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If It's Monday It Must Be Madurai: A Conducted Tour of IndiaIf It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai: A Conducted Tour of India by Srinath Perur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is not a travelogue, but it talks about travels of the author. The author undertook a series of conducted tours within and without India and the book is about these trips that author took. The author starts off about a conducted tour of temples in South India. He sticks out as a sore thumb among the old and retired people. It is a rush-rush affair to cover as many temples as possible. The goal is not to enjoy the tranquility of the temples (most temples do not have any tranquility any more) but to just get a glimpse of the idol, possibly carry out an archana (if the tour guide give sufficient time of this) and move on the next one. No time to stop and admire the architectural grandeur of these temples. It seems more like a farce.
In another tour of Europe the author says how the conducted tours are again about just seeing the places of interest and checking them off and he comments on the lack of attempt to enjoy and imbibe the local ambiance, culture and flavours. The travelers expect to be fed Indian food as per their tastes and just do not venture to try the local food.
The experiences of spending a few days at Jaisalmer fort and the experience of taking a camel ride into the deserts around Jaisalmer is described in another. The dark secrets of people get taken for a ride for steep price by the locals is also highlighted.
A ride in the backwaters of Kerala with a few tourists from different parts of the world is covered in one chapter.
In one travel story the author covers the sex tourism to Uzbekistan. He illustrates how people from different walks of life and of different age groups, from early 20s to one in his 70s travel to these destinations in the hope of get a good sex fix.
The conducted guide of Dharavi and other such places for those interested in the gray side of India is covered in another chapter.
The chapter on travel to North East is a good read as it covers some history of the locales visited by the author. This does not look like the typical guided tour where only the places of interested are visited. The group that the author goes with has a bunch of people disgruntled with what they are doing in their daily lives and which has driven them to take this break. He states at one place “Had our tour group sat down to draw up a manifesto, it might have gone something like this. We … the young urban middle class-tend to lead a rushed life working for corporates that care more for their bottom-lines than for their employees or the environment. As stressed, unfulfilled, moneyled individuals we then seek satiety in consumption, a treadmill which, besides drawing us further into the same trap, is environmentally unsustainable and has far reaching consequences. It we would only be willing to to lead a slower, simpler life, we might not have all the shiny stuff, but our work might be better aligned with our talents and dispositions, and we would have opportunity and time to introspect, explore, and lead more fulfilling lives. Everyone would then be growing according their own genius.”
In the chapter “The Same Water Everywhere” the author covers the trip he had with the society promoting music of Kabir and in “Real India” he talks about the “Shodh Yatra” which is undertaken to identify innovations in rural India every year or so.
The last chapter is that of the travel to Pandarpur which is taken up by devotees of Vitthala in Maharashtra.
If you are a the types who likes to travel you will definitely enjoy the book and will be inspired to take non-conducted tours.

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