BOOK REVIEW- B.I.T – Bit by Bit by Triloki Nagpal
What astounds me is that Triloki Nagpal has bit by bit reconstructed all the details of those wonderful formative years he spent at BIT Mesra without missing any of those various escapades which went a long way towards making the man he is today. He acknowledges that in the first few lines of the first chapter when he says “I am writing this not as an autobiography, but as a tribute to the Institute that transformed me from a spoilt brat into a new, changed and responsible person in the five years that I spent there.”
Anyone who has had the opportunity to spend those five years in a college hostel will be able to connect with all that Triloki has narrated. I did and in the process of reading the book I was able to start recollecting and reconnecting with my own experiences during that phase of my life. From my own experience I can say that these are the years that make you or break you. That is when you discover, experiment and reinvent yourself.
The author bio says that ‘He was brought up in a conservative and God fearing Hindu family that valued traditions but also believed in modern upbringing. Being a rationalist Triloki rebelled against traditions by marrying the girl of his choice from a different community and caste. Being a rationalist and a self-made atheist, he does not subscribe to superstition and blind faith.” One can understand that spending those five years away from the sometimes overpowering influence of the family helps to develop your own way of looking at things.
I particularly liked the chapters on ’Ragging’, ‘Contractor’s Mess’, ‘Planchette’ and the chapter on ‘Backward Prof’ especially when he talks about dozing off during class sessions. It was as if I was reading my own account of my experiences. When he talks about his weekend getaways to Calcutta, I was reminded of my own trips to Calcutta at least twice a month and by the way my return trips to Kharagpur were always by the Ranchi Express as it was one of the last trains to leave Howrah, uncanny but I also used to travel sitting near the footboard. How come we did not meet, or did we?
But it is in chapter 2 ‘The Beginning’ that he introduces us to those pair of eyes peering at him from what was supposed to be the luggage rack. That perhaps, when you reach the end of the book you realize, was a defining point in his life. What a pity he keeps the reader yearning to read more about those eyes till the very end. But I guess ultimately they reside safely in his heart.
What I liked about the book is that it is written in a simple and honest manner without any pretensions and without resorting to sensationalism. But like I said in the very beginning, it is the attention to detail that is truly remarkable. Considering that this book has been written nearly forty five years after the author had passed out of the Institute, I wonder whether he had the habit of maintaining a diary.
This book is recommended as an excellent read for all of us who aspire to relive our own passage through those formative years. The book also serves as a window to those of the present generation to have a peek into the student life as it was during the sixties. For me it was ‘Nostalgia’