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That’s The Life, Baby Review

That’s The Life, Baby -Priyesh Ranjan

Yes, that’s the name of the book. Yes, it’s a campus novel. But someone forgot to proof-check it. There are grammatical mistakes everywhere. But let us forget all the nuances of grammar and basic English usage that school taught us.

The story is about Abhi, a wannabe IITian who leaves his home to slog for two years at the IIT factory they call Kota. The book has a tagline called ‘An Idiot’s Love Story’. And it is pretty much that. Since the stories of all engineering, medical, management and most other campuses across the country have been captured in some novel or the other, the only thing that was left to do was to go one step further and write about preparing for those examinations. And there is nothing wrong with that, if done well. The plot follows the (supposedly) funny and unlucky adventures of Abhi and his friends, as they prepare for IIT, AIEEE and all other engineering examinations and also deal with
girl problems.

Engineers (me, for instance) will identify with some situations, but the characters are bizarre and unreal. Whims and biological fancies of the author take over the characterisation completely (Shruti, for instance) and the book is full of ‘notes’ most of which are his observations about women. Some are downright derogatory (which again is okay too!), and some are well, wastage of paper. Here is an example: “The Devil resides in men in three places – mind, heart, and the snake protruding beneath the waist.” Read the book only if you wish to collect some more. Most of such terms find usage over weekend drunken rants in hostels. After a gargantuan amount of effort that went into finishing the book, I would like to let the author know of a few things.

First, identify your target audience. You have done so. Fair enough. Then choose the language. Three percent of our population speaks English. Approximately 40 percent speaks Hindi. Elementary math suggests that you have a better chance in the latter set. And going by the flow of language and style in the book (literal translation into English from Hindi phrases), you would be better off coming up with a Hindi novel. Or if you have a good story to tell, get a good writer to help you write it.

Reading this book is an exercise in itself, which are the characteristics of an Ayn Rand, or a Noam Chomsky title. Not a campus novel. A ‘Chalega’ just for the effort. And nothing more.

-Saurabh Datar

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