June 13, 2005

FivePointSomeone(or Something) - Chetan Bhagat

I struggled through this novel because it was referred to me as an introduction to what life in an IIT is all about and ofcourse the subject of IIT is always interesting to me. Unfortunately I came away with a dim, dark view of what I have always considered to have been the best part of my life.

The book is a crashing bore, there is neither action, nor fun let alone anything profound and sometimes I wonder why publishers print such books and why readers buy them. I suppose publishers have to publish that is their raison d'etre.

Coming round to the book itself, the protagonists of the novel Hari, Alok and Ryan somehow managed to spend four years in IIT without finding ANYTHING of any value. The teachers are bad, the courses are bad, the food is bad .. their friends ( other than the trio that is) are bad. Everything is bad. What utter nonsense.

Unless things have changed dramatically since I left KGP (in 1985) or unless IIT-D is significantly different from the other IITs ... I am left with the impression that this book is an extremely wrong portrayal of what life is all about at IIT.

What about SpringFest ? What about Hall Days ? What about the Interhall rivalry ? Perhaps these are KGP specific stuff but I am sure that the other IITs would have something equivalent.

Perhaps the professors could have been better but they are not the demons that they have been portrayed to be ( with the exeption of Veera). There were bad profs but then there were so many good and venerable teachers as well.

Finally, the 'episode' that they have described is ludicrous. The tendency to do a bit of cheating at exams is always there .. but the monumental scheme that they mounted ( and then crashed ) to steal a question paper is insuferrable. So is the ease that our hero picks up a girlfriend (with whom he gets into bed as well ) ... I know for sure that the one thing that most IITians lack ( and miss ) is the girlfriend. At least in our days .. when we used to say that KGP is a desert and the residents of SN hall ( girls hostel) where like cactuses in the desert.

Net-Net : a desolate and inaccurate novel about IIT that sees only the thorns in a rosebush. Why did I struggle through it (even though I thought as much after the first 100 pages ) ? Well .. IIT (at least KGP ) has a special place in my heart and if someone from IIT can patiently use MS-WORD to churn out so many words, the least that I can do is to read it .. before I criticise it.


Anonymous said...

obviously things have changed a lot since 1985 :-) .
I thought the book was great and so did lots and lots of people .
Maybe you should go back to any of the IITs , i'am sure you'll be able to relate more to the book.

Anonymous said...

I guess most of these things did not changein IIT KGP till 97 (Spring Fest, Hall days, Friday movie show, Rock shows, ILU, elections, Roof tops, Booz, Harries, Vaggies and to most Cheddies). I certainly feel bad for folks who missed all the fun and spent most of their IIT yrs in cribbing about system which can be easily ignored.

Also wondering that how with 3 hrs of off class study 'Daily', someone is not making 8 point something.

As a fiction I enjoyed the book as it has bits n bites of IIT life though book is not even close to what IIT and IITians are.