From being a voracious devourer of books, I’ve become a voracious hoarder of books. I keep adding to my book collection, hoping I’ll get some time to read all the books that I want to read. But I’ve been so busy with various other things that my TBR keeps getting alarmingly higher and I’ve had to stop accepting review requests. But when Siddharth Tripathi asked me if I would like to review his new book, I couldn’t say no. His debut book, The Virgins, was a great read, and the premise of his latest book – Blowfish – sounded too promising to pass up.
From the back cover:
Mukund and Chaddha spend their days comfortably ensconced in their cushy jobs, wallowing in regrets that make for good conversation. Mukund, in a fit of bravado. resigns to pursue his “calling”; the only hitch is that he doesn’t know what it is yet! Chaddha is fired and seeks solace in shooting pigeons at point-blank range.
Mukund’s life spirals out of control when Colonel Harpal Singh, the housing society secretary, finds in him a reflection of his estranged son. Harpal places Mukund under “house arrest”, puts him on trial in a kangaroo court and coerces him to fight a ludicrous duel.
Constantly under threat and running out of time and money, Mukund is about to go back to being a man with bad dandruff, a small car and even smaller dreams, when he meets Suman, a girl who, like him, is trying to figure out what life is all about.
Blowfish is a fast, funny and irreverent take on the overhyped pursuit of passion in a country where flashy cars and posh bungalows remain the only lasting symbols of success and happiness.
From the very first page, Tripathi’s book reels you in and doesn’t let you go. Partly because for working professionals, the premise is just so relatable.
“I noticed a mule perched on the road divider near Paras Hospital. It stood still, chewing cud happily with its eyes half-shut, oblivious of the chaotic world around him – a stoic rebel among the honking cars and garish billboards. The divider was like the edge of the world and the mule seemed to be standing outside looking in, aware but detached, not thinking of anything, not trying to get somewhere. I felt a strong urge to get out of my car; I wanted to graze free, to stand atop a pile of garbage and chew cud.”
Anyone in a corporate job can immediately relate to the frustration in these lines. The desire, on some days, to just quit the rat race and do something meaningful is so palpable that if better sense didn’t prevail, a lot of us would have said I am Mukund, too! Especially when, a couple of years ago, it seemed that everywhere you looked, there were people quitting their job to follow their passion.
The other reason I personally enjoyed the book is because it is set in Gurgaon, the city that I have called home since a while now. I could immediately map out the routes and the places in my head, which made it seem that much more relatable.
When it comes to the main cast of characters, they’re pretty well created. Mukund is a typical middle manager, bumbling his way through work and life. He has no major ambition; no interests beyond drinking and smoking; all he knows is that he can’t do the 9-to-5 anymore. Chaddha is mercurial; fixated on finding a girlfriend but lacking the courage to speak to a woman; with the bravado typical of Punjabis, which makes them believe they can bluster their way though most situations. And there is Sudipto, whose sole aim in life seems to be escaping from his pregnant wife for a few hours so he can smoke up and drink some beer. Tripathi has woven together the lives and stories and mad capers of these three friends really well. The dialogues flow well and the plot line is taunt and engaging.
I found myself rolling my eyes at some of their antics, and felt like shaking Mukund up from his pipe dreams, which speaks to just how engaging this book is. If you’re looking for a fun, faced-paced read, pick this up. You won’t regret it!