Thursday, June 09, 2005

A novel pastime

A new Crossword bookshop is coming up on Hill Road. Ain't that wonderful?? Like the advent of multiplexes brought with it the 'multiplex movie' phenomenon, could the spread of chains like Crossword be ushering in a 'bookplex' one?

Certainly the kinds of books being written in English for Indians has undergone a change. The 80s and 90s saw the Salman Rushdie-Arundhati Roy variety off books which were based in India but written for the international audience - with a spillover Indian readership.

Today, you have a new generation of books and authors with no literary pretensions. They're just good timepass reads about people, places and things the urban Indian can connect with. And surprise! many are written by b school graduates. Which is what my piece 'A Novel Pastime' published in the latest Businessworld magazine looks at...

By day, they are investment bankers and brand managers. By night, they toil away at their keyboards, tapping into their own experiences to spin out slice-of-life stories that appeal to 'People Like Us'.

IIM Ahmedabad graduate Chetan Bhagat relived his IIT days in Five Point Someone. Swati Kaushal's stints at Nestle and Nokia provided rich fodder for Piece Of Cake, a light-hearted tale set in corporate India. And that's just the beginning. July 2005 sees the launch of Mediocre But Arrogant, a story of love and life in the fictitious Management Institute of Jamshedpur (MIJ).

You can read the rest of my story here (free registration required)

Bottomline: MBAs turning to writing is actually not that surprising because many Indian B-school graduates are simply exceptionally bright individuals who followed the easiest path available to them. Anyone who's been on an elite b school campus will vouch for the many potentially great singers, writers and film makers lost to the world of business.

Or then again - as these novelists prove - maybe not.


  1. Hello rashmi,i love reading BW reading it for more than 6 years, i read some selected ones only, earlier i used to read MAHESH MURTHY, but now not seeing his writing gone busy some where else!NOW i love to read urs!! read out your last article on passtime novel..sure madam for last some times we see many writers...totally away from own country...but still write about the nitty-gritty of indian life! i m not master on that so cant say whether it is very much og high level or not they proved one thing that your background never will come if you have passion and burning desire to write...i loved FIVE POINT.... i felt that i m in my own engg. hostel...coommon madam now plzz donot make any comments on my thoughts....once you made!! is just manifestation of thoughts....what we harbour in our own minds...once and still... i m inclined for writing but there was enough pressure on me to just keep urself with your own line! anyway thats india...every folks dreams that his son sud only b engineer or doctor at least 10 years back now may see smart folks!hey waiting for your book WHEN? WRITE...WORLD KNOWS YOU ONLY WHEN YOU WRITE!! ENCORE NITTY-GRITTY...OF BEING FAMOUS!

  2. Writing is an exploration of language,how much language can do how far can it pretend..human experience and feelings....we have to check that in coming time for our new writers!

  3. This was an inevitable fallout of the MBA becoming a very aspirational part of the Indian psyche. DNA's ad on 'I am not from the IIMs' or the amount of buzz when ET writes about post MBA salaries is a good indicator. MBA degree is almost a get rich scheme of sorts at times. Add to that an oversupply of MBAs and lot of vela time at MNC offices (one similarity between all the writers u mentioned in ur article).. u have a ready market plus lots of budding writers.

  4. Hey rashmi, the link to Business World is Erroneous...

  5. An average Crossword is way smaller than an average Barnes and Noble store . A Barnes and Noble store also has very good reading spaces and I have seen many African students in the US studying there. Many including me used to love reading all the magazines at the B&N stores and the storeowners had no problem with that. Would really like to see Indian book stores evolve in this fashion.
    As for Indian writers, I have a feeling that all Indian writers deliberately try to make Indian sexuality the centre of gravity of their writing. The sexual elements brought in "The Inscrutabe Americans" and "Five point someone" were rather unneccesary and seemed to be deliberately playing to the gallery.

  6. I have been close follower of Crossword. earlier-23 years back the service level was high. But with expansion complecancy has set in. The new store employees don't have same enthusiasm as earlier.
    The new stores are smaller in size,shivaji park. Hence number of books has reduced and it has become more of a stationary shop.

  7. writers are hypocrites.....all of them.....kafka tells his friend to burn all his literature when hes gone , when he knew it for sure that the guy wudnt....thats just one example...
    chetan bhagat....hehe...%%^^^&&&...
    dumb fool.....i spent
    4 yrs in IITD as well...65% of things he mentions in his book is chickenshit.
    I believe i can prove every writer to be a hypocrite...
    I know i sound like a brainwashdically opinionated judgemental fool....
    I hate to put comments on ppls blogs...
    I loathe ppl like u who glorify MBA education....

  8. Anonymous3:06 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. the only reason why writers go in for an MBA is that-if the the books dont sell,you still have to eat ,dont you?

  10. I too don't think B-School graduates are that exceptional individuals as you always put them to be.Probably, couple of years back, I used to think the same. But now once I have graduated and know real people who are going to IIM'S (and I mean a lot of them),I don't find anything exceptional about them.Most of them took CAT coz everyone around u is doing the same...and now once you ve got thru one of the premier B-schools , its just too big a deal not to take an admission.I think management and Engineering education has only become a means of buying a more secure future fer urself.I am Engg. graduate myself and if four years ago i had a slightest of an idea that i'll probably be solving differntial Equations that ill hardly ever make any sense of..i mite not have opted for Engg. And I am very sure that the same management education that u glorify so much, if not had been for money,probably Chetan Bhagat would not have been from IIM-A.

  11. Anonymous4:37 AM

    hi rashmi

    im (unfortunately) in the MBA program at the University of Maryland (online e-commerce specialisation)....plz visit my Blog at

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. hey guys...this is an inspired first blog..that comes into existence after reading joydeeps comments..

    being in a premier B school worth more than it is know for, ie XL, the B-school expereince atleaset to me..and i am sure to most others, is much more than good hostels and other basic civic amenities..well, im sure that joy would agree that certain higher level need, unlike what maslow thought, preceed other basic needs..and hence this view..

    so if all that one looks for is "more than satisfactory conditions" then you are probably in the wrong place..hey by the way, where did you have your interview? in jampot right?? it was an (un)informed decision made by you, only once you had made a(n) (un)concious choice of what u were getting into...

    well so unless u did all of it for a "babu" tagged job...i dont have much more to say...happy Xling for the placement to you..and for the two years to us...

  15. Opinions on such matters as quality of B-Schools posted in such forums is based on individual expectations and perceptions. That is why mags like IT conduct SURVEYS and express a more generic opinion rather than publish personal ones.
    For any more personal opinions about XL do visit and find a different view (might even go for a "generic opinion" here in "jampot")

  16. gayatri iyer(now ganjawalla), the singer ,is from IIM Lucknow. how cool is that?

  17. again an obscure comment in your archives
    but yeah do not forget samit basu - the simoqin prophecies and the manticore's secret ...
    such wonderful books

    given the fact that he himself is iima drop-out ... and yes a truly remarkable sff genre book that even my amma applauded ...


  18. I BEGAN writing my novel Home Products in the summer of 2003, a few weeks before my wife gave birth to our first child.
    But even before I began work on the book I bought a black hardcover sketchbook. In its pages, I started writing down whatever I liked in what I happened to be reading. Among the earliest journal entries is the opening line of a review that had appeared, in the New York Times, of the film "The Hours". This was also the opening line of a novel by Virginia Woolf. I cut it out and pasted it in my journal. "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."
    There are no notes around that neatly cut out quote but I can imagine why it had appealed to a first-time novelist. You read Woolf's line and are suddenly aware of the brisk entry into a fully-formed world. No fussing around with irrelevant detail and back-story. And I began to write various opening lines.
    Read more How to write a novel

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