The 3 mistakes of my life, Chetan Bhagat, Rupa and Co., Rs. 95
Reviewed by Pankaj Sreenivasan (The hindu Literary Review)
Five Point Someone was as enjoyable as One Night at the Call Centre was not. Then came The 3 Mistakes of My Life. I was willing to cut Bhagat some slack only because my son loved Five Point… May be it had to do something with his aspiring to go to IIT. Still, anyone who could hold the interest of a teenager not normally given to reading fiction must have something going for him.
And, The 3 Mistakes has enough about cricket, and math tuitions, to hold a youngster’s interest. Of course, saying “Chetan Bhagat brings out the ethos and isolation of an entire generation to the fore” (the synopsis of the book says so) is doing it rather brown. One gets the same feeling reading the Acknowledgements where Bhagat addresses his readers with lines like, “My life belongs to you now, and serving you is the most meaningful thing I can do with my life….I don’t want to be India’s most admired writer. I just want to be India’s most loved writer. Admiration passes, love endures,” and so on. That was a bit uncomfortable.
Ups and downs
For the rest, the book is readable. Three friends in Ahmedabad decide to start a sports shop they call the Team India Cricket Shop. A priest’s son, Omi, a National Defence Academy deserter and cricket champ of his school, Ishaan, and the narrator of the story, the aspiring businessman, Govind. They are fairly successful in their business venture and their dreams and ambitions get bigger as they plan to move shop to an upmarket mall. Then, the Gujarat earthquake happens and the mall comes crashing down, dreams and all. But, life looks up again, with some romance between Govind and Vidya, (Ishaan’s sister), the hopes of launching 12-year-old Ali, a reluctant but incredibly gifted batsman as a possible team-India candidate, and a trip to Goa and then to Australia and the Australian Sports Academy.
In between all this, Godhra raises its ugly head. And, with it, the insidious relationship between religion, politics and communalism that has a deep impact on the lives of the three friends, with tragic consequences.
Clearly, the best bits of the book are those related to cricket. Such as the India Vs. Australia test match at Kolkata. The despair, slight hope, incredulity and exultation are infectious and familiar territory. Also, since I like happy endings, that is another brownie point. And, if you want to know what the “three mistakes” referred to are, you’ll have to read the book.
Courtesy: The Hindu