Book title: Boomtown
Author: Aditya Mukherjee
Price: Rs 295
Boomtown is the ang-st of breaking out an-d breaking free of the carefully organised patterns of life that parents design for th-eir children.
Aditya Mukherjee tells the story of three friends who get together to start up a restaurant. Jacob James and Karthik Roy are engineers, while Sheetal works in a hotel. Roy, from a typical middle class Bengali family, studied engineering at his parent’s behest, found a job in one of the tech firms in Bangalore that he obviously did not enjoy. The company made losses and he was laid off but could not tell this to his parents.
Out of nowhere, his former mate from engineering college Jacob, who had been working abroad, appears and makes this “absurd” proposal to start a restaurant in Delhi. Jacob, the eccentric scion to a wealthy Malayali family, had chanced upon an old but much respected eatery at Chandni Chowk run by the famous chef Afzal Khan.
He persuades Khan’s grandson Jaaved to team up in this odd venture. His idea was to co-opt Khan Mian into the business because his name sells with the best chefs in the country who would then endorse his idea of a restaurant chain. But Khan is a stubborn old man, unwilling to innovate but also acutely conscious of the changing taste buds of the new generation.
There is excitement and raw emotions as the four partners — Jacob, Roy, Jaaved and Sheetal — team up to find affordable space, furnish it, find the workers, train them and literally launch the new restaurant but not after a getting caught in the drama and tension of being cheated by Delhi’s infamous land mafia. Roy and Jacob are arrested and taken to the local police station. Jacob’s uncle rescues them just in time... While Roy rushes back to the restaurant, Jacob takes off without informing anyone where he was going. He dashes off to Chandni Chowk and is able to convince Afzal Khan to lend his brand name to the new venture.
The restaurant opens the same day. Renowned chef Romesh Ghosh and the investor Ramesh Saxena are present. When Afzal Khan makes his appearance, the deal is sealed. The eccentric Jacob accomplishes his life’s mission. The man who confesses how dumb he was in the emotional department, leaves the very next day without informing anyone, returns home to Kottayam to visit his parents and announces his successful venture to his father.
Jacob’s quest for a venture capitalist to invest in his idea and all the ingredients that go into the making of a business venture are well crafted. The book is a good do-it-yourself guide for any young entrepreneur with a drive for a start-up venture into something unrelated to his/her training.
Sheetal, a single parent with a young son Roshan, and Roy have their moments of romance but the author leaves this part of the story vague, leaving it to the readers to draw their own conclusion. Roy does, however confess to Jacob that he has “a thing for Sheetal”.
The author has woven his narrative around real life events, bringing in strands of his personal experiences at IIM Bangalore where he first started writing the book. He manages to squeeze in enough of the racy elements that make for compelling reading.