At IIM Bangalore, A Yale graduate Samrat- An American-Indian who belongs neither here nor there, descends to learn the nitty-gritty of management, although his personal quest is aimed at self-discovery of what the elusive, notorious but much-chased happiness really is. As he tries to settle into the backbiting, sleep-snatching, grade-chasing life of business school in India, he starts to see things in a new light. Happiness takes on a new meaning. All the cliché explanations he has ever heard come together and a big picture begins to emerge.
Some books are like gusts of strong winds that just blow you away for a little while. When you land back on your feet, your glasses askew and your hair windswept, you see things a little better- perhaps with a freshness you didn’t think was possible before.
Keep off the Grass is one such book. It uses the simplest of words and without beating around the bush, takes you through a darkly introspective journey filled with tragic humour and a few refreshing realizations. What sets this book apart? Perhaps the fact that it pits a fast, competitive world against a slow, sluggish, hedonistic lifestyle and lets you decide where you want to end up. For me, a personal touch that brought the experience full circle was how the story wraps up at my hometown and in rather a charming way at that.
The past three weeks have been a rollercoaster. I don’t even understand why the things I have been exposed to make me feel fulfilled in a way years of education haven’t. This book was given to me as a parting gift from a friend I probably wouldn’t see for the next two years (at least). I don’t know why, despite my belief in randomness, things seem to be fitting together like puzzle pieces. There probably couldn’t have been a better timing for this book.
I am learning to be okay with different. It doesn’t have to be about running after the same things that other people want. I am still not sure what it has to be about, really. A sojourn was what I had felt like I needed and so I grabbed it with both hands, no questions asked. Lazy days examining the rain from a window and enjoying hot food and tea to the beats of romantic songs with a novel in my hand. A weekend spent that way and ending with an evening out and a sleepover. So when I reached home again, somewhat liberated, Keep off the Grass was the perfect answer to the questions in my head.
Arguably, this delightful little pocket-sized story wouldn’t even feature on best book lists. It just happened to be the right place and right time for me to read it. What is happiness, really? Just sitting here and typing this. Or meeting someone new. Or doing the work I am doing these days. Or a nature walk through one of the greenest places I have seen in a long time, especially when the Monsoon clouds are compounding its natural beauty. I feel dreamy and right now, I feel disconnected from life. Just drifting along.
Song of the moment: