Sunday, November 24, 2013

Books: Italian Ways

The title is brilliant as it conveys two aspects of the book written by Tim Parks. It tells us how the Italian railways run by Trenitalia operates and also how the Italian psyche can be seen from this angle. Hence the name chosen for the novel has duality associated with it. Tim Parks has lived in Italy for a great part of his life. He was not born an Italian but he is Italian now after adopted the country as his home. Given his writing style, he is the right person to educate us about the Italian ways. 

If you live in Europe, public transport plays an important part in your daily life. In the category of public transports, the trains are a major player - be it traveling inside the city or to adjoining cities or even to far flung places. Tim Parks details this important utility in life from the point of view of a frequent traveler. He has spent a considerable amount of his life in trains. But how does this all work? Is anyone making profit out of this enterprise? How are the fares structured if a virtual break-journey can take you to point A to point B in lesser price than taking a direct ticket? Why does ticket inspectors act authoritatively and then turn a blind eye to people traveling without a valid ticket? How is it that you end up with no seat even when you have a reservation? Why does train stations resemble a shopping mall after renovation? Why do you have to travel endlessly before you can get to platform serving inter-city service from a intra-city service?

Tim Parks provide a lot of insights with respect to Italian railways. Like I mentioned earlier, if you live in Europe, these questions might have crossed your mind. The best part is the answers to these questions. Some of the answers might have been obvious ones which we have overlooked. What makes these answers more interesting is the commonality of this with other countries where trains play a major role. In the developing countries, this will soon catch up.

I have a lot of Italian friends. That is one of the reasons to pick this book up. It ended up a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you do not have Italian friends, you can still pick it up if you love trains or train journeys.

Tags: Books,Tim Parks,Trenitalia,Italy



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