Posted in Books

The Pilani Pilgrims – Seeds of the past, Reunited

The Pilani Pilgrims
The Pilani Pilgrims

At the cost of this blog being perceived a bit too Pilani schmaltzy of late, I have my own defense. But that can wait.

Here is a book that was released quite aptly on Aug 1, 2014, to coincide with the BITSians Day, as the author, L Suresh is a BITSian.
And for those who don’t know yet, I am a BITSian as well. I inhabited the BITS Pilani campus at around the same time the author did. So this should set the stage for what is about to follow.

The book has far too many anecdotes and incidents from the SOC-9’s time on campus that one shudders to think how the author even managed to string them together, let alone how he carefully ensured that the narration did not get jeopardized. On top of it, there is actually a fine story, with a heavy emotional quotient that is likely to whip the reader, when least expected.

Every single landmark (well almost) narrated in the book wistfully pushed some buttons in the far end of my memory lane, that it was hard not to actually walk along with the SOC-9, as they traced their footsteps back with a youthful joie de vivre.

Every single event narrated in the book (Oasis, Apogee, Interface, BOSM, BOCT, Quiz, Compre, etc.), evoked a certain strong feeling that a simple word like ‘nostalgia’ won’t suffice to describe the same.

Every travel (almost) stretch reminisced and experienced by SOC-9, reminded me of my many similar jaunts. The train journeys, the bus journeys, the send-offs, the platforms and many more.

Even though the characters are not directly out of my BITS life, I could find parallels to many that I knew during my time. It was almost like I was interacting with some of them.

Then the food with copious references to FPM (Fried Paneer Maggi), the desert seasons, the moods of the people and even the smell in the air – they all perfectly blended together to give me a sentimental kick.

The author may have felt the pressure to bring out as many tasty nuggets of incidents experienced during his 4 years in campus, as possible, from his memory. At least, it felt that way to me in certain places during the narration. Although he deserves full credit for remembering so many and fictionalizing them a bit to cater to the need of the story and more importantly, for managing to string them together in an absolutely coherent way, 36 hours after completing the book, when I tried to connect those incidents with the circumstances/contexts under which the SOC-9 were trying to reminisce those incidents amongst themselves during their reunion, I sort of drew a blank. The BITSian in me was not disappointed with this but as a general reader, I felt that this aspect of the book, somehow needed a bit of tightening.

I will not go into the details of the actual story as the book deserves readership.

When you read through the book, I imagine many of you will see flashes of images from your past, pass in front of you in slow motion, especially as you get to the last few pages. They are still flashing incessantly in front of me and I don’t think they are going to go away anytime soon.

L Suresh affirms his authority as a good storyteller simply through his brilliant ‘construction’ of multiple plots within the book, all of which evolve at the right pace, only to bloom together in perfect unison when it matters the most – that is the climax.

Go grab the book off the shelf now! Read it alone…

Then schedule a book digest session with your book club buddies, preferably those who went to the same college as you did and chat about all aspects of the book. I am sure you will be walking out of that meeting with only one thought in mind.

“When is our next Reunion going to be?”