An entertaining, enjoyable and a fun read.
Based in Bangalore, TGC Prasad isn't a professional author but comes from a strategic and general management consulting background. Nevertheless he has written several novels and along the way is his latest offering.
This is the story of three friends – who met at NIT Kozhikode (Calicut) and became friends for life.
Venkata (Venkata Subramaniam Adisankara Tanikaburla) or VSAT hails from a small town and is the son of a schoolteacher. Raj Malhotra is from Delhi and is the quintessential Punjabi munda, whose father deals in pre owned cars. Adi or Aditya too hails from Andhra but miraculously has a short name ... and a secret of his own.
We read about their lives in NIT – K, and it is nicely sprinkled with wit and humour.
During their third year Venkata becomes besotted with Anjali – a Coorgi girl with a retired colonel for a father. Food (both solid and liquid), sleep and computers keep Adi occupied while Raj is only too happy to take his Malhotra khandaan's 'specialties' forward *wink*
By a happy coincidence all four of them, along with Srila, Anjali's best friend, are placed with TCS. After the training period Srila opts for Chennai, while the others remain in Bangalore. We get to read about their office capers, peek into the lives of software engineers and get a glimpse of the goings-on in the IT industry.
Anjali and VSAT want to marry, but will their culturally diverse families give in to their wishes? Will VSAT's parents agree to have a non-Telugu speaker as their daughter-in-law and more importantly will Anjali's retired Colonel and trivia loving father accept VSAT, who is woefully short on trivia, as his son-in-law.
Well read the book to find out, I won't play the spoiler.
You get to read about what IT companies are willing to do to acquire talent, make sure they join and retain them. It is difficult to get TCS folks to join ... even if a good offer is made, the hard copies of the offer letters handed over, umpteenth questions answered and even after the candidates accept the offer and commits to join. Rest assured, TCS line and staff managers will do everything and more to hold them back ... and will most definitely bring out their trump card, their Brahmastra ... an onsite opportunity (in the US of course). Matter settled.
And while I am at it, let me also demolish a popular myth – that HR folks have all the power to make or break someone's career.
It is not so. HR folks – are part of the staff function – and have no power or very little power, which is, pretty much equivalent to having no power at all. But are popular scapegoats – for line managers – if anything went wrong. HR especially Talent Acquisition plays the supply chain function in the IT industry. They hire the talent required for a project to commence or ramp up ... and have to adhere to the negotiable and non-negotiable aspects of the requirements and SOPs. They have to make provisions for no shows, reneges and backfills too ... in order to minimize revenue leakage. And all this cannot be done after a joinee fails to show up or resigns within a short time span. These have to be anticipated well in advance. Folks in talent acquisition are assessed based on offer to joinee ratio and offer to on boarding ratio. They operate within a strict hiring budget and timelines ... er ... deadlines. It is not called deadline for nothing ... you are dead if things don't happen as per the hiring plan.
But I digress.
along the way is a warm hearted story that is tailor made for the silver screen. There is fun, humour, wit, friendship, romance, ruthna- manana, campus and office capers, quirks, heartburn over increments and office politics, well meaning advice and letters from parents, foreign tours, visa capers, city life, small town, picturesque locales, tragedy, comedy, Hitler and Pappu, good food, bad food, maggi, kissing in the rain, Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu's – the one who can break light posts with his bare hand - heavy duty dialogues and hold your breathe ... a friendly cameo by none other than Shah Rukh Khan!
What else do you want?
And yes, there is even the bit about the divine and the mandatory offering of one's crowning glory to the Lord of the hills.
And before I forget, there are lots of trivia too – so your GK will surely travel northward, whether you like it or not.
My rating: 3.5/5
The language is simple and the writing style is crisp which makes for an easy read and a thoroughly enjoyable read. The production value of the book is good, the cover design is quite attractive and the book feels good to hold. There are very few editing errors and it only adds to the reading pleasure.
I only wish that certain aspects of Raj and Srila's lives were better developed.
You can find echoes of: Hyderabad Blues, 3 idiots and Dil Chahta Hai in this novel. And even that of Chetan Bhagat's Five Point Someone. Umm, considering that it was the only readable book by Mr. Bhagat, that isn't too bad, no?
Bollywood, where are you?
Details of the book: along the way/ Author: TGC Prasad/ Publisher: Rupa Publications/ Publishing Date: 07/01/2011/ ISBN: 978-81-291-1784-7/ Paperback/Pages: 368/ Price: Rs.295.
Photograph: The book jacket cover of along the way. Picture courtesy: link.