Friday, November 11, 2011

Resident Dormitus

Can there be a person who doesn’t know what he wants? Yes. Can he be such that he revels in not knowing? Possibly. Can there be someone who not only revels in not knowing what he wants but also tries to trivialize every good opportunity he gets, who thinks that not defining any morals for himself is a way to be unique and who tries his best to be a nuisance to strangers while trying to do as little with his life as possible? Guess so. Can this person also try to understand his situation in a philosophical manner and eventually succeed in fighting his internal demons, though the answer dawns on him after committing a near-murder? Vikas Rathi answers this question with a “Yes”, as he sculpts the character of his protagonist in as inconspicuous a manner as possible.
Achet, a young man from Jaipur who starts off on his corporate career, after a  business education, is the kind of person who never takes independent decisions. He tries to do as little work as possible (mental, physical, official, whatever) though he continues to exercise his brain enough to make innumerable trivial jokes at the expense of other people. Not particularly heartless in introspect, but selfish and cruel in action, Achet is the man who is nearly evil by virtue of not having done anything. He pushes his luck as far as it can go, until a murder pushes him back to the reality he has evaded for long.
Plot-wise, this book is just ok. It is interesting though Achet’s inactivity stagnates the book in many parts and one might just lose interest. However, the plot hook right in the beginning ensures that you will eventually return to the book, at least to find out why was there a murder at all.

The real essence of the book is in the character of Achet and the experience of seeing the world through his eyes. There will definitely be many parts of the book where Indian youth would identify with him- if you have ever taken a decision purely because that’s what everybody does, (or) if you found that you have started drinking for no reason tha the boredom fo the corporate jungle soon after you started on your career, and you know it’s bad for you, but you also don’t feel like stopping, you would relate to Achet. Of course, if you are plain lazy, you would still relate to him.

If you, like me, are none of the above- if you have taken decisions on your own (Whether right or wrong), if you generally have the courage to face your true self and shun inaction, then this book might help you understand your anti-thesis. (Often, it is most difficult to understand the other side of the coin when it might seem totally senseless from your side- that's where this book helps!)

One good thing about the style of the book is that Vikas talks quite sensibly about a good many serious topics, in a way that you don’t even realize he talked about them! The other thing is the way he ends the book (which, of course, I will not talk about!) Of course, I wouldn’t like the constant drinking and smoking pot and what not, but by now I have learnt to expect these as Indian authors’ tickets to sounding authentic and mature! Also, like Vikas himself says, one often finds the greatest insights from sources that are otherwise not to your taste. This particular insight was itself an example to that theory (Ya, I am obsessed with recursion! ;) )

There is one problem though.. Most vices have a tendency to infect you if you look too closely into them (that maybe why they are termed vices!) - primary one among them being laziness and inactivity. To some extent this books slows you down and infects you with a boredom and vagueness in your mind (which you can only remove by readng a different book or watching a movie!). However, that only proves that the book is true to its own cause.

So, do I like this book? Not greatly. But, it did offer me an alternate perspective and contributed in at least a small way to improving my understanding of people. 

Will I recommend this book? Yes. If you think you are directionless, if you don’t know where you are and don’t even think that you might ever find your life’s calling this book might prove to be the “Resident Dormitus” for u. Or if, you are sure of yourself, at least to some extent, and,
like me, you are interested in understanding people who are your opposites in life, you should. Whatever the side-effects, it at least leaves you with some insight. And for that alone, any piece of art would be commendable!

This review is a part of the " Book Reviews Program at


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