I picked up Rishad Saam Mehta’s Hot Tea Across India after seeing loads of recommendations for it all across blog-world. The book seemed to be centred around travel to different places all over the length and breadth of India – and the experience of having tea in all these places. Being an ardent lover of both of these things, I picked up this book and dived into it with great expectations. Overall, I enjoyed the book, while I did have a few grouses with it too, and parts that left me feeling dissatisfied.
Rishad Saam Mehta is a travel writer – one of those lucky few who get a chance to work at what they love doing. The author has worked for travel and automobile magazines, which have sponsored his extensive travels all over India. This book is a sort of memoir – a collection of anecdotes from Rishad’s travels, which are indeed fun to read about. Some of the episodes are extremely well written, and made me want to long to visit these places. Some travel encounters that the author writes about are hilarious, and had me laughing out loud.
Sadly, though, the book does not live up to its title. The subject of tea has been relegated to a couple of lines in most of the chapters, and not even that in some others. The tea lover in me, who was looking forward to read lip-smacking details about the different kinds of tea preparations in different parts of India, was disappointed.
Another grouse of mine was that the narrative gets way too random at times. The book seems to be a collection of friendly ramblings about the author’s travels, rather than part of a ‘book’, if you get what I mean. I would have liked for the travel tales to have been a bit more structured, a bit more in depth, and a bit less random. While the light-hearted tone of the book is fun, it gets way too much at places, and I wish that had been changed.
I would have loved to see photographs in the book, at least of some of the places that Rishad visits. I am sure that would have added to the charm of the book. I loved the book cover, though. I felt it is a wonderful representation of all the subjects that the author has written about in the book.
All in all, I would say I liked the book, but couldn’t exactly fall in love with it. I was not charmed by it, the way I have been by a number of travel books I have read.
Have you read this book? What are your feelings about it?