Biography, travelogue and downright good story just about sums up Night Train to Varanasi from Sean Doyle, a man who is passionate about his beloved India, his family and the fine art of travel, not necessarily in that order.
He made the monumental decision to travel with his daughter Anna to the kaleidoscopic world of India, a place he lost this heart to as an impressionable young man, to encourage her to experience life in another world, a life he had once enjoyed and returned to on every possible occasion.
Anna had undergone recent trauma that had left her unsure, fragile with a huge giving heart that was very easily hurt. Once she finished high school and in that time between worlds, they set off to India for two months: two months that was to change their relationship, give them a deeper understanding of each other and age Sean considerably, as he was torn between keeping his beloved first born safe, but letting her unfurl her wings while remaining safe in a culture that is and was, as complex as it appeared.
Sean Doyle paints the tapestry that is the real India in words that are carefully sought, offering his love affair with India as the backdrop to so much. Traveling by trains did not always go as planned, neither did travelling by bus. The accommodation was reasonable, the generosity of the Indian people legendary when a fellow traveller was in need.
Their story is but a single thread in the rich tapestry being woven, as they make their way slowly along the pathway he travelled so many years before, both he and Anna learning so much, not just about each other but about life, letting go and growing up.
A bit like slow travel, Night Train to Varanasi is a work that takes time to read, to enjoy, to imagine the bustle of the streets, the pollution, the divide between rich and poor, cast restrictions, danger , the ever present traffic and deeply ingrained culture that makes up the very heartbeat that is India.
Night Train to Varanasi is a love affair, a love story for and with India; simple, complex, pure and eternally challenging.
|Publisher||Bad Apple Press|
|Distributor||Bad Apple Press|