Monday, October 29, 2007

Above Average

I am reading Amitabha Bagchi's Above Average these days, in between parts of Tezuka's Buddha. I didn't like Above Average the first time I tried to read it. The narration moved in time way too much for a book in this genre. But I am liking it now and have moved well beyond the first few pages.

After my previous failed attempt I had dismissed it by saying that it is a novel that only Comp Science students (or Compguys as one of the characters in the book says) at IITD who did their schooling in Delhi would understand. I missed that chance by about a 1000 ranks a few years back. But, now I feel that most IITD guys, irrespective of their departments, would identify with a good part of it. Maybe in time I would start believing that any reader could probably appreciate the 'story'.

One reason why I didn't appreciate it all that much was because I was treating it like another Five Point Someone. I didn't have time and was just speed-reading through it. Now, I do have time. And it's no FPS. There are some lines in the book that I find particularly interesting and insightful.

It's even more interesting because it's written by someone who teaches at IITD now. It took me a long time to realise that Professors are human beings too, who have a life beyond the classrooms, labs and their offices. I still tend to forget that at times. We don't have labs at my present college though.

Here are a couple of extracts that I underlined in the book (I never do that).

Unshakeable self-confidence was key to winning the battles we fought. The battle for grades and academic achievement was just one small part of the larger war, the others being the battles to appear unconcerned, in control, well rounded, cultured, self-confident. Accustomed all our lives to being lauded as exceptional, we were all scared that the true measure of ourselves, our unremarkable selves, would emerge one day.


It was Neeraj who taught me that friendship between two men can have all the ferocity of a love affair. Of the many things I was forced to realize in reflecting on the time I spent with him, perhaps the most sobering and terrifying was the understanding that the strongest and deepest bonds we form in our lives are with people who know how to hurt us in the most devastating ways.

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