Rubies in my Ears – Review by Sanjay Punjabi

Who is Sanjiv T Lall? Why should you read this book?

Well, I was also filled with the same scepticism when I started turning the pages. An autobiography of an unknown entity held little interest to me.

But soon I realised that there is something more about this book, there is some x-factor about this persona. Yes, it is an autobiography of an ordinary person, a person who started as a rookie and then went ahead to achieve great success in life. But unlike the stereotypical rags-to-riches kind where it is only in the climax that through sheer luck or labour one reaches the pinnacle of success, here the real-life story is instead peppered with countless troughs and crests, and many mini victories and setbacks. And in the process, some sweet sour lessons are drawn from each of these.

The author himself is humble enough to state: “If I can do it, so can you”.

Another beauty is that this is definitely not a dry book. It is not a documentary where the events are merely chronicled into neatly classified folders. This is a colourful, vivid, and lively book where the pace never slackens, the main course does not deviate into any frivolous directions, the writing is delightfully light (albeit with a rich vocabulary), and the intrigue factor remains intact. As you continue reading, you tend to relate to the author, you tend to be a partner with him in his roller coaster ride, and you start empathising with him.

Yet one more big plus is that the author seems to be well travelled. And coupled with his acumen to articulate, he has been able to capture the finer beauty of each of his travel travails. You get a glimpse (just a glimpse mind you) of all his delightful sojourns – Tehran, Moscow, Helsinki Stockholm, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Antwerp, Munich, Zurich, Hamburg, Geneva, Madrid, Singapore, Hong Kong, Auckland, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Dublin, Rome, Perth…Whew! Almost like the Around-the-world-in-eighty-pages kind of journey. More, each of these places is dotted with one of the signature life experiences – whether it is the false promise given by the deceitful Sardar Sahni in Tehran, or the sweet encounter with the beautiful Merle in Den Haag (The Hague), or the chaos created amongst the gendarmes by the discovery of a toy pistol in personal possessions in Geneva, or the ploy hatched with Kay for jumping the French border – making the reading all the more endearing.

And then there are the striking incidents. The turning points, so to say, the moments of truth where the falls are many and escapes narrow. The defining events where the true character of the author stands out. Like the very interesting Reliance episode. Without giving the spoilers away, I would like to state that the boardroom scene, the guessing and double-guessing, the risking-it-all style, the art of negotiations, the calling-the-bluff instances, all took me down the Kane and Abel lane. It’s almost like you want to uncork the bubbly when the author-protagonist wins the round.

The author ends on a solemn note. “Take the passion and the opportunities that come your way and give it everything you’ve got. Love totally and infinitely. For those of you who don’t know what you want to do in life, take heart and be gentle on yourself. There is still time. Be patient, your day in the sun will surely come.”