Tuesday, December 2, 2014

And We Remained (Book Review)

And We RemainedAnd We Remained by Asad Ali Junaid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And We Remained... - an apt title with a cover that summarizes the entire book, but not until you read all of it do you actually realize how each word is a snapshot taken strategically from the book and placed on the cover. The seamless transition from one phase to another is remarkable and I found it very innovative. Moreover, it keeps the reader asking for more.

What I also liked was the effective infusion of 'gyaan' about the technological development that took place in the 1990s within the story. The progression from the email era to Facebook and LinkedIn was something that I could connect with. There were many instances where I could connect with the story. Even the songs mentioned in the book made me smile.

What seems like another tale of college life and its reminiscence in the beginning turns out to be much more than it, mostly because of the way the author has brought everything together. The reader delves into the lives of the characters thanks to the characters being made to speak their side of the story, albeit one by one. I don't know if I enjoyed this book particularly because of the age-group that the characters seem to be in initially or if it was their placement at crossroads of life where I find myself and my friends to be at this point of time.

I would especially like to thank the author for the realistic portrayal of life, right from the engineering semesters to the family saga that ensues as a result. It made me laugh, made me think, made me look back at my own college life till now. How can I miss mentioning the *dappankoothu*?

A thorough entertainer, it transports the reader to his/her college days where friendships were thicker than blood and life-changing decisions were always made after group discussions that could put any philosopher to shame! Sahir Hassan's shift from Electrical Engineering to Philosophy and the resulting lines by Anand Nair were fodder for the Indian brain, which I would like to quote here-

" Isn't every decision we make in our lifetime an experiment, with life itself being the biggest experiment of all?

the first time I came to know about Sahir's wish was a few months after our graduation from ECVU. Those were troublesome times for me. Most of that conflict and turmoil had their roots in the perceptions of 'gainful' employment. Let me explain what I meant by this 'gainful' and how these perceptions came about.

The South Indian upper castes were jolted out of their safe and easy existence after Indian independence. This meant they had to fall back on other sure- shot formulas for economic sustenance, namely, knowledge-based professions.

Amongst all knowledge- based professions, engineering and medicine became the new "priesthood." Practitioners of these were considered elite, and became the new kind of Brahmins.

But in the new scenario of independent India, this new priesthood was something that anyone with resources could aspire to and achieve. As a result, it was soon embraced by the general Indian middle class and, to some extent, lost its primarily casteist and communal sheen.

So where is the common thread in all these ramblings?

Well, it is in the new priesthood and the wisdom of it that Sahir has dared to challenge. Not directly, but it is implicit in his decision to pursue Philosophy."

In the beginning, many words in CAPS kept jumping at me and I got a bit annoyed but few pages later, either it decreased or my focus shifted to the story more than the printed words.
On a lighter note, it served as a window into the lives of guys and how crazy they can be! ;) Oh and it's an eye-opener for girls as well.

Note to all girls: The Facebook post that went viral a few years ago is true about guys. Subtle hints don't work with guys. Strong hints don't work either. Tell them what you have been wanting to. Otherwise there are high chances that your hint would go unnoticed and you would only have yourself to blame for it!

P.S. The inspirational people behind this story, please take a bow! :)

-Divya Nambiar

Author: Asad Ali Junaid

View all my reviews

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