Saturday, March 18, 2006

Phenomenon de Papillon

A funny thing happened today at the old book store that I visited in Coimbatore. I have this habit of routinely peeking into these stores and the pavement book vendors once in a while to get an idea of the ‘hot books’ of the season. Today was once such day when I made the visit.

As I was browsing through books, two girls came, browsed for sometime, and then asked for the book ‘Papillon’. Papillon was a marvel of a story that I read some 4 years back, courtesy my roommate. People who had read this book would definitely remember what a story it is, but the name could be a dampener to people who have no idea it. The girls, I suppose, fell in the latter category. I initially had a feeling that they were convinced about the book since they were bargaining quite loud – which made other customers like me notice – about the price. But I finally realized they had no idea about the book. While they were harping on Rs. 50 for a used piece, the shopkeeper came down to as low as Rs. 60 from his starting price of Rs. 90. What was disappointing about the whole episode was that the deal fell through due to that gap – of a measly Rs. 10, and the girls settled for some other crappy Sheldon novel for Rs. 75!

The whole thing was funny due to several reasons:
  • The book is a marvel. According to me, it’s one of those books that really deserve the ‘must read’ tag and it must be high up there in all ratings and reviews. Rs. 60 for such a book is peanuts. I used to think so high of the story that I felt it is a shame for it to be left behind for a measly Rs. 10. But then, I guess life is funny. Clearly a phenomenon of asymmetric information – as per economics.
  • Those two didn’t have any idea about the book, but being a third person who knew something, I couldn’t pitch in either.
  • Thanks to those girls, the book was now Rs. 60, and I suddenly realized the opportunity to own the book. I was glad to pick it up, knowing too well that there is no way in Godforsaken hell that I could’ve brought down the price to this level.

As soon as I reached home, my father had a smile on his face on seeing the book in my hand. As I figured later, he, along with others in his generation, had read the whole story, episode after episode, in a weekly Tamil magazine called ‘Kumudham’ some decades back. Couldn’t help but think of those two who missed it for Rs. 10.

If you haven’t read this novel: run for it. It’s a true story that would make us realize how valuable our lives are. As mentioned in the cover of the book, it’s truly the greatest story of adventure and escape ever written.

Oh, and by the way, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Richard Branson’s autobiography and Lance Armstrong’s biography were the hot ones in the shelf. Any reviews about the latter two?


At Sunday, March 19, 2006 2:46:00 PM, Blogger Razaldo said...

Consider Richard Branson's autobiography as a light read.
He does mention a few interesting escapades...with law and otherwise.
I thought it got a bit too longish in the middle, and I just breezed through them and finished it off.
Over all though it is a good read.
Just shows how despite his brashness, Branson turned out a successful businessman. I could highlight the main reasons for that to be how outrightly bold his ideas were, and he really has the gift of glab.

At Sunday, March 19, 2006 6:32:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

Thanks Riddle!

I read some amazon reviews too... says the same thing. Im too tempted to buy that book. Thanks for the information!

At Sunday, March 19, 2006 9:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi govar anna,

this is siddharth from coimbatore..doing 3 ece in psg tech..ive been reading ur wonderful blog for about three months now..great to now tat ur in kovai now...i am a cat aspirant.. would be great if u could give some help..regarding how to study and so on...looks like uve been to raja book house in saibaba colony..
coz i went day b4 yes day and saw the books u rote abt.. i too live in saibaba colony..please gimme ur address..kindly mail to ..ill come to ur house .. thanks anna

At Monday, March 20, 2006 2:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read biography by Lance Armstrong.I hve never been a great fan of lance or cycling let alone tour de france :-)

what i felt though was this is an amazing revelation of how important self belief,grit and never say die attitude are to success.And he takes us through his life in a simple and lucid style.

At Monday, March 20, 2006 7:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Govar mama,

Me too been reading your wonderful blog for a few years now.
Nice to know that you live in a godforsaken place called Ondipudhur.
No, am not from any such weird place.
I will also come to your house.

Thank mama.

At Monday, March 20, 2006 7:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Funny to see you addressed as Anna but Mama is the limit! Anyway just thought I should let you know that your Prof is still prowling thru your blogs and enjoying it.


At Monday, March 20, 2006 9:20:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Siddharth: Check ur mail. :)

@Anonymous: I went into a bookshop and bought the Branson one today, but Lance's ones got to wait for sometime. Thanks a lot for the info.

@Rajesh: Let's take it offline. :-P

@Prof. Bala: Thanks a lot sir! It was a really pleasant surprise that you left a comment and it's great to know that you are enjoying my blogs. I hope to keep the same tempo going... :)

At Monday, March 20, 2006 9:37:00 PM, Blogger harry said...

govar maama aka anna,
been reading your blogs for a while and i am really abig fan..used to study some time ago in a remote college called as a IT consult job aspirant..can u mail me your address informally so that i can come and meet you..please dont say nooooo...:lol:

btw what is the book..babillon..i remember a south india porn star by that name..if the book is so good guess need to check it out...

At Monday, March 20, 2006 11:36:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Harry: Well, I have no idea abt any porn star by that name. This book is a real story of an innocent guy who's sent to brutal, inhuman prison in South America for life. He tries to escape abt 8 times and then finally succeeds. The back of the book says "the book that took the world by storm", while I think if the book is even 75% true, it's a story you can hear once in a lifetime. Read it if you like escape and adventure stories.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006 7:42:00 PM, Blogger The Man Who Wasnt There said...

hi Govar! Been some time since I have been here! Okies let me come to the topic of the post...I came to know when reading it half way thro' that it was healthy fiction intermixed with some facts I found it a big disappointment. I mean really why market it as 'fact'? what difference is there with the fantastic adventures that Carriere goes thro' and say err..Harry Potter??

Somehow I couldnt enjoi the book as a 'fiction'.

At Tuesday, March 21, 2006 10:04:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

What is true is that he's escaped so many times and went through these places, but there is a debate about whether 'all the details' are true. I think it's more of a debate... I ahvent read anywhere that is really is part fiction. Where did uu learn its fiction?

I think a lot of people doubt it, but frankly, even if it is all say 50% true, it's surreal.

At Thursday, March 23, 2006 12:40:00 PM, Blogger Divya said...

Hey Govar..
Papillon is on of the gretest books i've read...u can c the limits of human endurance and perseverance...a real worthy read na..

At Thursday, March 23, 2006 10:16:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Divya: You bet!

At Tuesday, April 11, 2006 11:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Richard Branson's autobiography : It is awesome is a book where u can trace the whole of music history when the hippie culture started... u get to know abt a lot of things abt the rock grps in tht period.n this guy is truly a maverick ..u just cant stop admiring him..esp sick n tired of reading books like "from pepsi to apple " where ppl trace a long management strategy for their success...this guy is so unnassuming...he doesnt atttribute his success to some crap management terms is a must read ! i enjoyed the book immensely (well the title of da book is cool !!!)

@Lance Armstrong:

A very small book ..u can finish it one sitting ..he talks a lot abt his cancer survival ...teh story starts when he says abt the post-cancer ....n how he went to win the tour de france ....when a guy like him says tht he wasnt sure what to do after he survived the cancer ...makes him more down to earth ...he doesnt give the usual shit tht "failures are stepping stones of success kinda "...both the books are gr8 ...dont miss them



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