If you love crime novels set along the coast of Southern California, you’ll love South on Pacific Coast Highway. Think Chandler and Hammett and the great noir films from the thirties and forties. Sultry dames and unsolved murders, bad cops and even badder criminals. A crisp but measured pace, with the desert wind for a backdrop…
Or perhaps you’d like to read about Americans incarcerated in Mexican prisons during the sixties. My fact based, crime fiction novel, The Trip Into Milky Way, captures unforgettably those wild years, from the early days, when we were just kids growing up and were still young and foolish enough to believe there was magic in this world and the great counterculture adventure waited ahead of us…
I am blessed to have an old friend who has visited India frequently and is steeped in all aspects of its culture, from ashrams to curry cooking to Hindu astrology. Mention the Kumbh Mela and, yes, he’s been there. Fifty million people in one place at one time? Thanks but no thanks, I had told him. Better you than me but I was not the least bit surprised when the subject of Rishikesh came up for Eric to say, yep, been there, done that.
The truth is, in considering some way to frame the opening of The Slow Train to Rishikesh, which mainly takes place in the sticky heat and monsoon weather of central India, I thought it would be lovely to introduce some place in the Himalayan foothills as a counterpoint, a place that would waver in the background of the novel as a symbol of inner peace and spiritual contentment. Choosing Rishikesh as that site was purely the result of a “pin the tail on the donkey” moment. Ah, that looks like a convenient place. Then I started to research and realized this was Maharishi’s old stomping grounds and the place where the Beatles first accompanied him to India. Google pictures of the place and you’ll see John and Paul and the four lads having a go at being yogis.
As always, telling a story is a learning experience for me, in this case, as with most projects, a matter of doing research online and such, but I cannot emphasize enough the input Sharan had in this process, as an idealistic young man who reads the papers and is intimately aware of the rather magical, scandalous and circus like atmosphere of his country, spiritual charlatans at every turn and a public all too ready to be swept up by such things. If you find the journey in this novel rings true for you, it’s simply because Sharan has invested the story with the almost unimaginable everyday elements that are part and parcel to life in contemporary India.
If you have already taken the ride on The Slow Train to India, we would love to hear your feedback. If not, then I would encourage you to take a look inside for free on Amazon and see if the enchantment of the old and new colliding in this story draws you in.