I’m not 24...I've been 19 for 5 years by Sachin Garg
What should I say? Or rather where should I start...!.!. Let me start by saying "Thank You!" to Sachin Garg, for breaking my BIF mode (Bad Indian Fiction read), and for reminding me of a few very nice books I've read in past.
I’m not 24 is NOT a typical love story. For that matter, even when it has ALL the elements of a typical B-school oriented book, it steers clear of all clichés and delivers a rather pleasant experience. When I started reading I’m not 24, I assumed its going to be another disaster originated in one of those IIMs... but strangely, it wasn't so. The book is great on eyes, the cover design clever and eye-catching, the font readable and the size of the book, manageable during travels. The novel catches your fancy in the first introduction itself. And you don’t even realise when you are sucked into the narrative and tangled into the storyline. (I was on page 74 when I realised I had tea on the gas which by the time I reached had turned into brown liquidy mush).
When you read "I’m not 24"; you enter into the world of the protagonist, Soumya, who BTW is a girl, not a guy. Soumya has got a job with one of the most reputed Steel Company and has been asked to report to work on a certain date. But due to her unfortunate unisex name, is assigned to a man's profile in the steel PLANT in one corner of India rather than the plush corporate office more suited for a girl. The story is about Soumya's stay and survival in the steel plant. If anyone of you have ever visited an industrial plant, you'll realise how drastic the change would be for a city raised urban girl to move into a plant and township in middle of nowhere. She is facing challenges that she's not ready for. Unknown town, unknown language, unknown work profile, unknown culture and surrounded by people who are extremely unaccustomed to seeing a female amongst them. There are major adjustments for Soumya to do in this setup. No friends, no family...no one to really TALK to... no SHOPPING.
It’s in this uncertainty that she meets and make friends with unlikely of people. A hardcore engineer with experience and an attitude problem, a fellow college-mate who is only good till he actually opens his mouth, a boss who seems too nice to be true, and a Indian hippie who looks like Hugh Grant.
Her journey through this time and place put me in a very pensive mode. It stirred a lot of memories; I recalled a lot of experiences that I really wished I had kept locked away. Its times like these that I wish I had Pensieve like Dumbledore in Harry Potter, where I could take out all such troublesome memories that are too much to handle. Sachin Garg does a fine job of presenting a fine story. His writing style has a flair that I've not seen in a while. He actually reminded me of earlier works of Chetan Bhagat. Sachin has a flow to writing that keeps you interested and intrigued in the story unfolding in front of you. There are no magic, no great climaxes and no heroes in his story and still you find yourself saying "5 more minutes, let me finish this chapter before I sleep". He is easy to read and enjoy. The storyline, the setting and events are all very believable (barring one incident with the furnace, but you've got to let it pass).
Sachin's narration has a smooth speed, and a flow that’s very pleasant. The storyline is different yet intriguing enough to hold interest throughout. After a long time, I've come across a novel that I could easily recommend to others. There are small hiccups here and there, like the above mentioned incident which is way more dramatic in a not so dramatic story; a small glitch in the story that editors should have caught and corrected (it happens when the protagonist reaches Toranagallu, its first said that they all aboard a cab and when they enter the township, the view is described as from a bus).
Obviously, there are elements in storyline and narration that one might find objectionable, like the whole philosophy behind the 3 month move-on theory, aimlessness in the protagonist and so on and so forth, but these things will invite objection only if you forget that this is supposed to be fiction and not self-help or motivational read. (And that’s only if you want to be Dhobi in the Ramayana)
So, in all, Sachin Garg's I’m not 24, is a fine read. If you have no plans for the weekend; or you are travelling a distance. Or even if you want to unwind after a day or week of stressful work.... I suggest you pick up I’m not 24. Its fun, its light and its very relaxing. Don't expect to find meaning of the world or philosophical discussion of Big Bang... and you'll do great. I hope to see more such novels from Sachin Garg in future.... "Thank you!" once again for breaking my dry spell. :)