2625, Kerala Express from Kottayam to New Delhi, used to carry not only my bag full of cut-mango pickles, dry coconut chutney and banana chips, but also a lot of dreams. For any young man or woman, the period immediately after graduation is an important stage in life. Realization that one should come out of the comfort zone and try to secure a meaningful career disturbs the entire routine. On the one side the urge to enjoy life without taking any responsibility, and on the other side the sudden awareness about the need for getting into a role that would give sufficient social recognition and livelihood. At the same time one is also disturbed by the high expectations from the parents and relatives and hundreds of suggestions, benchmarks, advice, warnings, and reprimands showered liberally by all and sundry. The youth is really confused and agitated and sometimes loses his morale and creativity.
Following words were neatly scribbled on a yellow sheet on the wall in front of the study table in the Room No. 123 E, Brahmaputra Hostel, JNU.
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
‘Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes,
the swing in your gait,
The grip in your hand,
the irresistible surge of will,
and the energy to execute your ideas’ (HenryFord).
Those words on the wall of my room used to inspire me during my times of loneliness and anxiety, and propel me forward to achieve my dreams. Getting into the top echelons of Indian Civil Services was one of them. For many young persons, the inspiration would come from far away parents through their long-distance calls or from their friends and relatives. Cracking one of the toughest examinations of the country require much more than hard work and perseverance. One needs to be sufficiently motivated.
Dancing with Maharaja
Above memories and thoughts vividly reappeared within me while I got to read ‘Dancing With Maharaja’, an exciting fiction written by Sundar. The book is a story of a young man from a small town in Southern India who was forced to undertake a journey to a much disliked destination. He was forced to pursue his businessman father’s dream to make his son an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
His father, a rich liquor shop owner wanted his son to be respected, be on the front pages of newspapers and television, have control over many people, have a lot of power and succeed in life. For all these ambitions, he found only one way: Make him an IAS officer. But the son was a lazy, naughty, aggressive, undisciplined, and disobedient student all throughout his school and college days. He never liked to be in the Civil Services. He enjoyed the company of his school dropout friends with bottles of Kalyani beer, scrambled eggs, lots of cigarettes and wild thoughts. Satish, the young man struggled amidst conflicting aspirations, and took the train to New Delhi to satisfy his father, though he himself was not convinced a bit about his mission.
Satish disliked the life in and around Old Rajinder Nagar, ‘the mecca of IAS preparation’ where thousands of ‘mad’ civil service aspirants flocked, slogged and discussed about everything under the sun. Entire life of those young men and women were centred around Civil Services Chronicle, Yojana, Coaching Centres, Dholpur House, and book stalls that carry tons of materials to satisfy their hunger for current affairs. He didn’t want to shed his rustic personality and throw his own unique dreams and aspirations for the stupid and crazy UPSC examinations. He continued to live like the son of a liquor shop owner from Madurai, who is more interested in settling the street disputes. His blood boiled seeing injustice around. And he was convinced that to help others in their dire needs, one need not possess a position in the Civil Services.
But his father continued to send letters to him:
‘ Try to be at least one per cent sincere with your preparation, I will be happy’.
‘ My dear Satish, best of luck. I am really proud to be your father. Love, father’.
And Satish, a student with a below average performance all throughout, dreamt to own and manage a one-of-its-kind high class bar-cum-discotheque in Madurai city. The author continues his story creating excitements all along as he introduces many characters and their lifestyles.
The book very simplistically unravels the sociology of a youth from a semi-urban background, his aspirations, and experiments in life. Entire novel is spiced up with unadulterated humour linked to real life incidents the readers could easily link. This can be a motivational sourcebook for any person who aspire success against all odds. I am sure, all readers, especially the youth would not close the book till they reach the last page. And all civil services aspirants should necessarily read this book to derive the much needed inspiration as they prepare themselves to be the leaders of the society.
Author, Shri Sundar has done his Engineering degree and MBA and currently in the Indian Revenue Service. The book is published by Srishti Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi. The book is priced at just Rs 100 so that anyone can afford. (So students, please use your pocket money!). Book is also available online at Flipcart.
Sibichen K Mathew
See below a few other book reviews by Sibichen K Mathew