“How do you review a book like 7 am Chronicles?”
I mean, it’s hard to pin this book down to one thing. The book clearly says it’s Nonfiction and a set of chronicles. But it’s so much more honestly.
There’s a lot of imagination and fantasy interwoven with the stark reality in this book. It’s a chronicle, memoir, journal, musing, commentary, fiction, satire, conversation, and even a parable. Yeah, like Jesus’ parable in its philosophy and storytelling style. Unintentional, I’m sure! Contrast ‘The parable of the sower’ from The Bible and ‘City of the Deaf’ in this book.
To make matters simple for me, I’d call it a literary buffet – a vivid burst of varied colors and flavors to tickle and satiate all your senses.
I’ve always believed that the mark of a good writer is honesty and courage. Both of which the author, Indraneel Majumdar, possesses in abundance. But, it’s one thing to state the truth, and another thing to say it with tact. Indraneel, the writer, has this uncanny ability to tread into the choppy waters of politics and religion, and state the hard truth with irresistible suaveness; without ruffling any feathers. Be it ‘Ram wouldn’t shoot’, ‘Those middle Indian places and their people’, ‘We are Silent,’ ‘The unwashed’, ‘Midnight awakenings’, ‘The stoic hungry man’, ‘Basic Bharat,’ ‘I can only laugh’, ‘Science and Swami, who’s winning?’, and ‘Durga Puja has many uses.’
Most of Indraneel’s opinions are non-populist, and he dares to voice it out. In ‘Running Mallya,’ he plays the Devil’s Advocate with a convincing stance.
“The people who made money while Kingfisher was trying to build itself. And now pass WhatApp forwards and gloat at his failure even after making money off him.
My personal favorites in the book are the ones where Indraneel’s humor made me laugh out loud in his trademark nonchalant style. Sample the ‘You call it Jugaad’,
Your journey downwards commences. The railings are a respite. They are for holding onto. So, you better hold onto them. Each step may hurtle you down into an abyss. You may wake up in Darwin. Down under. Under meters of gauge. And speak like a born again saint.
“God has sent me back to nurture you cave dwellers from rolling down stairs.”
Even when Indraneel tunes up the humor quotient to the highest degree of hyperbole, he manages to keep it understated, and well, nonchalant. Think ‘Poha or Roll is the question’ and ‘Uber on Street’. Or ‘Jammed Airways’;
“Mil gaya Sir?”
I say yes, and move on. My phone has performed better. So, I am Victor. I can strut.
Cab driver is called. He is waving. I wave too. We meet at the cab. It’s like Asha Parekh and Rajendra Kumar meeting. Gallant smiles. Luggage dumped in. I sit. Cab guy tries putting my ride to life. Now his Ola device has jammed.
Asha Parekh becomes Goga Kapoor.
The Bollywood references are unmissable. It’s an art to have others in splits while you manage to stay all cool, on top, and in control. The book’s a stand-up comedy, WTH! Wait a minute; there’s a poem in there somewhere at the end! That’s dessert! Sweet! I’m all charged. Life’s good!
Which reminds me that 7 am Chronicle’s also free therapy. I remember one late night; I couldn’t get a wink of sleep due to my nagging neck and shoulder pain. Without disturbing the rest of the family members, I sat in my living room, and read the 7 am Chronicles, and smiled along, till I yawned and fell asleep. The book’s given me great company in good times, bad times, and sick times. Who needs a counsellor or a Godman!
7 am Chronicle’s also a self-help/motivational book. Voila! Read ‘Getting Seats,’ ‘Dog, leader,’ ‘Perseverance and bloody hard work,’ ‘Self-actualized people,’ ‘Waqt – race against time,’ ‘Stumbling through,’ ‘Accepting goodness, big ask?’, ‘Fifty-one good minutes,’ ‘Muscle memory stuff,’ ’Our own cloisters, our own prisons,’ ‘The premium state,’ , Complaints. Many types, Over the ages’, ‘He called for reassurance,’ and ‘Talent and spreading smiles’.
There’s a splatter of endearing relationship stories in the book revolving around the (in)famous Missus – Ma/ MIL & DIL, and ends on an emotional note chronicling the father-daughter bond.
I have to mention the lovely book cover illustration and design by Suvankar Nandi. It’s a beauty! Maitabi Banerjee has done a wonderful job in curating some of Indraneel’s finest works and showcasing his caliber in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Charudutt Acharya’s memorable and heart-warming foreward, which sets off the book on a good note.
What could have been better
I would have loved it if there was a ‘Contents’ section at the start for easy reference. But, I learned from the author that its absence was intentional.
While the chronicles were engaging and fabulous, some of the titles lacked pizzaz. Like ‘This Gender Equality business’ and ‘The Equality Business.’ Or the Adarsh Male and its several versions. All of them fiercely feminist pieces. Or this brilliant whimsical piece I loved that was called the ‘Millennial Men,’ which I would have titled ‘Magic Cow.’
On the other hand, though, there were some titles which did the piece complete justice, like ‘Pick up, someone!’, ‘Names, Naam, Naamankan,’ ‘City of the Deaf,’ ‘Oh, they are good, maybe’ or even the simple and straightforward ‘The Family.’
There are a couple of minor flaws, though you forget them once you get engrossed in the book.
Bhavani Iyer, Screenwriter, and Novelist (Raazi, Black, Guzarish, and Lootera) sums up the book the best when she writes,
“Humorous, wry, nostalgic, insightful, and deeply affectionate in tone. Majumdar dabs a gentle brush of acceptance over startling observations of everyday people, regular places, and our (seemingly) humdrum existence. ‘The 7 am Chronicles can be the sweet maple syrup over your waffles or the spicy chutney beside your dosa.”
She’s spot-on as the book can be anything that you want it to be.
I’ll go with the sweet maple syrup. What about you?
You can purchase 7 am Chronicles on Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/7-am-Chronicles-Indraneel-Majumdar/dp/9353826020/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=7+am+chronicles&qid=1581192229&sr=8-1