Stories of my constant learning & continuous improvement
Born a Crime

Born a Crime

I have always been a person who believed in getting the most from every experience and not doing anything for just fun. Even while reading a book, I needed to get the full essence and learnings of the book. I have now come to realise that may be that is the reason why I never stuck to the habit of reading books. When I used to miss on a single line, I used to go back and read all over again. For a while what worked for me is listening to audible at 2x speed (for those of you who don’t know it, I love watching things in Netflix because that is the only platform with 1.5x speed) and having a physical book to follow it. Somehow only audible didn’t work for me because I easily get distracted. Even with the audible + physical book combo, it was tough to keep up the habit of reading. 

To get me started on a journey towards audiobooks, Hari suggested listening to a show of Trevor Noah on YouTube. That made me fall in love with his personality. Then the next step on the journey towards audiobook was to actually complete a book on audible. I started listening to Born a Crime. What I didn’t realise till started off was the audio book was in Trevor’s voice (cherry on the cake. Joy of joys. Duh!)! Mahn, the first minute of the audiobook and I was hooked. I couldn’t stop listening to the audiobook. I listened to it in auto, in the gym, during my walk to the market, while cooking and every other small time I found in the day till I finished the audiobook. I loved the audiobook so much that I am here, writing  about this book. 

Even before I get started, the first thing that struck about the book is that it made me believe more in that fact that everything that happens in life, shapes you into the person that you grow into and no matter what happens around you, you have a choice of what you want to become.

An example of it is,

I grew up in a world of violence, but I myself was never violent at all. Yes, I played pranks and set fires and broke windows, but I never attacked people. I never hit anyone. I was never angry. I just didn’t see myself that way. My mother had exposed me to a different world than the one she grew up in. She bought me the books she never got to read. She took me to the schools that she never got to go to. I immersed myself in those worlds and I came back looking at the world a different way. I saw that not all families are violent. I saw the futility of violence, the cycle that just repeats itself, the damage that’s inflicted on people that they in turn inflict on others.


“Learn from your past and be better because of your past,” she would say, “but don’t cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don’t hold on to it. Don’t be bitter.

There were a lot of things that stuck with me about this book and though it would be tough to recollect all of them and write it here, Let me talk about the 5 best lines and things that I have taken away from this book.

My mom did what school didn’t. She taught me how to think.

This line is super close to my heart from the book because these are exactly same lines that mum and dad always thought in and would always tell me that school teaches you hardly a fraction of what life demands. They constantly told me how there was a big wide world out there that was to explore and enjoy. I couldn’t help but smile when I read these below lines later in the book.

When I look back, I realize she raised me like a white kid—not white culturally, but in the sense of believing that the world was my oyster, that I should speak up for myself, that my ideas and thoughts and decisions mattered.

It was a full circle and was oddly satisfying to see this loop close.

The next one is

I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t an outcast. I was everywhere with everybody, and at the same time I was all by myself.

After studying in 9 different schools (I promise, I wasn’t thrown out of any) and being involved in many many clubs in and outside school, I have always had the issue of not belonging to one particular place. The only difference I find in my life’s story and the above line is that I was famous. Being famous also had a cost to it and that too when I constantly kept moving schools. On the flip side to it was the other feeling which is well defined in the line,

As the outsider, you can retreat into a shell, be anonymous, be invisible. Or you can go the other way. You protect yourself by opening up. You don’t ask to be accepted for everything you are, just the one part of yourself that you’re willing to share.

I could absolutely be a different person in different group and no one would know. This gave me opportunity to explore my various personalities and styles. Different friends group of mine knows a different version of me which I think is amazing.

Third on my list is

I believed that Fufi was my dog but of course that wasn’t true. Fufi was a dog. I was a boy. We got along well. She happened to live in my house. That experience shaped what I’ve felt about relationships for the rest of my life: You do not own the thing that you love.

I clearly remember being at the gym when I read this and I stopped what I was doing to rewind and listen to this line again. Just hearing to this line in so many words just changed my perception on things from that moment,

The next on the list is

I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.”

I live with no regrets in life. But this line made me realise that I sometimes hold myself back in the fear of failure or rejection which I could hopefully change so that there is much more colour in life.

Last but not the least is the line,

Hustling is to work what surfing the Internet is to reading. If you add up how much you read in a year on the Internet—tweets, Facebook posts, lists—you’ve read the equivalent of a shit ton of books, but in fact you’ve read no books in a year.

This line made me put timers on all of my social media applications which actually has been going well. I am trying to use the extra time in more meaningful things than endlessly scrolling through the endless content.

I said 5 but I couldn’t resist sharing this one last thing that gave me chills down my spine.

Being chosen is the greatest gift you can give to another human being.

I am soo glad that I made certain choices and chosen certain people that makes me who I am today!

What is your top 5 take away from the book if you have read the book? If you haven’t read the book yet, what are you waiting for? Read it already. I promise you won’t regret!

One comment

  1. Pradeep

    “Born a crime” the title itself is a strong & strange title to fully understand if you have not listen to or read this amazing Traver’s story..this is one of my favorite audiobook! It is in the list of permanent audio collections in my USB stick in my car.. I might have listened to it many many times. Now I just don’t care which chapter I listen to because I can start anywhere or go back and forth. It still makes me to listen to it without losing the charm of this book!
    BTW.. some part of his story can be channeled to the religious upbringing and elderly wisdom in life. Overall it is rich with lots of life lessons!
    Thanks for sharing Vaasavi!

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