seed of a journey that he himself had made in 1982 in his young student’s mind. Eventually, the author decides to use the same sort of ‘doodhwallah’ bicycle and names her Nautanki.
Replete with anecdotes and (un)conventional wisdom gleaned from the conversations he has along the way, Nautanki Diaries is a ‘cycling book’—one that allows the reader to share the intricacies of cycling as a sport, as meditation in motion and as a craft.
As for Nautanki—she plays her role perfectly, in true heroine style, right till her very last act.
REVIEWED BY SOHINEE DEY
Another travelogue sits comfortably in my reading shelf! Nautanki Diaries was a fun light-hearted read and it came as a breath of fresh air from all the serious (and by that I mean made up murder mysteries, unbelievable tragic love stories, crime novels with predictable killers and romantic comedies that didn’t help me laugh) books that I have been reading lately. The concept is original. I don’t think I have read any book where a cycle literally becomes the protagonist.
Dominic Franks documents his journey with his partner in crime, Nautanki as he measures the distance from Bangalore to Delhi to be a spectator of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. As he covers the distance, he narrates his experience of the whole trip and also shares some incidences that is worth giggling. I normally don’t giggle but this book tickled me in the right places!
This travelogue is very different from what writers tend to write. While others tend to travel lavishly and would describe all the ‘amenities’ and use every adjective to describe the sceneries, Dominic Frank chose a road trip, that too on a cycle and he isn’t over-enthusiastic with his words nor does he use grand adjectives to describe his surroundings. He chose to write this book in a very simplistic manner and of course loaded it with humour.
I have never ridden a two wheeler (yup, such people exist) so I can’t say that this book reminded me of my childhood. All I can say is, I enjoyed the ride the author offered through his book.
This was one of those reads that made me actually enjoy the book. So far, whatever travel journals I have read, I found them to be monotonous with the author informing about the new places he visits and blah blah but in this book, the author shares his personal encounters and also narrates some of the actual episodes. That’s like a personal garnishing which saved the book from being boring and dull.
You can FEEL my enthusiasm in my review. I only write such friendly, informal reviews when I feel happy and jolly.
MY FINAL VERDICT
An upbeat jaunty ride that fills you with mirthful laughter. Entertaining and filled with amusing moments.
If you’re looking for a light-hearted book that could literally save you from being consumed by your crestfallen self, go for this and if you love travelogues then you shouldn’t miss out on this one!
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ / ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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