The Diary of an Eccentric Ootian by Ronald Hadrian is a beautifully narrated story of a teenage boy, written in a diary format. The novella is back staged against Ooty, a beautiful hill station in South India. Though presented in a diary format, surprisingly the narration sounds like a continuous story without chapters. By all means the author managed to capture the beauty and the rebel factor of teenage. The events mentioned in the diary are of one year i.e. 2002 to 2003 – like one full academic year.
Broadly, putting, in the diary runs a story of a boy. Recently, he passed his 10th exam and unclear about his next academic choice. Since he was good at English, he goes for Arts – then it was considered suitable for weak students. Those who have passed the school that time around 2002 to 2005, will be able to relate the equivocal pain and suffering of the narrator. The story also reflects many aspects of middle-class life where we see things are not smooth, such as financial tension, family issues, father-son relationship, limited capability of parents, and so on.
However, on the major side, the novella is funny and filled with wits. The way narrator acclimatizes himself as per the conditions is worth noticeable – especially his desire to play guitar to impress girls his age.
With the diary, time moves on, from cavalier events we come up to a point when the narrator stumbles upon a girl – probably a rich girl, but eccentric in nature. Thereafter, the novella becomes melancholy, but in that lies a beautiful message. That girl, whom the narrator likes and also falls in love, is striving hard to preserve the beauty of Ooty. She is involved into organic farming and movements and strikes. The narrator also supports her despite having his own limitations. But true love seeks sacrifice…isn’t it?
Well, the girl is mysterious and eccentric. Her obsession to save Ooty from becoming a crowded and commercial hub leads her to something untoward. The kind of chemistry both share is interesting but at some or other point it hurts both of them. There are gaps and rides and fun talks…but something is always missing. Teenage is so pure and undefiled that one is hardly concerned about hedonistic obstacles and inhibitions. This is quite a good book to refresh the memories of our old school days. There is a lot in the book that will put you into fantasies of that golden age of your life.
Hadrian as an author is quite expressive and mature. You got to believe that he writes well. The pace and other aspects, in the novella, were praiseworthy. This is one book that while reading you will feel growing up with the narrator and the beauty of Ooty may stir the traveling soul of yours…you never know. Overall, it is a good novella with a good story which one can be read leisurely.