Q & A
This section has some general Q&A about the book. There is another section with Q&A with the author after these questions.
What is Five Point Someone about?
Five point Someone is about three boys in IIT who can’t cope with the system. Their poor grade point average, brands them as the underperformers of IIT society – and tests everything else they hold important – friends, love, dreams and responsibilites. How important are grades or broadly speaking, how important is success compared to other aspects of your life? Five Point Someone explores this question.
Wow, sounds heavy. Is it?
Oh No! Not at all. The primary idea of this book is to entertain the reader. The genre is humour, and it attempts to bring the reader back into their college days where money was scarce, friends were plenty and even when facing deep life issues – you were having fun.
Tell us something more about the writing style used in the book?
The writing style is extremely informal. This may be reffered to as modern English, but the idea is to write as people talk in college age. Hence, no flowery language, no tough words you dreaded in a dictation, no set rules. Yet – it works, because it is the language of real people.
How big is the book?
The final details are being worked out, but expected to be around 250 pages which is a medium sized novel. However, because of the simple language, the book reads much faster.
So the book is set in IIT?
Yes, the book is set in the IIT Delhi campus. Locations, places and venues are all very real. And the prices for paranthas are real too – though at one point in time in the past.
Can we know a bit more about the story?
Hmmm. Telling you too much will take away something. Let us just say – three guys Hari, Alok and Ryan are wingmates in the hostel and have the same department. The three of them become the best friends, but they have different personalities, and different expectations out of the future. They have a rough start, and the downward spiral of the IIT system grips them before they know it. Does that help?
Sort of. And what is the love angle in the book?
And there is one female character in the book – the beautiful Neha, daughter of Professor Cherian. Rest, when you pick up the book.
General Q&A with the author about FPS (done ages ago – when FPS was just about to be published!)
How did you come about writing this book?
I have loved writing since my first four line joke came out in the school magazine when I was in Class V. I was so excited on seeing my name in print, I would show the magazine to random people on DTC buses.
Writing a book was always a dream, but I was worried my life will never have something so spectacular that I will have a story to tell. But IIT hostel life was quite something, and touched me (and anyone else who has been there) like nothing else in life. Maybe it was just the age, but it was very special. Hence, I got my subject.
The final reason was trying to change the stereotype of an IITian – full of numbers, geeky and nerdy. We are fun people too, and if you read this book you will see why and what we are upto in those years.
How long did it take?
It depends on where you start. The idea has been floating in my head for over eight years now. But much of the process took place over a three year period.
Three years? What was the process like?
You have to remember that I have a day job. Mostly it meant waking up an hour early in the morning and writing – every day, day after day; and sometimes, I wrote at night as well. First draft, second draft and so on until the ninth draft. Some people then said it doesn’t work. Back to the drawing board, a complete re-write, first draft, second draft and so on upto sixth draft. Then it worked!
And all these steps are slow, without hope of success in sight, and yes not funny at all. I must thank all those people who helped read various versions and took me through to the end.
Was it worth it?
Good question. I think marginally, yes! Just kidding. Actually, if I can contribute to a richer legacy of the institute – to provide something on IIT that tells you that there is a heart along with the brain, then it is worth it. And if my readers find it funny, then it is super duper worth it.
You mention the IIT hostel days were special. In what way?
Life at IIT transforms your personality completely, leaving permanent changes – as if you have had genetic mutations. Yet, I say this in a good way. You have never been around such smart people and such workload. And all the while, your pent-up hormones are just about getting started.
It is a very special age. In this system, all you have is your friends – you find respite in the same people you compete with. And soon, you bond like you never will with anyone else in life. Yes, I would go to the extent of saying that you bond better with your IIT friends than to your spouse (big statement, know I am going to regret this one).
The other aspect of IIT being special, is that later in life, when you have creature comforts that you always dreamt of, you may not be so happy after all. Ask any IITian or for that matter anyone who has been in college – despite the broken rubber chappals and roadside meals, those days are some of the happiest times of their lives. Why is it? This book is an attempt to explore that as well.
It is said your book explores the dark side of IIT as well. Is that true?
Well, yes and no. I think it not only explores the dark side, but also the bright side. Therefore for every student facing pressure, another one succeeds. If someone finds the situation stressful, another one finds it funny. Thus, I’d like to think it is a more balanced approach. But yes, it is not just a praise-filled work about IIT. It is more real – and real life doesn’t work that way.
Are there any books that inspired Five Point Someone -and why?
I learn whatever I can about writing from other great books. Some of the books that really stayed with me are:
- Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger) – It is the classic teenage voice book. The feelings of the protagonist and his anger get under your skin and stay with you.
- Moth Smoke (Mohsin Hamid) – This book, by a writer of Pakistani origin is wonderfully written, and one of the few that talks about modern, present-day issues for the new generation in Pakistan. It is strikingly relevant to India too.
- The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy) – This book is very well known for the richness of its characters and emotions. However, as an engineer, I also see Ms. Roy’s architecture background contributing structure to the story. She has done a wonderful job at weaving the story together, which is told non-sequentially. Very hard to do this well, and she has done it.
- Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) – Very funny. The humor is top class and the fact that the name became an accepted English phrase tells you what impact it has had.
- English August (Upmanyu Chatterjee) – The IAS officer’s story is again extremely funny and very Indian.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative, any fun details that would enliven your page.
Well, first fact is that when I was really young I wanted to be a chef. I gave up because I saw some really overweight chefs and I was worried I would have a heart attack by 35. I still really like cooking (and eating) . Owing to yoga influences, I am turning mostly vegetarian but still creating healthy, tasty dishes.
Second, I really do like Govinda and some other Tapori movies. Now, I do enjoy movies and books with deep meaning (see the Spanish film Talk to Her, too good!), but how can you be a Delhi boy and not like Govinda?
Third, I love making friends. So please do send a note on the guestbook. Who knows, as Rick says at the end of the movie Casablanca – “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”