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Posts Tagged ‘Sidin Vadukut’

The Sceptical Patriot by Sidin Vadukut

Posted by RB Kollannur on July 10, 2014

Sidin Vadukut’s “The Sceptical Patriot” is the type of book that needs to be in Indian school libraries. In it, he explores the truthfulness of many of the facts that we “know” about India ranging from the invention of zero to plastic surgery. A civilization as ancient as the one in the subcontinent is bound to have many myths and legends, overgrown by hearsay and exaggeration. A course correction is, at times, needed.

In a work vastly more different than his satirical Dork series, Vadukut has matured as an author to move towards an alternate plane. The Sceptical Patriot is not meant for avid historians, but for beginners who are fascinated by many things Indian. The research done is excellent and for most part he sticks to the points being discussed. While it is easy for many writers to focus too much on research and bring out a boring technical book, Vadukut has managed to add just the right bit of humor to keep the average reader interested. He adds a personal touch as well, bringing in anecdotes from his life. While the connect between the anecdotes and the content are at times disjointed, they do well in humanizing the content.

A two chapter summation may sound too much, but it justifies the need for the book. It is often said history is written by the winners, but unless you kill off the losers like the way we killed off the Neanderthals, it is likely that their history will survive, creating a confusing version of the world. For example, have you ever thought why the only two people who would go for ritual circumcision in the modern world prior to Moses were the Egyptians and the Jews? For those really interested in history there are, for most part, material available for finding the truth. However, when history gets taught by the winners, it manages to imbibe itself into a society that may have otherwise rejected it.

The Sceptical Patriot do not seek to rewrite history textbooks, but it keeps the student open to more ideas. And for that it needs to be in Indian school libraries.


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Who Let the Dork Out? by Sidin Vadukut

Posted by RB Kollannur on March 30, 2014

Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 02/01/2013

Publisher – Penguin; Year of Publication – 2012; Pages – 255; Cost at the time of purchase – Rs. 199

Robin “Einstein” Varghese is back, fumbling through another gem of a story with unsurpassable clumsiness, complete lack of intellect and excessive belief of self worth, and still manages to gets away with all of it as usual by the end. I had started my book review column with the second book of Sidin Vadukut’s Dork trilogy, God Save the Dork, when it was published late last year. Now the author has completed his laugh riot with its third and final instalment.

The last of the Dork books continues on with the general theme of clumsiness and comedy by the central character, Robin Varghese, though the author has chosen a more serious topic in the book; that of political corruption. While the first books had the protagonist as a small time business consultant who deals in corrupt business practices, the latest book has him heading (in the interim) the Indian unit of a global consultancy minor, who has been drafted in to be a consultant (of the Nira Radia variety) for a central government ministry dealing with a global sports event.

Hilarity ensues after the minister is send to jail and Varghese has now got to handle the affairs on behalf of the minister and in typical Indian Stretchable Time fashion, all projects are lagging behind in everything and needs more luck than Steven Bradbury to come through with flying colours (of t shirts). While the book is an obvious satire of the corruption saga tied on with the 2010 Commonwealth Games, coming in 2012, it is unlikely the general public can remember that far back in the past to connect the dots. After all, public memory is reputedly very short.

Nevertheless, Dork 3 is a complete laugh riot, but carries a stronger message than the previous ones. I had initially wondered how Vadukut could sustain the momentum of the first two books and build on it (and not have a copycat book by rehashing earlier themes). Dealing with events that may still be in many readers’ memory he has managed to achieve it.

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God Save the Dork by Sidin Vadukut

Posted by RB Kollannur on July 15, 2012

Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 13/02/2012

Publisher – Penguin; Pages – 242; Cost – Rs 199; Purchased from Cosmo.

Early 2011, Sidin Vadukut revealed the secret diary of Robin “Einstein” Varghese, a fictional MBA grad from one of those B schools in Ahmedabad, a place where overpaying formerly bankrupt investment banks/consultancy firms find new recruits.

After getting into one such company, Robin fumbled his way through a fortuitous year managing to get a promotion and a steady girlfriend.

Now, Sidin is back with the sequel God Save the Dork.

If you had given Sidin’s first novel, Dork, a miss believing it to be just another college/post college stuff spawned by the popularity of Peter Robinson’s Snapshots from Hell, you are indeed unfortunate. You have missed one of the funniest “work” since Liar’s Poker.

While Dork cannot match up to the dark comedy of Liar’s Poker, especially in light of the US housing industry collapse, it did provide a few telling blows to the practices of consultancy firms and top level MBA grads in India.

But what set Dork apart from other B-School books was its satirical nature. Mixing up the foolhardiness of Bertie Wooster of the PG Wodehouse fame and the bragging quality of Reggie Mantle of the Archies, Sidin has created a character that is seriously hilarious and hilariously serious.

In God Save the Dork, Sidin continues with the theme made familiar in the first book. Robin has an uncomfortable close encounter with a collar mike which becomes a recurring side gag (the first had an encounter with a swan), an HR exercise run by an attractive female colleague and a grand finale.

In the meantime, Robin tries to get dumped by his girlfriend or not to get fired, thanks to his consistent buffooneries.

While the first book dealt with certain “unethical” practices by consultants around the world, the second book opens a page into business corruption. God Save the Dork is staged in London, where Sidin is presently living, as a columnist with Mint, and he has tried to introduce bits and pieces of mundane London life into the book.

There are too many Mohanlal references though, perhaps a fallback to Sidin’s Malayali roots, which may alienate the Mammotty fans who may read the book. GSTD scores over the first with a better finish, by being more believable, despite being outrageous.

If you are looking for a couple of hours of laugh riot, God Save the Dork is the perfect catalyst.

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