Monday, November 18, 2013

Ghanta College: The Art of Topping College Life by Clyde D'Souza

Ghanta College: The Art of Topping College Life is (author) Clyde D'Souza's (somewhat cumourously-titled, that's a portmanteau made from 'curious' and 'humourous') second offering. It's not a book of short stories; it's not a novel or novella either. Its 'humour' and non-fiction, though the eye-catching book jacket cover somewhat flatters to deceive. ~ Some writers seem to achieve an effortless humour. But then, humour is very difficult to get right, and it is almost impossible to define what makes something "funny", particularly in books. 

Book blurb: '... For the first time in India comes a non-pakao book that gives students straight answers to nervous questions. ... The ultimate college guide as you go from nervous fresher to confident graduate. With true college stories from celebrities and gyan in the form of Professor's Tips, Topper's Secrets, and Nerd's Warnings, if there’s any book you even pretend to read during college, make it Ghanta College.' 

About the book (along with my twopenceworth): The author has given some tips on how to have fun in college and manage the academics. There are some quick solutions (or even consolation, and some purportedly entertaining snippets) on how one should spend the last few days in school, besides some tips on how to go about choosing the right college, being cool, hostel life, and so on.

Umm, did I say some purportedly entertaining snippets? ... Well, make that some (purportedly) quick solutions or even consolation. That's because D'Souza has tried too hard - to be humourous, funny and cool. He has tried his bestest to make it all seem full of wit and wisdom... the sort that tickles the funny bone and bring a smile to your face, or will have you laughing out loud. ~ The end result is somewhat underwhelming (though there are some bits of spontaneous fun and humour.) However, it could have been a quick and informal read, an unboring read (though, without any take-away or lasting effect) - if only it had been more free-flowing and compact, and paired with inventive situations. That way it would have capitalized on a promising premise, instead of being tripped up by (a somewhat) poor/tepid execution. Having said that, it could still work for you... but for that you will have to read the book to find out.

Ghanta College has 11 chapters: Leaving School; Choosing a College; Fresher Year; Academics; Being Cool; Dating & Relationships; Parties & Dancing; Hostel Life; Internet & Mobile; Alcohol & Drugs, and Beyond College. ~ They cover topics like: The Last Day in School; Bluffmaster Guide on Board Exams; Types of College; The Classroom Map; Student Stereotypes; Time Table vs Timepass Table; Bluffmaster Guide to Classroom; Canteen Behaviour; Bluffmaster Guide on Bunking; Extra-curricular Activities; The Party Guide; Typical Roomies; Hostel Food; Dropping Out, and so on.

The Guest Lecturers are: TV personality Rajiv Lakshman, Singer Ramona Arena, Author Vrushali Telang, IIT dude Gaurav Sahni and Stand Up Comedian Chris Lazarus.

Here is an excerpt from 'Types of College':

'K-JO College: This is the kind of college you dream of securing admission to - a place where the college building looks like it's been licked everyday by the Principal himself. The students can easily pass off as actors and have equally befitting surnames like Kapoor and Khan. Everyone drives a fancy car to college and there's always one poor kid (how did he get there, I wonder?) madly in love with a rich guy's daughter.

Three Idiots College: This type of college is marked by hardcore studying, corridors filled with bespectacled geeks on the verge of a new invention, and most importantly, NO GIRLS.

Emraan Hashmi College: You could refer to this kind as the Madhur Bhandarkar College. Everyone looks normal, like they actually travel by train, have pimples, and look as ordinary and real as...well...Emraan.'


On the issue of dropping out, however, D'Souza rightly points out that famous dropouts (like Mark Zuckerberg) did not get bitten by the genius bug one night, got up the next morning and created Facebook. ~ That in truth these guys were already ahead of the curve and possibly found formal education a little too slow for them. And that: even if they were out of the system they spent much of time poring over textbooks - teaching themselves without the help of professors and help from fellow students. ~ That takes a lot of motivation, a cool intellect and single-minded ambition. Bottomline: They did not 'drop out' to escape studying.

Rating: I am going with a 2/5 for Clyde D'Souza's latest.

There aren't too many editing errors. But it could have been a sparkling (time-pass) read or (at least) a good time-pass read... full of fun and wit, instead of a convoluted and laboured one - if only the author had been less conscious about making it humourous.

Details of the book: Ghanta College: The Art of Topping College Life/ Author: Clyde D'Souza/ Publisher: Ebury Press, an imprint of Random House India/ Binding: Paperback/ Language: English/ Publishing Date: September 2013/ Genre: Humour; Non-Fiction/ ISBN-10: 8184003765/ ISBN-13: 9788184003765/ Pages: 264/ Price: INR 199.

Picture: The book jacket cover of Ghanta College: The Art of Topping College Life. Courtesy: link.