Got the vortex - Metro Plus Delhi, The Hindu, June 3rd 2010

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IIT tales continue to inspire authors and publishers. Anuj Kumar meets Parul Mittal, the latest entry on the buzzing circuit in The Hindu

Girls' side of the story Parul Mittal with her book
Girls' side of the story Parul Mittal with her book

IT professionals finding a way with words is no longer breaking news but a girl's voice from IIT is. As the admission season begins, newspapers are full of pictures of girls in latest outfits queuing up for admission but we seldom find a picture of a band of boys rushing to enrol. Nobody tries to figure out why girls are still in minority in the premier institutes of the country and what happens to those who make the cut in the male bastion. Now, Parul Mittal has given the so-called nerdy girls a novel life through “Heartbreaks & Dreams – The Girls @ IIT”, brought out by Srishti. “When I was at IIT the ratio was really skewed in favour of the boys. Now I have heard things are changing,” says Parul who passed out from IIT Delhi in 1995. “Still, I always found it strange that the girl's point of view never found its way in the novels that were weaved around the IITs.”

It is the tale of Tanu, who like every one who clears the IIT JEE, considers himself or herself the most intelligent person in the country but as soon as he or she enters the campus he finds the reality is different. “I also got the shock of my life when I got one out of 20 in my first test. So in a way it is my story but not entirely. I have taken episodes from the lives of my friends, stories that I have heard, and have weaved them into a narrative. Like, during my stay no professor committed suicide because he was not happy with the system but then I have heard stories of dissatisfaction about rote learning and too much emphasis on theory.”

Her experience

Talking about her experience, she says there were all kind of teachers. “Some were open to new experiments in pedagogy, some were not. Characters like Saurabh and Divya who believed in lateral thinking and participated in extra curricular activities, are taken from real life and the fact that they prospered in the system proves that there is space for different thought processes on the campus.”

Time for love

And time and space for love, which forms the crux of the novel? “At that time the system didn't encourage too much interaction between the two genders. The very fact that the boys and girls' hostels were situated at two extremes of the campus proves that the system didn't encourage their intermingling. Now, I believe things have changed. But even at that time distance didn't deter students from falling in love. As the title suggests, youngsters had time for both heart beaks and dreams. Most of the students who come to IIT spend so much time in preparation that they are somehow cut off from the world. At IIT they reconnect with the world and if you can manage time there is scope for everything.” Even make up as one of her characters, Piya, loves to do? “True, actually it depends on the individual and upbringing. When I joined I had no idea of decking up for occasions but as I spent time I learnt it,” says Parul, who is now working as IT consultant and specialises in social networking sites.

Considering it is her first effort at professional writing, Parul has done a neat job in keeping the interest alive till the last page. There are no shocking revelations or extremist views but Parul has managed to tell the touching tale with a lot of heart. Interestingly, Parul is a batch mate of Chetan Bhagat but she says she didn't know him well during the course. “His book did give me food for thought but that is about all.”

Comments

we had THE NATIONAL BOOK

we had THE NATIONAL BOOK FAIR IN LKO . recently & i picked this book from there only becozz it was written by a girl from IIT... really loved it & especially the ending page is superfab....simply!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the compliments :)

Thanks for the compliments :)

Parul Mittal (maiden name Parul Agarwal) is the author of a national bestseller novel “Heartbreaks & Dreams! – The Girls @ IIT”. Her second book “Arranged Love” captured the hearts of Indian youth. Let's Have Coffee is her third novel and promises to be a humorous and fun light read.

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