This has been described as an Indian Trainspotting but the only similarities is its theme of drug taking and some musings on the concept of choice. The book consists of stories of the characters that haunt Rashid’s opium den in Bombay. Most of the time it is interesting and there are some excellent passages, but overall it is patchy and the last part of the book is a bit incoherent and lost my interest. Some great descripions of Bombay in transition.67/100
Next morning we had an early train to Diu. Almost missed it though as we were waiting on the wrong platform and almost ended up in Rajkot instead. Nice trip through national park where we saw a herd of deer before arriving in Una where we waited ages for a bus. Finally made it to Diu and arrived at our hotel on Nagoa beach, the Radhika beach resort which was excellent. Went for a walk to the west facing beach past the mysterious Rukda tree, which is famous because it is, well, big, and watched a beautiful sunset over the Arabian Sea. On the way back checked out Nagoa Beach which has DIU in big letters on the headland. Tried one beachfront restaurant that only had snacks left and charged 50 rupees vomiting fee! Had a really nice dinner instead at the Richie Rich restaurant.
Next day was a designated lazy day, starting with a late breakfast in the nice hotel courtyard, then reading by the swimming pool. Eventually wandered around to the beach for rotis and curry at a dhaba then walked to the end of the beach and back and then had a nice dinner at the Tarang restaurant in the flashy resort next door. Watched the sunset with cows and goats crossing the beach to the village.
Following morning headed off into Diu town starting at the dockyards with all the colourful fishing boats. Went past a colourful market and explored the massive Portuguese fort with its thick walls and cannons before having lunch at Aparna Foodland restaurant on the waterfront. Walked away from the water into the old Portuguese town with its narrow streets, colourfully painted houses and old churches. Had famous creaming soda and ice creams at Raj’s, bought some rum for smuggling into Gujarat got some money then back to the beach for a sunset swim. Dinner at our hotel which was pretty ordinary but the beer was nice and cold. All in all Diu is a nice relaxed place and should be more popular than it is.
Superbly written, almost “fictionalized” account of life in the Annawadi slum of Mumbai. Certainly the guts of the people that battle through here can be uplifting, but at the same time the future looks pretty bleak, and I didn’t get any feeling of optimism at the end. What is also sad is that the residents spend more time in trivial and ultimately disastrous squabbles and jealousies (well they are humans!) than perhaps trying to organize and lobby and work together to try and progress their community. Indian governments and the well off really need to read books like this. 80/100