Ok. Dinanath Batra, your move.
I somehow don’t like Sidin. Maybe because I found his Dork book painfully unfunny or maybe because he didn’t reply to me on Twitter once. But I find him overrated (As an author. I still like his tweets). So I was not planning on liking this book and was gleefully looking forward to tear apart all those glowing five star ratings. Too bad. I liked it. I won’t give it Five Stars, but maybe I’ll give it a Perk.
You’re not a True Patriotic Indian if you haven’t received one of those emails with India Facts that you have to forward to all True Patriotic Indians if you are a True Patriotic Indian. You get bite sized pieces of those facts on Whatsapp these days. I delete such emails without opening them and have even sent some of my Patriotic friends permanently to the spam folder. So just when I was about to tick the box that said False Patriot against my ‘Level of Patriotism’ , Sidin thankfully gives me another option . One that I can comfortably tick, guilt free: Sceptical Patriot.
Yes, the book does meander and digress a lot. There’s quite a bit of unrelated personal stories that gives the book a blogposty feel. But forgiven. He doesn’t claim to be writing as a fuddy duddy serious historian and some chuckles are needed to break the academic feel of the topics. There is so much that has been covered and it seems really researched, not just Google researched. Was Sushruta the person behind Michael Jackson or Sridevi’s nose? Did Marconi steal the thunder from Jagdish Chandra Bose? Should we blame ancient Indians for placing Zero in the dangerous hands of Kapil Sibal? Was the whole world at Takshashila long long long before they were at Shardha University? (And oh. Takshashila is not in Bihar). Was ancient India richer than Mukesh Ambani or Sonia Gandhi? Would I have been less intimidated by computerese if my developers used Sanskrit instead of Java? All these questions have answers. Interesting answers. Medicine, economics, physics, history, geography, the range of topics covered seems a bit ambitious. But everything is served in Baby Bear portions, just right. The scorecards at the end of each chapter had me nodding in agreement.
But he has been too politically correct. Come on Sidin, waiting for spicier topics in your next book. Like Tejomahalaya or this or this. And while you’re at it, please tell me what will happen if I drink Coca Cola with Mentos inside the ATM and then enter my PIN backwards.
And then maybe this