#OneEnduringLesson is the story of Rahul who comes to India to explore his roots and learn filmmaking from the Film Institute in Mumbai. He leaves a comfortable life in London to find his true calling. His desire to follow his heart lands him into all sorts of troubles while opening his eyes to the ‘real India’ that is usually missed by the hurried tourists.
Rahul is half-Indian so he wants to see India as his father sees it. The trip he has planned for himself offers him easy access to Mumbai but when he actually starts living in the city he faces the dark, unforgiving underbelly and is robbed of all that he holds dear as well as his money.
The author has a peculiar way of narrating the story and he has included many of the iconic incidents and activities that make Mumbai the ‘dream city’. People keep struggling in spite of losses and setbacks and their tenacity keeps them going. Rahul is no exception. He finds money yet loses it. Love keeps a step ahead of him and his dreams seem too distant. I felt he would give up, head off to a different path but he didn’t let go.
This book #OneEnduringLesson makes for a champion for the underdog, the person who faces hardships but keeps on striving. Rahul is an NRI yet he makes himself home in Mumbai. The way the author has explored the various aspects of our life, the struggles and needs is the highlight of the book. Rahul is just the medium, I felt the book was more like a memoir with the kind of tales the author narrated. The Hawala transactions, the hunt for a job, the rat hunts in Mumbai and the ideas and advice by beggars, fakirs and even cheaters.
Love plays a major part in this story as does religion. I found the approach of the author quite interesting; he mixed religion, spirituality, and love for a unique reading experience. Many religions and cultures came together to ensure Rahul found his love and his dream. The faith he displays in his journey, the eventual seva brought forth a quiet humility that was endearing. Even his parents represent what love can do over religion, a British mother and a Gujarati Indian father.
The different jobs that he tried even while trying to find time for his love, trying to be the better man made for an interesting read. The supporting characters David and Irfan, who became not just friends but almost family made the stories about the underbelly of Mumbai more realistic. Rekha who gets him the financial stability he needs in spite of his own misgivings and PP Auntie who gave him a place to stay. Her son, Ratan and his girlfriend, Ruby were all people that helped him survive in the hostile times he faced in Mumbai. Keeping his faith in humanity alive, kept him going for his goal.
When Rahul took on the alter ego of Radium, it reminded us the advantage of fair skin, the sad reality of the needs of women in India. Women who are married or not, successful or just wealthy but so dissatisfied for want of attention and male company. The prejudice they face by just being women, those who have money can still buy the affections but what of those who are poor. The role of Dr Mittal who saved Rahul but lost himself, his plight reminds us of the progress our country still needs.
Finally, his love for Julie is what brings him out from the charade of being Radium. He gets the money and the trials of love start. I felt that Julie’s character in her present life could have been explored more. We know of her past but the present is unsure. Even her ‘well-wisher’ is not given due importance. I felt it odd that even though he appeared at various stages in the book but his end was too swift. A few lessons in the book felt a bit clichéd, almost expected. Like the money disappearing or the guy from the aeroplane turning out to be a crook. Overall, the various incidents made a very interesting read, a bit like a masala Bollywood movie.
#OneEnduringLesson delivers what it promises and more. It has a lot of fun anecdotes and incidents. The various women and their stories give it depth and the friends that become family adds a touch of realism to the book. A fast read that will make you believe in the power of faith, love and hard work. God helps those who help themselves – indeed!
One Enduring Lesson
Give me your money, or I will kill you!’
‘Please…’ I gasped. ‘I’ve come from England to study!’
‘Well, let this be your first lesson, English boy…’
Eager to start a new phase in life, Rahul Saxena, 27, a half-Indian British citizen, recently out of job and rejected in love, lands in Mumbai from London to study filmmaking. But little does he know that Mumbai, the city of dreams, will turn his life inside out. From the dark corners of the streets as a professional rat killer to the vermin-infested confines of a jail, from shady dance clubs to the homes of Mumbai’s rich women where he is paid to provide pleasure—fate takes him on a roller-coaster ride that challenges his very will and determination to survive. When his secret life threatens to destroy even the love that he finds, Rahul seeks recourse in spirituality. Inspired by India’s synergetic religious traditions, Rahul fights back internal and external demons to write his own destiny.
One Enduring Lesson is a tale of the undying human spirit of survival against all odds.