Saturday, July 12, 2014

#77 : And We Remained By Asad Ali Junaid : A Review


BOOK TITLE: And We Remained


AUTHOR: Asad Ali Junaid



FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:  The writer sent us the book in exchange for a honest review. We thank him for it.


It is Bangalore in the late 1990’s. There are tremendous socio-economic and cultural transformations taking place as a result of liberalization. How would these changes impact a group of friends in their late teens? How would they cope, find opportunities and what of their original identities would they be left with, after western ideologies are brought in and bombarded into their awareness by cable TV and new media? 
Told through emails and first person account of events, And We Remained is a light and entertaining read of these friends as they experience love, heartbreak, prison, politics, drunken binges, strip clubs, sexcapades, US and Europe during their journey into adulthood.


Prompt replies and follow ups are one thing that impresses us.  (er….effects of corporate world may be!)The writer wrote to us and promptly followed up with timely replies. The summary intrigued both of us and we had a mini fight as to who should review the book ( Nothing to worry there! Just the normal banter between two kids…er…okay…. adults who just didn’t grow up!) The solution ended up being asking the writer for two copies and me being chosen as the “communicator”. Alas! to our surprise he just said yes and promptly couriered it. Till date the whole backend process of our review system hasn’t been mentioned anywhere. Now our little secret it out!

When the book arrived I eagerly tore open the covers only to find a very intriguing cover with lot of words which invited some raised eyebrows from my roomie! Good job with the cover which happens to be designed by the writer himself! ( No wonder there! The writer is a HMI specialist. He would obviously know about design and stuff!)

I picked up the book with a lot of expectations. And yes, the book did live 90% to my expectations. The story line just didn’t give me a closure that I prefer. Or to look at it from a different perspective, some stories don’t have that closure. Like that of  Sahir’s & Wraddha’s from the story.

The story is a memoir of a bunch of friends from college as narrated by Sahir, Sandeep,Gopal, David & Anand in two different time lines – the present in a series of email conversations and past in the form of a normal narrative. This whole concept of multiple narrations in two times can get a bit confusing if the writer messes up with the characterisation. Thankfully for me the writer managed to keep his characters distinct but similar (Oh come on! What can possibly ‘not similar’ about male gender during their college days chasing the same girl! :-p). Though initially I had some struggles getting adjusted to this switch, as the story progressed I got comfortable.

Hang on there. There isn’t actually a cohesive ‘normal’ or ‘mundane’ sort of story. The ‘story’ is more like a memoir or series of events of bunch of graduate kids who went through all the normal stuff (expect for the getting arrested part of it) that a grad student goes through.

Every bit and every other incident of the past narration by various characters reminded me of my time in college (Which BTW was 2 whole years ago!)and for some reason provoked quite a number of lost emotions in me.

The writing or vocabulary didn’t exactly stand out. The writer used a lot of local slang. I wouldn’t really complain about that as the book’s theme is such.

My only complaint ( or may be a bit weariness?!) is the similarity between the characters. Can men possibly think just about hot babes or liquor or love all the time? Aren’t there other mundane things! I wonder *in Olivander’s tone from Harry Potter*

VERDICT: Go for it if you had a memorable time in college for the book might provoke the painful memories from past.

RATING: 4 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Asad Ali Junaid is a design professional in Bangalore working in the area of Human-Machine Interaction. 
Junaid’s book – And We Remained – started as a story which needed to be told… and one which needed to be told differently. While he was struggling to get the narration style and structure right, he joined a three week in residence ‘Just Write’ fiction writing workshop where he got a chance to learn the nuances of and hone his story telling skills from authors Anil Menon, Anjum Hasan and Rimi Chatterjee. 

Junaid writes whenever there is a compelling story inside him bursting to get out. Junaid has written several short stories and is currently editing his second book – which like his first one – has an absorbing story and is very different in narration style.

Junaid has been a resident of Bangalore most of his life except for brief stints in the US for higher education and work. He has seen Bangalore’s transformation from the sleepy town that it was, to an IT hub of today. 

Junaid’s wife is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Their toddler completes their home while keeping them on their toes.


PRICE: Rs.249 (Paperback)


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse

1 comment:

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