Perceptions! They are so important. If I had read ‘Keep Off the Grass’ at any other point of time in my life I might not have appreciated it as much. It would have seemed to me like any other of those IIT or IIM books written by people from IIT or IIM leveraging the ‘mediocrity’ and praising it like almighty because mediocrity is ‘considered’ a sin at these places when they attended it. It’s funny that they pass out of these institutes and publish a book that contains nothing but stories of how crazy students can be or how crazy the system is or how it pushes people to commit suicide or how people drink, smoke, stone and waster their lives and literally do anything and everything to strip the institute of all its glory and yet this book will sell only because it is written by the guy/girl who passed out of those portals in the first place.
But then I don’t know because this book is genuinely not about the life and times of students in IIMs or about some love story in the times of cat and jee or about a bunch of three idiots who do random stuff and the smart one still aces the course.
It is about three men. I say men because they are no longer little boys. They have all spent quite a bit of their life alone deciding what to do and what not to do and have consciously taken up the choice of the pursuit of an IIM degree.
Vinod: the ex army chap who was awarded the Veer Chakra for fighting for the country at Kargil and is pleasantly comfortable with his mediocrity in class.
Sarkar: the IIT grad who is perennially stoned, hardly pays attention in class and yet can answer any damn question when cold called but gives two line answers to essay questions in OB.
Samrat: our American born confused desi and protagonist who leaves his high paying investment bank in Wall Street earned by topping at Yale for an international MBA only to discover that topping at an IIM is not that easy.
But this is not a story of how to survive a b-school without killing yourself. It is not about “what not to do at an IIM”. It is a journey of self discovery. Though not written as profoundly as Paulo Coelho, it is nearly the same. At least it meant the same to me. It gave me the same light hearted feeling or not being the only confused one and not being the only one with a million questions and no answers and believing in ‘feeling’.
It’s about the stoner topper who passes out as the 100th because in real life you can’t stay on the top if you don’t care as much.
It’s about the confused soul who leaves his millionaire path of an iBanker at Wall Street and finds contentment in selling soap to a woman whose life is all about her husband and children on the ghats of Benaras.
It’s about an ex-army man who prefers the dusty roads and crowded local trains of Mumbai to the luxuries of a country whose soil he can’t feel for.
It is about belonging somewhere, anywhere.