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On MODIfying, Developing and Changing INDIA

There was a country, a country of spirited and adept men, finding itself in the path of recovery from the heavy blows of imperialistic pas...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

There are books that clasp your fingers, grab your senses and have your attention on its leash when you take them up in your hands; they call it the page-turners. There are some books that are heavy not so much in terms of its girth and weight but in terms of the facets it explores, in terms of the impact it leaves in a readers mind. These books are delicately subtle, profoundly beautiful, and unbelievably chimerical in terms of their form and their very make. They are like a cool breeze whose touch is felt even after they have left long ago. 

Then there are some other books that are like an evening cup of coffee, you like it when you drink but as soon as you put down the cup you don’t remember it. They are not tongue burning, neither the treat of the life, they are usual; these are what they call a good-read. And there is another kind which you and I won’t like spending time to discuss about; they usually call it waste-of-time.

And before you ask, what’s all this piece-of-wisdom on books about let me tell you that this post is about a book that I read of late. To make myself clear, this isn't exactly a review but just my thoughts on a read-worthy book, An Excursion of Insight, written by my friend, Harsh Agarwal.  Plus, more than anything I wanted to give him comments for a change (Just kidding: P).


Sonam Dorji is a simple, less endowed man from Bhutan who has his feet firm in Buddhism.  He lands in Meghalaya: with eyes full of dreams to study in college, with an obligation towards his motherland and with an innocent belief that India is what they show in Bollywood movies. He has responsibilities and he knows that better than anyone else yet he falls in love with a classmate, Sarika; a beautiful girl with whom Sonam’s chemistry works out in the chemistry lab. While their chemistry mix up in test tubes like salts with diluted acid and  warmed in Bunsen burner flames effervescing uncontrollably, Sonam is pulled into the smothering current of the academic twirl on the other hand.  The Indian Educational system that crushes spirits, sucks confidence out of student’s life leaves its trademark effect on Sonam too who is new to this rat race. He is haunted to a level that everything he held close to his heart shatters in a matter of days. What does the shaken Buddhist do, what happens to him forms the story.

About the book:

Of the three types of books I referred earlier, this book falls in the spectrum of second type of books in terms of its content and presentation.

It is beautiful when it effortlessly paint the maiden green landscape of Meghalaya. It is subtle when it exactly captures the craziness of student’s life, college years and the suicidal stress at times. It is delicate when it reflects the pristine beauty of Sarika, her every fiber, every contour like that of a mirror.  It does leave the feel even after you have closed the book.

Though the main premise has been love it is not a love story. The tapestry of themes that are handled augurs more depth and complexity to the book. Indian educational system, religion, belief, friendship, a foreigner’s view on India, suicides are few of which that are being tackled throughout.

“The shining India” bit had been exploited very well in Sonam’s early scenes. The approach of giving a realistic view on normal engineering life is appreciable without adding what they call it “spice”.


Another striking feature of the book is the characterization especially that of Sonam, the protagonist’s. Him being a Buddhist, his innocent nature and the setting he lands in gives a perfect natural conflict needed for the story. His inner struggle that whispers “Desire is the cause of suffering” every time he lifts his feet off Buddhism because of the circumstances has come out well.

Sarika’s characterization was good in terms of her detailed extraneous portrayal.Though I felt that her character arc was abrupt but that’s my impression. It could have been consciously left such so that the character doesn't turn out flat, stereotypical. Salil, Sonam's friend, character has come out well.

Having said everything personally I felt that the book could have delved bit deeper in some places to give a wholesome, more gripping feel as the themes were complicated in nature and because the style was literary. I felt the story to be consciously restricted and compressed at times. As a reader perhaps I am greedy, I always want more.

The style of writing also makes a big difference. But for the quality text, it would have been a good-read, another sparkling campus story with different ending. The style, the text and the writer’s sheer ability to spruce up words into places, persons and emotions had made all the difference. And having known Harsh for sometime this isn't a surprise. In fact there is more to him and this excursion is clearly a jolly ride he has taken. I am certain he is capable of taking it to whole another level when he means business.

Over all if you are a reader who wants your creative senses to be tickled, who cherish the beauty of writing, not entertainment and not only the adrenaline factor attached with page turners then this is a recommended read.

 To Take the Excursion: An Excursion of insight


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