First up: when will Indian Fiction graduate in something other than Engineering?
Too narrow you’re being. We now have bank accountants, managers, reality show contestants. They all have their noses up, sitting in those shelves next to the biggies. They know they will be picked up when the snobbish Shakespeare-and-Tagore companion ain’t looking. But yes, engineers are right up there when it comes to bubblegum. I have to grant you that.
So, where does this train take us?
GIET. An Engineering college in Gunupur, away in Odisha. Author Smruti Mohanty says in his own words – “the atmosphere has a Shakespearean ambiance…”. True to that, we are introduced to a lovelorn Romeo – Aditya – who is continually battling a conflict between his heart and mind. He cannot make up his mind about his Juliet you see.
Love story, eh?
The cursive “Love” on the cover should speak for itself. “The Engineering Train” is the tale of how young minds – especially Engineering ones – are confused when it comes to matters of the heart. Aditya and Reena are at centre stage, confused and confusing (the readers) as they sit kissing by a tombstone or making love in a Gents PG. Friends of these two – Bisu and Deba – have adventures of their own. Yet more GIETians come along screaming, flirting and abusing. What fun.
Cross your heart?
Oh yes. As the tale progresses, it is evident that Mohanty has made good use of his Eastman-coloured memories. These recollections help with the finer details of his characters and comprise the more enjoyable parts of this ride.
Tell us about the Engineering connection. Appealing?
In a way. To the Engineers, you know, who have spent their internship getting trained in girl-watching, this should be a walk down memory lane. The book, in a neat bogie-style, traverses through all the eight semesters of the degree and elaborates on the high points each brings. Friends, squabbles, booze, placement interviews, you name it. Even if most people are not brilliant enough to manage a 70% when they have spent the majority of the term ogling at girls, reading about Aditya and his friends shouldn’t be too bad.
Oh, say I am your regular non-engineer. What then? Too heavy-duty, would it be?
Hardly. Considering this is a tale of youngsters and they are bold and sassy all that…the language is extremely casual. Never bother about those rules of Grammar your non-engineering degree taught you; you can even chuck the punctuation. Also, at a little more than 200 pages, this is a one-sitting thing.
The train’s headlights?
Easy reading, campus frolic, masala! There is also considerable gyan dictated by the Heart and the Mind – personified in style.
And the red flag(s) at the rear end?
Do not pick this up if you are bored to death with Mr. Bhagat’s aftershocks, cannot stand the ‘colloquial’ in a paperback and are looking for the ‘novel’ in a novel. But if you have a few idle hours and wish to ride a train that goes nowhere in particular, you might choose to hop on. Just hold on tight.
Author Smruti Mohanty had sent along a review copy. To know more about his latest offering, you can visit him here. I wish you luck Smruti, for this venture and all others you will take up in the future.