Johnny Gone Down" by Karan Bajaj?
Those who have read it will understand my dilemma - I don't know how to categorize this book - whether to call it a thriller, or a suspense fiction, a philosophical story on life, or simply a greatly entertaining and engrossing story of a person called Nikhil Arya!
If I have to describe this book in a single word, I will only say "extraordinary!". I congratulate Karan Bajaj for "Johnny Gone Down" - he deserves accolades for conceiving and plotting such a story. He is an excellent storyteller -- the pace and the vivacity with which this story flows is incredible. The only time I felt impatient and wished for Nikhil's sufferings to end, I found Nikhil running into Sam and his life undergoing magical changes soon thereafter. Bajaj is very intelligent no doubt - he knows when to stop and change the direction of the story.
Nikhil's understanding and application of Gautam Buddha's ideals and philosophies and the teachings of Gita (the karma yogi bit advocated by Ishmael) take the appeal of the story to a different level.
The thing I loved the most was the message that Bajaj conveyed - if your life follows a route completely different from your peers, there is a reason behind it - your peers were made for their lives and you were made for the life that destiny gave you- you were not cut out for the life that any of your peers lead. When we see ourselves drifting from the planned paths blown away by the strange storms of life, we ask : why me? If everyone else can have a good job, a happy marriage and a peaceful life, why not me? When we stand even behind the starting line and see our peers having a successful career with huge bank balances, we start searching for reasons for ending up differently.
The reason is that we were meant to be different - there is nothing wrong with us.. neither do we lack anything - we were meant to live the life we live --- This is what Nikhil's story tells us.
Nikhil had applied Ishmael's karma yogi philosophy wherever he went and whatever he did. He worked with his heart and soul and kept himself completely aloof from the results. Money never meant anything to him. His selflessness earned him priceless friends for whom he ended up where he finally did.
He had gone to such pits of despair, he could have ended his life any moment - but he did not - he went on learning new things and trying new things with all his might and did not get off the bus.. he kept on journeying through the tremors and the volcanoes.. and finally the bus took him home to Lara and his child, to peace and love, to sleep and dreams.
Such a message coming from an young writer like Karan Bajaj, deserves praise. Live life, take whatever it has to offer, do not question and do not seek.. you will understand the purpose of it all at the end. As the addict in the homeless shelter said-- if you look closely you will only see unraveled threads.. if you look from a distance of time you will see the pattern!
Of all the variedly interesting episodes of Nikhils's life, I loved the Rio episode the most - maybe because of Marco and the vibrant life around - maybe because it was in Rio that Nikhil found love in Lara!
It will be unfair to Karan Bajaj's literary talents if I do not put in a special word for it. He writes beautifully! The book is a treasure trove of some wonderful expressions, phrases and sentences that will remain etched in the readers' minds for long!