Book Review – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A COMMON MAN – TheliteraturetodayFebruary 5, 2020
“The future belongs to the common man with uncommon determination”. Baba Amte.
Genre: non-fiction/ memoir/ true account.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A COMMON MAN is a Memoir by Sanjay Chandra, who has penned down his JOURNEY OF LIFE in this beautiful read. Born in a middle class family, in a small town of India, he talks about the ‘TIMES’ in the year 1959, when he was born and continues the describing the ‘LIFE’ of a Common Man till 2010 and concludes it with an open ending, stating it’s a “conclusion, but not the end”.
He began his professional career with Indian Railways, after completing his professional degree in electrical engineering. He first quit his railway job to join a government company and then quit to join the private sector. Later he quit the private sector to become an entrepreneur and a writer. Therefore, a person, a common man, who has had his share of ups and downs, has experienced the government and private sector both in addition to the challenging field of entrepreneurship, must have not greyed his hair under the sun. A Memoir from such a person would obviously be full of wisdom and experience.
It is short, very relatable, and autobiographical in nature with a chronological account of events. The simple narrative style makes the read very engaging. It’s well-crafted to keep the curiosity of the reader alive till the very end. The title is perfect for the content and the cover showing the mob of common man on the railway platform with a train is so in line with the context of this memoir. The beautiful cover is by Saurabh who can be reached @pramanik.watercolour
We have heard and read, many times, never underestimate the power of a common man. This book gave me a very calming vibe, an excursion I am glad, I took. Books help us go places when we have to stay where we are and this book did just that. I don’t choose to be a common man… it is my right to be uncommon if I can… I seek opportunity- not security… I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed… to refuse to barter incentive for a file… I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopias. By PETER O’TOOLE.
A Memoir is a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge. It is more or less a subset of an autobiography. All memoirs are – at their heart – autobiographies, not all autobiographies are memoirs. An autobiography is the story of the author’s life, while a memoir is a sliver of that. It’s the same difference as between a whole cake and a slice of cake.
Sanjay Chandra, writes he was fascinated by the story; of a child in Oliver Twist, of a child till he’s an adult in Pip and of a child till his old age in David Copperfield. The book begins with the year 1982 and is titled “Journey”. It starts with a train journey, from old Delhi railway station till Bombay (now Mumbai). He was 23years old at that time and had joined the elite Railway Services. It describes in detail, the first day of the author, the train journey experience, the difficulties he faced, the initial rush of being a class-1 railway officer… He also talks about how he used to catch glimpses of TV, movie stars, singers and authors, off and on on his travels.
The story moves backwards to the year 1959, titled as “Landmark” when the author was born to a middle class family. It talks about history of India, pre and post-independence era, the life in those times. He talks in detail about this ancestors and about few things which have not changed till date. Each and every detail that the author shares has a story to tell and an experience which enriches and a lesson to learn. In the next chapter, titled “Steps”, he talks about the time between 1959-1970, the incidents during the formative years, true raw accounts of his innocent, carefree childhood. He mentions little small anecdotes, snippets from his childhood and what did he learn and gain from those experiences.. Chronologically, the story moves on with precious lessons to learn and experiences to enrich.
The author, Sanjay Chandra, concludes with an ending note saying “no child is born common, but its life can be common or special as it chooses.” I chose not to remain common. He has started writing with the hope that his voice touches lives and others are encouraged to lead a life less common. He say, parents still consider engineering and medical, the traditional safe career options, to be the best choice for their kids despite numerous other better-paying career options. The pure intention behind this book is to inspire the common man, from the middle-class background, to do something different.
A must read especially for teenagers who are deciding their career paths and are still confused, for parents who force their dreams on their kids and for the common man who is struggling, juggling his job and personal responsibilities. Priced at a nominal price point of INR 195/- @amazon.in for paperback and for INR 120/- @amazonkindle for the ebook version, it’s a must read. Published by Notion Press in Sep.2019, it is a quick and enlightening read with 9 chapters covering 153 pages.