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Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by…

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss

by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

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Professor P.R. Chandrasekhar has once again lost the 2016 Nobel Prize and he succumbs to thinking this is his defining moment. He has planned the party, the speech, the interviews, he takes a nap, he wakes up, he has not won. Professor Chandra has worked hard his whole life, actually work is all he knows. He is an elitist who believes in his work and his rightness. He sometimes wonders if his life’s work being the world’s foremost trade economist isn’t “a giant con”. He has a son, two daughters and an ex-wife who have all taken a back seat to his work in economics and yet he believes that torturing the family patriarch is his family’s tradition and sport. He can be introspective but can also find a reason to disregard his conclusions.

Fifty grams of chocolate gummy bears, a distraction and being mowed down by a bicyclist changes everything. Realizing he has failed at happiness, sprained his wrist, bruised his ribs, traumatized his spinal chord and had a silent heart attack he is told to cut back on everything, relax, follow his bliss. Professor is off to UC Bella Vista in Orange County, California to be a Visiting Professor. The move brings him close to his youngest child and his ex-wife and her present husband. The move is fraught with problems, issues, a punch in the nose and Professor Chandra finding himself at a healing spiritual retreat.

This book was all about “the state of Family.” The good Professor has had to invent “new memories, snapshots of purely imaginary kindness” to imagine his father as a good and caring parent. Despite being a parent who truly cares for his children Professor Chandra imposes the same strictures and judgments that were passed upon him as a child, the same words and criticisms which made him think he was such a failure to his father. Chandra’s daughter Radha is so similar in temperament that she has broken his heart by asserting a total disappearance and silence for the past two years. His son Sunny, worships at the temple of money equals success, positive thinking, financial karma and has become not a son but a rival. His youngest child Jasmine has been damaged by the divorce and her feelings of unimportance. The emotional wreckage would be devastating if told without the inherent humor in this book. There is brilliance, wit, cleverness, great writing and much love to be found in the pages of this book .

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for a copy. ( )
  kimkimkim | Dec 21, 2018 |
It took me longer than usual to read this book due to other obligations, but I was always happy to return to it and had no trouble remembering the distinctive characters and their stories. I liked the main character in particular, the commentary on his Nobel Prize aspiration, the subtlety of the treatment of his name by everyone else, and the interactions with his wife's new husband.

I think the author did a great job depicting academic life as well as a fractured family. There were interesting observations about Esalen, Zen and self-help gurus. I liked Professor Chandra's retrospection of both his career and family dynamics, and I appreciated that at the age of 70, he was able to alter the course of his life. I think this would be a good choice for book discussion groups. ( )
  Loried | Dec 10, 2018 |
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