An American writer and a publisher, John, is travelling to Varanasi on a train. He meets a rather interesting man, Yogesh, who is a yogi and who teaches meditation in Rishikesh, on this train journey. After a brief introduction, Yogesh alias Yogi offers to tell a storyline of his book and John readily agrees. The story is about three friends, living in Mumbai: Krish, Tony and Asif.
Krish is a married man with two children. The name of his wife is Meera. He is an entrepreneur having his own software company called Rover Soft. Tony is a high school dropout, vodka crazy, and a womaniser. Asif is a music lover and sells Afghani carpets but he doesn’t make a lot of money from it.
The three friends plan to go to Goa. While they are on a plane to Goa, Tony gets his seat next to a lady, Lela, who is a Tarot Reader. She predicts that the lives of the three friends are going to change significantly after their Goa trip.
So, this book talks about the story that Yogi is narrating to John while they are travelling to Varanasi on the train. Further, it elaborates upon what happens during the trip to Goa and more importantly, what happens after that trip. Does the prediction made by the tarot reader come to be true?
There is lot of adventure in the story and it takes us to quite a few places. We get to go to Tibet in search of a Buddhist monk and, quite unexpectedly, to Afghanistan as well. The story talks about the collective journey of the three friends along with their individual spiritual journeys.
The theme of this book and the story is spirituality. Also, while Yogi narrates his story to John, we get to read about their conversations. They converse about the various aspects of Indian culture and history.
I liked reading ‘Mystery of the Urban Monks’ by Vikram Singh as this book is a quick and breezy read. Its language is simple and it keeps you engaged. It connects with you and keeps you engrossed. I read this book in a single sitting. It has 142 pages and the story is so engaging that you do not realise that you are getting through so many pages.
I feel the reason why this book seems like a light read is because it has been told through a story of three friends and because of that it does not sound preachy. It conveys the message that it wants to convey but it does so in a manner that gives the impression of being light-hearted.
Although the title of this story is the mystery of the urban monks, the mystery element in this book is not sky-high like that of a murder mystery. However, the mystery element in this book is enough to keep you interested and you want to know what’s going to happen next. But, at the same time, just because the title has mystery it does not really make it a suspense thriller. This book leans more towards spirituality.
Of the three friends Krish, Asif, and Tony, Krish was the most sorted character because he had so much of his life together. It was Tony’s story that was the most interesting for me to read. As a reader, Krish was definitely the most relatable character for me personally because I related to him to a certain degree and I also know quite a few people who are like him in terms of their ambitions of achieving material success. Asif’s story was interesting as well but I feel that he has been left on the periphery story in comparison to the other two characters.
Apart from the main story, the conversations that take place between Yogi and John are also quite interesting to read. I particularly liked a discussion that they have about astrology. The language of this book is very simple and lucid which is why this book is a breezy read.
There are some editing mistakes which are mostly typographical errors as they are mostly spelling mistakes. So, if they can be fixed in future editions that will be great for the book. One thing that I have to mention about this book is that this book is not over descriptive, which is quite a god thing.
I felt that the book could have added more details to the individual stories, especially to the stories of Tony and of Asif. I felt that there were portions in their stories where things felt a bit rushed and hurried.
It’s not a bad thing if a book is a quick read and if it’s able to deliver its message, but at the same time there are some books that definitely have the scope for being more elaborate; this is definitely one of those books
So, even though I felt this book could have been a bit more detailed, I still had a good experience reading it. Overall, I did not have to strain my mind too much and I still understood what the story was trying to tell me.
The writer is Assistant Professor at S.P. College, Srinagar