Recently finished reading Neeraj Chhibba’s Zero Percentile, an interesting book that details Russian culture and author’s experience learning engineering in Russia. Zero percentile is about an IIT aspirant who misses writing IIT-JEE due to a road accident and gets an opportunity to do his graduation in Russia, his experiences and explorations in Russia during his engineering studies there. (This is summed up by the tag-line-Missed IIT, Kissed Russia)
Book starts with lead character (Pankaj) ’s narration of his birth, his family, childhood days, education and so on. Though narration was good, it got boring after a while and I jumped directly to last few pages of the book, wherein Pankaj tries to convince his Russian friend Sveta to come to India with him. With that, I thought for a moment that this book has nothing interesting and kept it aside for a while and got busy with other work.
However during my recent travel I opened it up again, started reading where I’d abandoned in the middle. Book started getting interesting with Pankaj’s IIT-JEE prep plans, his tie up with senior and junior sirs in running JEE training institute, unfortunate accident and so on. Suddenly Pankaj gets an invite to do his engineering in Russia and from there readers get to feel what it is to go to an unknown country with unknown language for studies (and more importantly study the Russian language first and then study engineering in Russian language)
Just like CB’s Five point someone, here also book explains how students gave more importance to have a fun filled life than focusing on studies. Pressures back home, urge to study well but hurdles and distractions on the path, challenges and opportunities that came their way when Russian economy started opening up and Asian businessmen ventured into Russia with help from Asian students there all these aspects give good insight about Russia, something most of us would have never known otherwise.
I don’t have any complaints or remarks against the book, though I felt initial 50 pages could have been summed up little faster to take the reading to the core of the book (life in Russia). But then, good introduction and background is also essential for better understanding, so can’t really complain. Story is well weaved with no loose threads. Revolves fully around life of Pankaj around his family, school friends, hostel room mates and others. Also connects well with Sikh Riots, World wars and other facts. We all can take home some real life practical tips from various circumstances Pankaj went through and decisions (and risks) he took.
Book is doing very well on the charts (FLIPkart.com) Priced at Rs 95 by Rupa and available even cheaper at Rs 71, this book is an excellent read. Zero percentile is author Neeraj Chibba’s first book and he is also very much reachable through his website, blog, twitter and email if you’d like to interact with him.Other book reviews: It happened in India * Raga Chintamani * 2 States * Not a penny more, not a penny less