21 February, 2012

Down the Road by Ahmed Faiyaz

An exciting and eclectic collection of short stories that brings out all those memories – unforgettable, warm, thrilling, and at times embarrassing – of life in school and college campuses. From hesitant first crushes and relationships to the angst and heartache of wanting to fit in but trying to look like it doesn’t matter, and from the excited anticipation of midnight “Maggi parties” to campus ragging and the struggles and insecurities of a fresh graduate trying to find his calling in life – these stories cover situations and instances familiar to anyone from their school and college days.  Written by well-known authors and bloggers as well as first time writers – some of whom are still living life on campuses around the country – the characters are brought to life with a rich, vivid detail and sensitivity.  A first time teacher faced with a formidable task of teaching a group of teenage bullies; the soft beneath the surface canteen owner; a roommate who self - destructs; pranks that go too far; bullies in class taking on a dreaded professor; a spunky fresher out to live life on her own terms; interns realizing that learning from a book is a far cry from applying knowledge in the real world; a street-smart final year student who gets the placement decisions she wants by using “soft” skills; close friends separated by the conflict of caste and campus politics, and unorthodox teachers with a knack for seeing potential in the most unlikely places – all these plus a handful of stories about rare and unusual campus events and three invited essays on the influence of college life on urban culture round out this anthology from the publishers of the acclaimed Urban Shots and Another Chance.
~~~ (Summary from Goodreads) ~~~

Here’s the thing – I am yet to meet a person, girl or boy, young or old, who doesn’t like to reminisce about their school and college days. Even the fresh graduates seem to realize that the days that just passed by are never going to come back and the life they have just lived is going to be the best part of their entire existence. We love to think back over to the times we were so carefree, daring, fun-loving and a tad bit irresponsible.

This book, “Down the Road”, will help you remember those memories even more fondly. A collection of twenty eight short stories by sixteen authors, revolving around the student phase of a person’s life that takes you right back to those golden days. It was really impossible to read the stories and not relate to them. I kept on thinking back and realizing that there was a boy/girl my class at some point of time who was a direct reflection of the character I was reading about. Also, it would be a mistake not to comment on the number of topics touched by the authors in this book. Starting from first crush, to a teacher who brought out the best in a student, to the class bully, to the dreaded teacher, to reunions, to young love, to failures, to politics – this book has it all.
The stories are categorized under 5 sections. 'Attendance is Compulsory', 'Festivals, Elections and Placements', 'Lights Out’, 'Looking Back’ and ‘Essays’. Each section dealing with separate stages of school/college life. The first section being the first stage – deals with the ‘fresher’ experience, sometimes of the students and sometimes of the teachers. We look back at adjusting & settling down in new atmosphere. The next section is the next stage, i.e, the settled ambience of the student life. The first crushes, young love, the friendships and the celebrations. ‘Lights Out’ & ‘Looking back sections deal with the discoveries made, lessons learnt and the unexpected experiences that comes with this life. We get a chance to see how our protagonists matured through time in introspect about that phase. The Essays –‘Fiction on Campus’ & ‘Bollywood on Campus’ are takes on the media’s take on Campus life.
The best thing about the book is that while it has stories by well-known names like Ira Trivedi, Ahmed Faiyaz and Paritosh Uttam, it also puts a few new names under the spotlight. It actually brings out new talents to us readers. In fact, my favourites in this book are: ’Learning & Unlearning’ by Rohini Kejriwal and ‘Bellow Yellow’ by Chinmayi Bali. Both the stories are by new authors and they have managed to capture the ‘negetive print’ of campus life amazingly well. Also, I must say that the last few times I picked up books by Indian authors, whom I am not going to name here, I was disgusted by their fixation with sex and female statistics and practically threw away a couple of books! This book has managed to restore my faith in Modern Indian Authors with their flow of words and in some cases with their depths.
So go on and get this book for yourself. It is a light read and will help you feel young again. [Ahem!! ‘Young ones can always feel ‘Younger’, right?]

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  1. Great review! i will be keeping my eye out for this one :) New follower!


  2. Great review and thanks so much for following my blog! :) Following back via both GFC and Linky.

  3. wow this would be a good addition for my school library =3

    P/S New Follower. Lisa @ When She Reads

  4. Thank you :) I'm glad you liked the story!

  5. Thanks for the Lovely Blog Award :D

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  7. Great review. I love your reviews and your blog.