Price-Rs:95/-(You will get 20% discount if you are lucky.I bought all his 4 books together and got the discount).
At the outset, let me make it clear that neither am I a voracious reader nor a literary critic to attempt a book review, that too on one of India’s best sellers. And I don’t have sufficient language skills required for a critic. But the down to earth theme and narrating style prompts me to !
The novel revolves around three young friends Govind, Ishaan and Omi living in Belrampur, Ahmedabad, Gujrat, the state of businessmen.. Reading the book was a real big experience, so to say. Very lively , characters from middle class families. I was all for Govind until his second mistake, which I found difficult to digest, may be because I am a girl’s mother! Even his suicide attempt could not win my sympathy! Forgetting the dislikes let me bring out the likes.
1.The simple language- It definitely is written in the language of the masses without using high handed jargons. It makes you feel that the characters are living in your immediate neighborhood and you know them all.
2.Depth of friendship- I am all for the strong bond of true friendships where one emotionally supports, corrects and extends all sorts of help as and when required without being sought by her/his friend. The book shows you the beauty of friendship and the emotional trauma through which one goes at the point of breaking up.
3.Positive energy-It shows how an ordinary Indian can achieve his goals by simply using available resources in and around his/her place. Govind planned his business observing that cricket and badminton are the popular games in Belrampur. Moreover, Ishan was the top cricketer during his school days and G counted on utilizing his skills by starting training sessions for students. The sports goods shop amassed profit as he planned.
4.Intricacies of relationships-between dad-son(Ishaan and his dad), uncle- nephew(Omi and his uncle ) ,friend’s sister transforming to girl friend, friends turning foes ,the intimacy developed between Ishaan and the little boy Ali etc etc. The efforts, the trio put in under the leadership of Ish to rescue Ali from hindu fanaticism consequent to Godra incident was terrific. The riot stricken Ahmedabad was horrifying to read.
5.Vision –It gives what India is now and what India should be.
I liked Govind most ,because of his clear-cut ambition and the flawless planned efforts to achieve the same. He is a perfect professional who does not mix up profession with sentiments. I have noticed the absence of this professionalism among us . We are adepts at spicing each and everything with sentiments even in pure official matters at workplace, of course, according to me. Things have changed a lot, I admit, among the newer generation.
Ishaan, Omi ,Ali, his dad, all are real life characters. Vidya , Omi’s sister is representative of the typical new age fearless Indian girls. But the doubt of illicit pregnancy scares her too! But I love Vidya inspite of her impulsive behaviour!
More quotes from the book ,in case anybody wishes to read further.
Listen to what the agnostic Govind, who tells the story-
“I was never good with emotional stuff.I love maths, I love logic and those subjects have no place for emotion”
“My love for business began when I first started tuitions. It was amazing to see money build up. With money came not only things like coolers and sofas but also the most important stuff-respect. Shopkeepers no longer avoided us, relatives re-invented us to weddings and our landlord’s visit did not throw us into turmoil. And then there was the thrill-I was making money, not earning it under some boss or getting a handout.”
“I don’t want to be an Engineer, mom. My heart is in business”.
“I hate a display of emotion more than emotion itself”
“people called me Mr. Accounts, greedy, miser, anything”
“I am no Mr. Nice and I hate people who are not focused.”
“if Ish’s passion was cricket and my passion was business, was Omi’s passion religion? or may be like most people he was confused and trying to find his passion. And unlike us, who never took him seriously, Parekh-Ji gave him a sense of purpose and importance.”
Ali’s dad, on Hindu Muslim fights (The words which haunt me always)
“Male chimpanzees of the same pack fight violently with each other-for food, females, whatever. However after the fight, they go through a strange ritual. They kiss each other on the lips. The point is, this ritual was created by nature. To make sure the fight gets resolved and the pack stays together. In fact any long-term relationship requires this”
“Yes, take any husband and wife. They will fight, and hurt each other emotionally. However later they will make up, with hugs, presents or kind understanding words. These reconciliatory mechanisms are essential. The problem in Hindu-Muslim rivalry is not that that one is right and the other is wrong. It is that there are no reconciliatory mechanisms.”
Ish-“The young generation in India from the 60’s to the 80’s is the worst India ever had.These 30 years are an embarrassment for India...My point is, that the clueless sixties to eighties generation is now old, and running the country”.
The discussion among the 3 friends really throws insight into the present state of affairs of our country.
Omi & Govind-(at Australia where the trio took Ali for training cricket at their own initiative)
Omi-“There is an unspoken rule among Indian men and you broke it........You don’t hit upon your best friend’s sister. You just don’t. It’s against protocol.”
G-“protocol? What’s this, the army? And I didn’t hit on her. She hit upon me”
O-“But you let her hit upon you. You let her”
G-“well, it wasn’t exactly like being hit. It didn’t hurt. It felt good”(But I never felt good- I was thinking of Vidya's fiture and the plight of her innocent parents)
Australian cricketer Fred who is training Ali-“ If I don’t break their ( cricket practicing kids) pride, they will stay hoons for the rest of their life. Sportsmen aren’t movie stars, mate. Even though your country treats them like that!”
Little Ali on being asked to be an Aussie(Australian citizen) for better coaching and facilities-“It’s ok, if I don’t become a player, but it’s not ok if I’m not an Indian” ( I hugged Ali and kissed him on his forehead!)
“Don’t get so sentimental about politics. Emotional speeches are fine, but in your mind always think straight” Parek-Ji’s lecture to Bittoo mama, Omi’s uncle.
“Who you are, what do you want verse what people expect of you. And how to keep what you want without pissing off people too much.Life is an optimization problem, with tons of variables and constraints.” G to Vidya during a tuition class
Vidya to Govind at ATHIRA campus lawn-“why, why is it so unfair? Why do only I have to deal with this? why can’t you get pregnant at the same time?”
the P-word which freaks men out-Pregnancy
the A word- abortion ...
And stopping for the time being or else I”ll copy the whole book! It has become too long. But you always have the freedom to skip, don’t you?