Book: How To Make Enemies And Offend People
Author: G. Sampath
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Price: Rs 399
The ‘funniest ever writer to have come out of trans-Yamuna Delhi in the 75–77 kg category’ was once a columnist in this newspaper. It was here that his column gained popularity. When I just joined dna with a bunch of other graduates (six to be precise) many in the group impressed with his “deep, intellectual, bookish air of wisdom”. In this initial days we would walk by his desk, located in the middle of the Editorial floor, with a fair bit of awe. It was quite soon that we realised that this wisdom actually did translate into his writing and we would look forward to his weekly outbursts. His debut book, How To Make Enemies And Offend People is a culmination of all those columns, and is meant for those unfortunate enough to have never read them earlier.
My favourite piece is the one that isn’t offensive at all. It touches upon book arranging, curating bookshelves and the lack of space in keeping them. In ‘Where the Books Go When You’re not reading them’ he ponders important questions like how to arrange the books following “a logic that books can live with” and whether all French authors deserve to be together. As someone who lives in a city not known for its space and who has arranged and rearranged books way too often, it’s a shared experience.
G Sampath has offended, I presume, a fair number of people through his columns. There is a chapter where he talks to Niira Radia and offers to act as a go-between amid parties for free.
Arnab Goswami’s case for PM is argued amidst impeccable logic like the fact that in a nation filled with outrage, “He is the only person...who can be more outrage than outrage itself”. Another favourite is the (now timely) piece on Sachin Tendulkar. His attitude towards the Little Master and the adulation he is always surrounded with, is very obvious and one that I thoroughly laud. He lists out ten questions — from Tendulkar’s silence on the match-fixing scandal, his asking government favours, his refusal to take a stand on any major issue in the country to his terrible captaincy record and his insistence on personal glory over team’s interest — that any true follower of the sport needs to objectively ask the man. Is it possible to get Arnab to outrage at Tendulkar?
The wife, then and now, still fascinates. She hides remotes in vegetable drawers in their fridge, she blocks out horror by focussing on important stuff like clearing important emails on her Blackberry, insists on being cooked in mustard oil during their couple fights about the right way to cook each other, because she is Bengali and because, “Non-veg food tastes best in mustard oil.
Ask anybody who’s ever cooked anybody.”
The writing is short, snappy, and will elicit plenty of chuckles as you marvel at the wittiness infused in daily events. Nobody, not even cockroaches, is spared...everyone is under attack in his world. G Sampath appears to have mastered the art of questioning things that no one else would spend time on...whether it is supporting the cause of Ajay Devgn wearing a bra, his grief at the break-up with his relationship with his bank, a license for people who want to chew gum, dedicating a song to oneself on the radio and whether life would be meaningless without an iToy.
A few of the pieces are very news-heavy, laying (much-needed) emphasis on the issue but drying up on the humour front. Barring that, How To Make... has something for everyone. This is, unless you are a gum-chewing, forever-outraging, iToy-addicted, bath-tub loving, Sachin fan, traffic jam-hating, female virgin (preferably with a price on your virginity) who likes going to the loo with other woman...Then you are bound to get offended.