"Robin’s way of giving the negative events a positive spin, in his own favour of course, evokes a chuckle each time," writes Sonali Bhatia.
I am unable to decide whether Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese is the most hilarious character I’ve ever come across in a book, or the most annoying, or the most vain... I guess he’s all of that and more.
“Dork” comprises a series of precisely dated and timed diary entries, starting on 2nd April 2006 (4 PM), tracing ‘Einstein’s’ career from campus recruitment, through his first project in Management Consultancy, to – ah, but that would be giving it away! Narrated in great detail from the first day in office to the final – let’s just call it the final episode on Jan 10, 2007 – the tale is lightly told. It is now unexpected, now predictable (in an enjoyable way), now completely bizarre, and Vadukut’s introduction doesn’t quite tally with Robin’s conclusion, proving that Vadukut and Robin, are actually two separate people. We also learn that Robin showed his managerial skills long before these diary entries begin. In High School, during a Christmas window-decorating competition, some idiot forgot the cello-tape, and it was only Robin’s superior managerial skills that got his classmates through that crisis.
Robin’s way of giving the negative events a positive spin, in his own favour of course, evokes a chuckle each time. His drunken shenanigans whenever he comes across the girl he fancies are the stuff legends are made of. His language is colourful, to put it mildly, but rings true to the character he is. (Warning, this book is not for the squeamish.) I had to turn the volume down when you cussed, I could’ve done with a few less mentions of puking, and I really wish I could erase the memories of ‘Khujli’ from my mind, but other than that, yeah, Robin, and yeah Sidin for bringing you to life. And, since it’s the audio book I found you in, a special mention of Sunit Tandon for giving you and all those around you such believable voices.
The book is peopled with – um – people. Well, that’s what they are. Real people, whom you come across everyday. Which is why the disclaimer in the beginning goes: “Any resemblance between the characters in this book and the people you, the reader may know in real life is absolutely NOT purely co-incidental.” The cajoling colleague. The overenthusiastic secretary. The omnipresent client. The successful classmate. The Dad, ever in the background. The real-estate broker, famous for giving missed calls. The landlord and his entire family. A room-mate or two, complete with a laughing woman in the room at 3 AM. The security guy, the cabbie, the worker on a flash strike. you name them, they’re there. And there are a couple of canines, too, for good measure. One of them exists, the other was created by Robin to impress a client. We shall not, of course, mention the dead pigeon in the sink, it is not of much consequence to the story. (Told you – if you’re squeamish, this book isn’t for you. Oh, and, the dog that’s real? It dies, too. Chokes on a ball-bearing, actually, early one morning soon after we make its acquaintance.)
No review of Dork can be complete without mention of Robin’s personal and professional mottoes. Apparently, he is a principled man, and he lives strictly by his own diktats. I know, I know, you’re absolutely gasping to find out what these pearls of wisdom are. I’ll reveal a couple of them: “Who needs expertise when you have the internet?” is one that Robin casually drops. “Never bottle up a fantastic idea just because the situation is not right to discuss it with someone as soon as you think of it and it is fresh in your mind” is another, which made him call his superior at 11 PM with a mind-blowing idea – online in-house newsletters instead of printed ones.
Those who have read Lawrence Sanders say that Robin reminds them of Archy McNally – which confirms that hilarious, vain, annoying guys are the same, wherever and whenever they are. The concerns – work, life, love – don’t change with place and time, do they? Which is why the book resonates. There’s a little bit of Robin ‘Einstein’ in the people we see around, in fact, in each of us.
Dork: The Incredible Adventures Of Robin ‘Einstein’ Varghese – Audio Book
Author – Sidin Vadukut
Narrator – Sunit Tandon
Publisher – Penguin
Sonali Bhatia is a Bengaluru based writer and storyteller.