Book Review: Such A Long Journey

Oh, look! It’s the critically acclaimed novel which became even more famous when someone raised a hue and cry about it without actually reading it! Pulled out of the college syllabus and bookstores across the state of Maharashtra, this book has become much sought after with full credit to the controversy surrounding it.

Such A Long Journey is about how a Parsi man named Gustad Noble is taken on a politically thrilling ride thanks to a letter from his absconding neighbour Jimmy Billimoria.

Rohinton Mistry begins his story with Gustad’s family and their domestic squabbles, occasionally throwing in Parsi/Gujarati words… the cutest one being matloo. For those who don’t know, Parsis (all sixty of them) are a lovable people for several reasons – the main ones being that they almost always sound chirpy, and eating meat and drinking alcohol isn’t a taboo with them.

Gustad has issues with a few things like his son not wanting to go to IIT and people peeing on his building compound’s wall, and these are problems he has no solution to. Set in 1971, Such A Long Journey is about how the dark times India faced during Indira Gandhi’s term as the Prime Minister affect the Noble family.

Anyway, let’s cut all this out and get to what you’re reading this review for – here’s a sampler:

‘Believe me,’ said Dinshawji, ‘she is a shrewd woman, these are vote-getting tactics. Showing the poor she is on their side. Saali always up to some mischief. Remember when her pappy was Prime Minister and he made her president of Congress Party? At once she began encouraging the demands for a separate Maharashtra. How much bloodshed, how much rioting she caused. And today we have that bloody Shiv Sena, wanting to make the rest of us into second-class citizens. Don’t forget, she started it all by supporting the racist buggers.’

Rohinton Mistry throws in humour that makes you laugh aloud; Gustad and his Parsi colleagues cracking jokes about every community including their own – the laughter it evokes is truly something that would make people divided by religion come closer. At some point, a man they’ve nicknamed ‘Goover-Ni-Gaan’ is brought up, and I just can’t get over it.

Here’s another attack on the Shiv Sena:

‘It’s the time of dubbawallas. They are supposed to use only the luggage van, but some got in the passenger compartments. Jam-packed, and what a smell of sweat. Toba, toba! I began to feel something wet on my shirt. And guess what it was. A dubbawalla. Standing over me, holding the railing. It was falling from his naked armpit: tapuck-tapuck-tapuck, his sweat. I said nicely, “Please move a little, my shirt is wetting, meherbani.” But no kothaa, as if I was not there. Then my brain really went. I shouted, “You! Are you animal or human, look what you are doing!” I got up to show him the wet. And guess what he did. Just take a guess.’


‘He turned and slipped into my seat! Insult to injury! What to do with such low-class people? No manners, no sense, nothing. And you know who is responsible for this attitude—that bastard Shiv Sena leader who worships Hitler and Mussolini. He and his “Maharashtra for Maharashtrians” nonsense. They won’t stop till they have complete Maratha Raj.’

Call it funny or sad, but these words ring true even today. As loud as back then. The anger every community that is considered a minority or happens to be non-Maharashtrian feels comes alive in the words of Gustad Noble’s friend Dinshawji. It is something everybody closely associated with Bombay feels, and it definitely should make at least some sense to the literate ghatis (all eighteen of them).

Here’s one more:

‘Wait till the Marathas take over, then we will have real Gandoo Raj,’ said Dinshawji. ‘All they know is to have rallies at Shivaji Park, shout slogans, make threats, and change road names.’ He suddenly worked himself into a real rage; there was genuine grief in his soul. ‘Why change the names? Saala sisterfuckers! Hutatma Chowk!’ He spat out the words disgustedly. ‘What is wrong with Flora Fountain?’

‘Why worry about it? I say, if it keeps the Marathas happy, give them a few roads to rename. Keep them occupied. What’s in a name?’

‘No, Gustad.’ Dinshawji was very serious. ‘You are wrong. Names are so important. I grew up on Lamington Road. But it has disappeared, in its place is Dadasaheb Bhadkhamkar Marg. My school was on Carnac Road. Now suddenly it’s on Lokmanya Tilak Marg. I live at Sleater Road. Soon that will also disappear. My whole life I have come to work at Flora Fountain. And one fine day the name changes. So what happens to the life I have lived? Was I living the wrong life, with all the wrong names? Will I get a second chance to live it all again, with these new names? Tell me what happens to my life. Rubbed out, just like that? Tell me!’

That he started off by following his fascist family’s footsteps when he could’ve begun by rectifying several of their wrongs might be Aditya Thakeray’s biggest mistake, and it should be his greatest regret.

Such A Long Journey is a book every Mumbaikar Bombayite should read.

The Sucker Punch Review

Rudra – The Idea Of Shiva Review

Gandhi’s Experiments And Hitler’s Struggle

25 Responses to “Book Review: Such A Long Journey”

  1. January 4, 2011 at 06:26

    so this is a 1991 book?


  2. 3 Virali Vora
    January 4, 2011 at 07:39

    Heyyy Aditya.
    I had heard a lot about this book (coz of being in the news n stuff) but your review is simply priceless. It makes me wanna run to the bookshop rite now n get it…. unfortunately i’m at work so i’m gonna hv to wait a bit… but i’m gonna get it ASAP.
    Thanks. And i’m gonna read all your reviews from now on… 😉


  3. 5 blacksheep
    January 4, 2011 at 09:33

    nice review man. pls email me the ebook too, if possible. rishusin@gmail.com. thx


  4. January 4, 2011 at 10:18

    Hey Aditya,
    that’s kickass review, literally! Believe me, this scene is not true just in Maharashtra. Not very different in Tamil Nadu. It is only the human beings who can have so much hatred towards their own. Sad but true. Please send me the e-book too. Thanks in advance!
    Hope to see more book reviews from you.


  5. 9 Devdutt
    January 4, 2011 at 11:49

    Give me a fucking break, Aditya. The train incident? You want me to point out how asshole Gujarati and Marwadi businessmen block seats on local trains for their friends and play cards? How they sing bhajans with zero consideration for fellow passengers? You know I’m no fan of the Shiv Sena but to accuse Maharashtrians of arrogance and lack of humility is to disregard what your own community has patently represented for decades. We’ve never had problems with Christians or Parsis for that matter. But I will personally vouch for Gujarati arrogance and lack of basic civility and etiquette. Go sit at Amsterdam airport and see what your brethren get upto. Or Devon Street in Chicago. The Wagri locality outside my home? The ones who take a shit on the roads and look like they haven’t bathed in a month? Guess what, they’re Gujju too.

    I know your blog tries to get a rise out of folks but for way too long you’ve been making these blanket statements with obvious prejudice. Everybody’s shit stinks but nobody’s without all guilt either. The Shiv Sena are cunts but so are a lot of others.

    Great movie though.


    • January 4, 2011 at 12:39

      Here’s my attack on my own community:

      For those who’ve waltzed in late, I’ve also written about Bengalis (their Durga Pooja), north Indians (their Chhath Pooja) and Islam (quite a bit of stuff).

      And for those who don’t know me at all: I have tons of original humour on atheists and Satanists (LaVeyan, spiritual etc).

      I will, in the near future, be writing about pygmies, people who are taller than I am, fat people, people who use drugs (that includes me), people who have never experienced LSD, people who eat chicken when there’s mutton and beef around…

      Since I don’t do stand-up comedy (though I might, when Karan Talwar hosts the next Schitzengiggles), this is where my racist jokes come in – on my blog…inserted in reviews and other posts.

      Am I clear to everyone reading this or should I put up a small banner on the right side?


      • 11 Sean
        August 25, 2012 at 18:50

        Chhathh pooja isn’t really from the north. It’s the effing B***ris. And I tell you, the ruckus they make… 5 years in Kolkata, and I could almost kiss the Bengalis for their relatively noiseless Durga Poojas). Yes, a lot of B***ris in Kolkata. No offense to any hot babes from Laloo-land (if there are any… just in case)

        FUnny thing is, I never saw anybody who was even remotely religious in the overtly public part of the ‘celebrations’. It was all teen-adult versions of the urchins u saw begging every day, now suddenly grown up into picture perfect hoodlum material (not saying they are, just about the potential).


  6. 12 Roy
    January 7, 2011 at 11:11

    this post is a brilliant rush!!

    there should be a war of Adityas. bring it on.

    mehta vs thackeray!!!



  7. 13 Ardaviraf
    January 11, 2011 at 08:42

    I had to study this novel!!! It does have some funny moments though…. I’m stupefied to see Marathis leaping forward to defend their caste/community because these are the very same folks who can’t let out a whimper to let MNS/SS know that Maharashtrians do not agree with their ideologies and way of functioning. LOL@ all 60 Parsis and 18 educated ghatis 😛 😛


  8. 14 rameez
    January 11, 2011 at 09:06

    the great marathas (ghaatis) learned nothing from the 1993 bomb blasts. they should be made to run like dogs and then lets see what bal and raj thackere can do.


  9. 15 Virali Vora
    January 11, 2011 at 10:09

    Hey Ardaviraf – u actually had this book in your course!!!!! Wow!!!!!

    @ Aditya – Still waiting for the e-book!!!! 😛


  10. 17 Virali Vora
    January 11, 2011 at 10:11

    btw – Loved your reply to Devdutt’s comment!!!! 😉


  11. 18 Kate Stepman
    March 24, 2011 at 06:50

    It is rather interesting for me to read this blog. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

    Kate Stepman
    mobile signal jammers


  12. 19 Metallurgy
    June 6, 2011 at 14:18

    fuckin hate books.


  13. 20 Sean
    August 25, 2012 at 18:53

    A lot of good it did the effing ghaatis. The Thackeray pup…. less said the better. Intolerant imbeciles the lot of them


  14. 21 Priti
    March 2, 2013 at 23:47

    Thanks aditya great review am reading the book for a book club and just wanted to get a general perception ……@ Sean seriously that “goovar-in-gaan” is u mate . I mean seriously if u have a problem say the fucking Biharis or don’t say atall …. The stunted Chath puja as u so call it is not an exhibition of urchins but someone’s faith ! The only thing that’s actually annoying everyone is these fucking Biharis have actually made money to come to BOMBAY and that’s creating a damn problem in everyone’s backside because they are progressing , have money and numbers . Their politicians screwed them so they found an avenue …. The last time we checked this was still democratic and free India !


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