I read this book Earning the Laundry Stripes because I happened to meet the author at the book launch event that she conducted in my office. And I had promised her that I would read and review it like I do all the books I read.
If I have to describe the book in one word it would be ‘Memoirs of an IIMC woman in HLL Sales’. Which can be used by HLL recruits as ‘An informal manual for Management Trainees about to join HLL’. Especially if you come from IIM, and perfect if you come from IIMC. The book Earning the Laundry Stripes seems completely autobiographical. Though the author tries to say otherwise. There is too much of Jargon in the book. I, having spent 4 years in an FMCG company could make most of it. But I still used to get lost on a few of them. I am not sure how many people who are not in FMCG can make them out. There are too many languages mixed all over the book, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, a bit of Gujarati and Marathi and a lot of slang.
I could not figure out the time frame in which the book was written. It could have been anytime from the early 90s to a couple of years back. I think the experiences that author picked up to weave into the story are from an earlier period. And she has tried to put it in the later period leading to discrepancies here and there. But most of them are minor.
The protagonist is a woman, an IIMC graduate who joins HLL in the sales function. The book Earning the Laundry Stripes starts from her placement in HLL to her first promotion in HLL, covering about 2 years and that’s it. Its all about the HLL or FMCG jargon. The daily diary of someone who has to travel to remote locations for sales and meet the people at all levels in the value chain for sales. At no point in time protagonist has any other identity other than being from IIMC and being in HLL. Even when she faces natural disasters and usual eve-teasing, she says this ‘Ghosh I am from IIMC’. As if that makes her a different species and should be treated differently.
There is no depth in the story, formatting is not too great. In the same paragraph, the scenes change and you have to make it out on your own. Ok, the scene has moved from the warehouse to the chummery. She has tried to put 3-4 tracks in the protagonist’s journey. None of which is dealt with deeply. And none of which seem to help her develop as a person.
She is a strong character has been etched out in the very first chapter, and it remains there. The only point I could connect within the whole book was when it says ‘If you are spirited, you have to pay the price for it’. And this is something I have experienced at every step in my life. This is something that could have been the center point of the book if the story was written with a little more depth. And not just lost in telling all the jargon to the world. Every walk of life has its own jargons and so has IIMC and HLL, they are no different and this book almost seems like a celebration of them.
If I have to see the pattern in the book, it would a struggle of someone who has an idea of an IIMC graduate stuck in her mind. And her constant struggle to live with that idea. Another NRI book from someone who wants to be called an author, but with no effort to write sincerely. Have put in the masala elements here and there as a formula. I could not figure out what the author is trying to say, or want to reader to take away. But at the same time, I think the author has the potential to write a good book if she can let go of her strong conditioning.
Buy this book – Earning the Laundry Stripes by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar at Amazon India.