Book Review: ‘Above Average’ by Amitabha Bagchiby Seema Khinnavar on Sep 29, 2012 • 1:30 PM 1 Comment
Seemingly honest and unwittingly humorous, Amitabha Bagchi’s ‘Above Average’ is a story about a young lad as he makes his way up the academic ladder, graduating from the naiveness of his school days to learning important life lessons at IIT Delhi.
Arindham Chatterjee, an adolescent from East Delhi’s middle-class locality is one of the many students who do not know what they want to do in life. Like all other bright ‘Science’ students of his age, he also decides to enrol himself at IIT Delhi. It is here where he realises his passion for drumming, his unrequited love for Aparna and the true meaning of friendship. Rubbing shoulders with some of the brightest talents of the country, he manages to hold his own in the competition with an ‘above average’ seven point cumulative grade.
He experiences a plethora of emotions in the four years at IIT Delhi. He spends jovial days with Bagga, Bobby, Bhats, Pratap and Jatty Jat, and there are times when he shares some self-depreciating moments with Kartik. There are also other times when he learns to accept the realities of life. His friendship with Meena makes him understand the intensity of the deep rooted reservation system in India. His encounter with Pandit, a gifted musician trapped in the wrong place, reflects the bitter truth that ‘in India if you try to do what you want to, you get fucked.’ Coming to terms with jealousy, betrayal and hurt, Arindham hardly puts up a fight even when his friend Mandeep (Rocksurd) spitefully destroys his first chance of playing the drums with a band on stage. He does not protest even when the love of his life, Aparna, leaves him for another man. He makes many friends at IIT, but he shares a special relationship with Neeraj, a relationship which makes him realise that ‘the friendship between two men can have the ferocity of a love affair’; it makes him understand that ‘the strongest and the deepest bonds we form in our lives are with people who know how to hurt us in the most devastating ways’.
Narrated in a direct desi language ‘Above Average’ is more like a collection of memorable diary entries which reveal the undervalued yet strong character of Arindham. Not unlike the regular IIT stories, Amitabh Bagchi also manages to entertain you with his simple descriptions of the familiar situations and sentiments which are a part of every student’s life.
Overall Rating: 7/10
If you find the book interesting, buy from Amazon or Flipkart here:
Seema dreams of working as a full-time journalist. She believes that the stories which she writes will help bring about a positive change to the world. A voracious reader, she is also equally interested in photography, cooking, travelling, tennis and basketball; not in any order though.