Some years ago, a book was published that would change the way one looks at railway junctions forever.
Bishwanath Ghosh had got down at Itarsi junction to grab a cup of chai while travelling from Kanpur to Chennai. Sipping on the tea, as he heard the recorded voice announcing the arrivals and delays of the many trains that pass through the station, it struck him that while Itarsi junction connects the length and breadth of India on the rail map, almost nothing is known about Itarsi, the town.
Thus began Ghosh’s quest to tell the story of the towns behind some of the country’s biggest junctions: Itarsi, Mughal Sarai, Jhansi, Shoranur, Arakkonam and Jolarpettai places that are always a stopover and never a destination; familiar and yet unknown.
Chai, Chai, a definitive work on small-town India, went on to become an instant success and continues to draw readers with its abundant wit and charm.