Book Review: Nautanki Diaries by Dominic Franks

ISBN 9788129150745

Genre: Travelogue

Publishers: Rupa Publications

Price: Rs. 295/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

Nautanki Diaries sits comfortably in the travelogue niche, yet in the best traditions of travel writing, it does much more than just describe the passing scenery. With candour and a quirky sense of humour, the author carries the reader on a twenty-two-day journey on a cycle from Bengaluru to New Delhi, aiming to reach in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

As a schoolboy, Dominic Franks looked up to his sports coach, Shikaari, as a mentor and inspiration. Shikaari inadvertently planted the seed of a journey that he himself had made in 1982 in his young student’s mind. Eventually, the author decides to use the same sort of ‘doodhwallah’ bicycle and names her Nautanki.

Replete with anecdotes and (un)conventional wisdom gleaned from the conversations he has along the way, Nautanki Diaries is a ‘cycling book’—one that allows the reader to share the intricacies of cycling as a sport, as meditation in motion and as a craft.

As for Nautanki—she plays her role perfectly, in true heroine style, right till her very last act.

About the Author

Dominic Franks graduated from Bangalore Medical College. His passion for sports led him to give up his career in medicine and join a premier sports channel. In September 2010, he decided to go on a cross-country bicycle journey from Bengaluru to New Delhi to witness the Commonwealth Games. It’s Not About the Cycle—winner of Best Adventure Film at the 2017 Toronto Beaches Film Festival—stars Nautanki, his bicycle, the central character of Nautanki Diaries.

Currently, he is working on producing his first documentary feature about human-animal relationships. When not working to travel, or travelling for work, Franks holes up in Bengaluru where he lives, laughs and loves.

I finished reading this book couple of days ago and I still cannot get over it! This has to be undoubtedly one of the best reads for 2018 for me so far. Quirky, funny, engrossing and intense, this book is a complete entertainer till the very end.

With my newly found love for travelogues I have been enjoying the varied definitions of a travelogue (as you might have noticed in my reviews too!) but this one, stole my heart with its simplicity. It wouldn't be wrong to say that this book has its heart at the right place. With perfect dose of emotions, thrill, excitement, fervor and of course, madness this book is an un-put-down-able read. I simply didn't want the book to end.

For me, the book connected on an altogether different emotional level as it took me back to the time when I had purchased a two wheeler with my savings and had named it Gulabo. She was my best friend. We would go on long drives together and she would always make sure to never give me any trouble. In turn I would take care of it , in the best possible manner and start the day invariably with a kiss. Nautanki reminded me of Gulabo, rather on a very funny note she seemed to be like her distant cousin.

How do you define an entertaining read? It is when you keep talking about that book to all and sundry long after you have finished the book. I will never be able to look at a milk man's bicycle and not burst out laughing thinking of Nautanki. And boy! What courage and determination to have undergone this journey. His experiences and anecdotes made me laugh, chuckle and wonder at the unknown adventures that await us in life,waiting for us to take one step in that direction

Strongly recommended for all travel lovers and all who enjoy good, entertaining light reads that promise to lift up your spirits. 

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Kalathappam - old fashioned yet one that still makes the kid in you smile!

Source: Kitchen Mishmash - Blogspot