Mediocre But Arrogant – Book Review By Govinda Senapati. Going through a humorous yet matter-of-fact account of life at a management school is exactly what someone joining a premier institute would need. Also, as for someone wanting to take a look back to his or her journey through the MBA life, Mediocre But Arrogant provides reminiscence to vibrant experiences. Abhijit Bhaduri himself a student from Delhi University and Xavier Labor Relation Institute (XLRI) knows exactly how to narrate the protagonist “Abbey” life account. Many books on the same subject tend to introduce improbable events to souk the story.
Abhijit Bhaduri, here, has used humor as a theme more than a tool for the book, which would keep the reader attached to the “mediocre” story that could be the life of any other MBA student. The term mediocre itself holds more than one meaning to me. In this context I would say it’s pointing to the simplicity of Abbey’s life. He has made fiction appear more realistic. Mediocre But Arrogant was Abhijit Bhaduri’s definition of an MBA student through Abbey and the book is about how the definition changes throughout the 2 years of his life in a business school.
The book isn’t just a description of life and experiences of a particular student in a business school, but is a deeper account on how Management Institute of Jamshedpur (XLRI) ,its faculty, fellow students and people from around the college and few from his personal life, have actually influence and directed Abbey’s life. Focus has been equally divided amongst all the stakeholders and every aspect of anything and everything that had an impact on Abbey’s life is vividly described.
Is seen that MIJ is described not merely as a college but an institution with “Magnificent” foundation story, influence of Tata, fame and status acquired over the years and specially father Hathaway. Father Hathaway, popularly known as Hatthi has been a guide, more like a pioneer in the world of management gurus. How he has been a father figure for Rusty goes on describing the greatness of his charter and helping Dadu in establishing himself. The most memorable instance for me the personalize letters to all the graduating students.
Every student would want a Father Hathaway to change his life; every college would need a Father Hathaway to make it an MIJ. Abhijit Bhaduri picked Abbey as a mediocre person with mediocre aspirations to be more than a mediocre protagonist. Abbey felt admission into MIJ was nothing more than an act of serendipity. Initially he lacked the focus and dedication of a management student and was just a student from a big city university with brave ambitions such as acquiring company of opposite sex. It was the presence of many other charters and instances in his life that transformed him into Mediocre But Arrogant from simply being a mediocre.
These other characters especially Rusty also plays an important role in the course of the story. All the students collectively describe the composition of any educational institute, not particularly a B-school. As mentioned earlier, my special appreciation goes to the character portrayal of Rusty. I particularly liked how Rusty’s character did not need any special introduction or description. The reader will keep on discerning his character with his presence throughout the story. He was a student with management essence and marketing skills. The readers may want to be like him or at least have a friend and mentor like him.
He was a true management material. The way he earned his way throughout two years of MBA through is consultancy and networking itself speaks of his managerial acumen. He was the person who came up to the top against all odds and with little help he is and will be able to transform any chance into a golden opportunity. There have been several instances where he has taught new things and provided guidance to Abbey, whenever required. He was always there for him as a true friend and always realizing whenever he is needed and thinking of the best of interest for Abbey.
His words of wisdom will come true in the reality of life as well. His approach to solving a problem shows that he will be a practical manager with true insights for life inside and outside the corporate world. The other characters too played an important role in understanding the college environment. Abhijit’s extensive use of stereotyping shows how similar many of the people in a college are. There is always an anti-hero as Gopher. There is a regional divide that mostly exists between the Northies and the Southies. Always a Pappu too lazy to get off his bum, will be there and so will be a Joy to lighten the mood.
The companionship over smoking and drinking brings in the realistic angle of any hostel. But above all the dear old eye candy Ayesha with so many guys ogling over and falling in love. Other characters I found worth mentioning are Ayesha, Keya, Kapil and Priya. Ayesha was perfect companion and use to charge some emotional turbulence and always match up Abbey to his sense of humor which depicted strong sense of personal connection that you need in a person with whom one would like to spend time. Although many people loved Abbey, Keya is one person whom he loved back. She was the comfort zone in his life.
The mystery the author introduces in their relationship twice, firstly why did she leave him to begin with, and secondly, what will happen between both of them has really intrigued me. Priya was one person who loved and cared for him and Kapil tried to be a well-wisher telling him the right path to take in his course of love life. Love is one aspect of his life that tends to deviate from MBA but is an important stage in the development of Abbey as a person. The context of his love story with Keya, Priya’s persistent care and Ayesha’s role in bringing in the melodrama were very important stages in his personal life.
His life kept on juggling amongst the three and he was never able to understand the true feeling he had for each of them. This shows the immaturity young man like him might have in the context of relationships. Effective emphasis has been given on the emotional quotient. I would like to point on the incident when Keya left Abbey and his gloomy self was very well illustrated with “Rain had left its tear drop everywhere. ” Such figure of speech involved in describing emotional incidents and Hatthi’s letter towards the end of the story which makes you think of the emotional effect it might have had on Abbey.
The author leaves certain things for the reader’s imagination. Equally the illustrations before almost each of the chapter play an important role in the course of the story. It shows what exactly is there on Abbey’s mind during that time and helps describing the situation and characters better. Where Abhjit Bhaduri has been efficiently descriptive about everything, let it be MIJ, Delhi University or characters playing different roles in Abbey’s life, there I would like to point out that not much importance has been given on the second year.
This is one place I felt the story went off beam. If Mediocre But Arrogant is about love, life in a business school, then I believe the second year has to play, if not more than atleast equal importance as the first year. The novel however has given very little importance with the story just running away towards the end. On the whole it’s a nice experience and I would recommend people this Indian version of Snapshots from Hell, as it will be closer to the Indian society and mindset. A great read for people joining MBA and thoughtful reminiscences for those been there done that.