To say that I can fully break down 20 Sips wouldn’t be fair. It’s an outcome of experiences and learnings from the extraordinary life of Major Gautam Ohri (R). Major Ohri has penned twenty short stories discussing various aspects of human life and emotions. We got the book at Bombay Reads a couple of months ago and here’s what I feel about 20 Sips after reading it cover-to-cover.
What is 20 Sips about?
20 Sips is a collection of 20 short stories, mostly stemming from real-life experiences. Every story uncovers a unique emotion, which makes the book a warm, comforting read. It’s like taking a few sips of coffee while reading it. That’s what, I think, the book was written for, to make you feel the humanness inside you that often gets lost in the jungle of spreadsheets and presentations.
But it doesn’t end there. The book brings forward aspirations, ambitions, dreams, and pains from personalities as diverse as a newlywed bride losing her soldier husband and two poor kids from rural Punjab struggling with speaking English on their way to Canada. Every story represents a tale, an emotion, from the depths of this vast nation. You may or may not agree with a lot of things said in the book, but you’ll definitely find yourself thinking with each sip.
What I loved the most about 20 Sips
The thing that I loved the most about 20 Sips is that every story is relatable. Apart from those about army officers and those that involve air travel, I could find some resemblance in every story. Thus, you get involved and invested in the characters and almost live their journey with them.
Another very good aspect of 20 Sips is the tiny peek it gives into the lives of our army personnel. The human behind the respected uniform, the family of a brave martyr, the pain of death, and the pride of sacrifice, are all there. And along with all the highs and lows, cries and laughter, lessons help reflect the bounties that we enjoy without any gratitude.
I have had the honour to meet, interact, learn from, and work with Major Ohri, and I found him to be a multi-layered man. His easy-going demeanour is a mask hiding an intense man who has seen and done things that a common man doesn’t think of. Look in those eyes properly, and you’ll realize that something is not right, but not in a bad way.
When you read 20 Sips, you’ll know what I mean. Coming up with such contrasting stories is not possible when you haven’t seen or done extraordinary things. His days in the army and his current life as a corporate troubleshooter have created a man with the most unique combination of experiences. That’s what you get from the book.
What could have been better
There are two things in particular that I think could have been better. And to be honest, both of those things have to do more with the publisher than the author. The first is proofreading. The editor of the book, which is usually in-house with the publishers, could have done a much better job. There are several grammatical errors that even a free Grammarly check could have detected and hence could have been easily avoided.
The other is the quality of the print. The copy that I got for this review has really bad binding, and the pages have started to come off already. My copy also had two tables of contents, and the first one was the funny one. These might sound like trivial issues, but believe me, this makes a big difference. For book lovers, a book is more than knowledge. It’s an experience of holding the written word. And that experience could get ruined with bad binding or sub-par editing.
About the Author of 20 Sips
Major Gautam Ohri (R) is an army veteran currently in a leadership role at Avenue Supermarts, India’s largest retail supermarket chain. After retiring from the army in 2006, Major Ohri worked in the telecom industry for more than a decade. 20 Sips is his first book.
Noman Shaikh is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bombay Reads. He grew up in Mumbai, a city he loves more than any other, and currently works as a content consultant. His expertise lies in creating high-quality academic and marketing content in the form of blogs, articles, op-eds, etc. Noman has worked with reputed brands, including Economic Times (through Spiral Media), Coinbase (through MattsenKumar), AdEngage, Della Group, GBIM Technologies, VAP Group, etc. For his published portfolio, click here. Contact Noman on noman@bombayreads for engagement.