#RPBP #99c To Be Frank it's, "Relentlessly honest, refreshingly uncontrived, this diary really works." (The Sunday Tribune)
A Taste Of India!
Here's what reviewers say:
"India, at low-budget tourist level, is buffeting and bullying. But over
four months travelling, Frank Kusy remains indefatigably and irrepressibly
jocular." (The Mail on Sunday)
"Easy to read, interesting and funny, you feel you are there with
Frank and Kevin, cooped up in trains, starving for days and then
going on massive binges, going thirsty and then drinking coffee, only
to find that it’s been sweetened with baboon’s milk." (The Surrey Mercury)
"This is great travel-writing. Melts the plain vanilla past the evaporation point." (Greg Levin, author, Notes on an Orange Burial)
KEVIN AND I IN INDIA
When Frank and Kevin first met in an empty Arab airport lounge on their way to India in January 1985, it was the beginning of a friendship which would take them together across the length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent, ending up in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal.
'Kevin and I in India' is the unexpurgated, often outrageous, diary of their travels – from the hill-stations of the deep south to the Taj Mahal in the north, from the Goan beaches of the west to the sacred Ganges and the Bodhi Tree in the east. Full of anecdotes, observations and travellers’ tales, the two Englishmen weave a crazy, erratic path through a variety of adventures and misadventures, in constant battle against officialdom, insects, heat, dust, ticket-queues and mad traffic.
Here is the real India – stripped of illusion, but adorned with humour and exuberance. Here is a kaleidoscopic potpourri of fascinating sights, scenes and people, with each day of the journey more exciting, more packed with incident, than the last.
People often ask me how I came to start writing my memoirs. Well, this is how it all started...
The idea for Rupee Millionaires came to me just as I was about to become one.
I was sitting at the foot of a cockroach-infested sink in a third-class rail compartment in India, and chanting with one thought: ‘I came to India to check out Buddhism and ended up making lots of money instead. What’s that all about?’
Along with that thought came another. ‘I’ve got eight years of diaries and tape transcripts spanning the whole period of the yuppie ‘90s – a time capsule of when “Greed was Good”, if you like. Surely there must be a book in there somewhere?’
Rupees has gone through several incarnations over the course of twenty long years. It started out as a first person diary – ditched when a professional scriptwriter said ‘I learnt more about you in a 30-second phone conversation, Frank, than I did from reading the whole of your book.’ Then it went up on Authonomy (the Harper Collins website for aspiring writers) as a third person novel. That worked out better…until I started getting comments that it was too “real” to be fiction. Finally, about two years ago, I plucked up my courage and posted it on Amazon Kindle as a first person ‘warts and all’ memoir. To my great surprise, that worked best of all.
Memoirs are tricky things though. Especially when half the characters in them are frauds, villains or drug dealers. Best case scenario: none of them get to read it – they’re either dead or banged up for life. Worst case scenario: they all get to read it and they’re queueing up to put contracts out on you. But I don’t care. When the truth is stranger (and funnier) than fiction, you’ve got to print the truth, haven’t you?
I just finished reading this excellent book - honest, whimsical, funny, sad and poignant by turns, it's my pick of the week and 5 star recommended.
Here's my review:
Torn from his cosy well-to-do life as a (very) young company director in Burton on Trent, with its all-pervading smell of roasted hops from the breweries, Private Edward Searancke (the author’s father) is dumped from the back of a removals van into a far less cosy life in the British army. There’s a war on, Hitler is at the gate, and Edward is determined to do his duty – even if it means endless square bashing (torture to his fallen arches), separation from his new bride Elizabeth, and nowhere to park his golf clubs. Yet it is through a combination of golf and grit that he rises rapidly up through the ranks to become a captain, one of the brave many who stormed the beaches at Normandy in 1944.
The skill of this marvellous book is the combination of real-life letters, written to and from ‘Eddie’ and Elizabeth, and straight ‘imagined’ narrative as meticulously crafted by their son, John (aka “JE”). The frustration of the two lovers, as Eddie is shunted from pillar to post, from the Isle of Man to St Albans, from Ireland to Kent, and finally to France is brilliantly evoked: what marriage could have had a harder start, when every time they try to meet, a last minute extra duty or a politically important game of golf (I laughed at this, Elizabeth didn’t!) manages to keep them apart. I scanned the letters a few times to work out how they managed to conceive young John!
I also scratched my head over where the Prunes for Breakfast of the title might be – halfway through the book and not a prune in sight – but then Eddie gets captured by the Nazis and banged up in a POW holding camp for officers. What’s for breakfast? Oh yes, it’s prunes, and Eddie becomes a very regular soldier indeed. How glad, however, he is to exchange this meagre repast for steak and chips upon his release by the Yanks – he hasn’t seen a chip in years!
At times hilarious, at others a stern reminder of how Britain kept the great in Great Britain, this is not just the story of how an ordinary man performed extraordinary things in times of war. It is a paean to the virtues of hope, courage and the love of two people whose pens were mightier than the sword. Kudos, John, for interpreting their love and penmanship so beautifully – this is a wonderful read.
Get your copy here
If you’re reading this blog, it’s a pretty safe bet that you already know a bit about me. I’m the slightly loopy Buddhist cat lover who (mainly) indulges in travel memoirs. I’ve got four out now, working on a fifth, and then I’ll run out of life experience and have to start writing fiction. My main loves in life are my German wife Andrea, who has inspired so much of my work, and my pussy muse Sparky, who has inspired the rest. I am blessed.