As children everyone enjoys listening about the life and happenings of elder people. Everyone listens, learns and tries to use their acquired wisdom to make their lives a bit better. This is where the quote, “old is gold” seems appropriate and applicable. The reader gets a similar feeling when he/she reads “The Life and times of a common man” written by Sanjay Chandra. Chandra’s book, is an easy to read in one go kind of book which, to a certain extent seems autobiographical, but at the same time has its own elements of fantasy and comedy. It is like a sequence of events being narrated by the author as he recalls his past time
He recounts the story of his earlier generations and also connects India’s history, pre and post-independence side by side. He shows how life of the common man was earlier and how it has changed with times changing and technological revolution acting as a catalyst in bringing the change.
If one has to get an idea about the life of common man during British times and after their leaving the country, “The life and times of a common man” is a promising read for sure. He recalls not only his earlier generations but also his own childhood and the mischievous nature he had back then. He reminds the reader that how with the passage of every decade he had new prospects and targets in mind to achieve and every person should also keep some targets which he/she can talk about in the later stages of their lives.
He nostalgically goes on recalling his days as a naughty child to going to school and later on getting into Indian railways for his job. How from a carefree, naughty child he became a responsible citizen is what he records in his book. At the same time he keeps recalling the events of India’s history events during the British rule (world wars), India’s gaining independence, struggles and challenges for India and the people of India after independence and various other events like the battle with China etc. In his first person narrative style, the author writes about the challenges life threw at him and how he handled things. It more sounds like wisdom is being imparted by an experienced person. Chandra’s book is a reflection of a middle class family person and his dreams and all the things that happen in his daily life.
The author recalls every decade as he grows and writes all the experiences he could possibly recall. This makes his experiences relatable for everyone because more or less everyone has gone through the same or is going through the same.
The language of the book is simple, lucid and friendly to an average reader in English. The cover of the book gives a fair idea about the content of the book. It shows a train and people standing on a platform. It is certain that train will have an important role in the story. That is indeed proven right when the reader reads the book. The usage of the word “common man” in the title ensures that the book appeals to common man. It also sends the message that the book is certainly not about some celebrity or famous person, rather just about a regular man anyone can encounter on the street and who has the same problems as any average man. This brings the book closer to the heart of any average person.
The people that the author mentions are also, as he claims, taken and built up from his own life. But as the book progresses, the same people appear so lively and realistic that locating them anywhere or with people of their traits is quite easy.
The book has the poet’s life from his early days to post retirement. People who are looking for some light reading who will relax their mood and at the same time give them good lessons about living life smoothly, “The life and times of a common man” will serve the purpose. For readers of the author’s age group or perhaps younger, the book becomes a memoir which they can read and closely connect to. For younger readers the book becomes a guide to living life smoothly and handling things in a better way. For youngest readers the book can be like a bed time story where the life and adventures of a real person are narrated very closely. This makes the appeal of the book very wide and to readers of all age groups. Even those who are interested in noting the live firsthand experience of the changing life of common man as India is in the seventh decade of independence should read the book to get a better idea.