About the author:
Atulya Mahajan is the author of amreekandesi.com, a popular Indian satire blog. Born and raised in Delhi, he moved to the US in 2004 for his Masters and stayed on for five years before returning to India, in a Swades-inspired moment. During his time in the US, he started his blog to chronicle the lives of Indians living abroad, and this book is the culmination of that vision. When not busy writing hilarious pieces, Atulya works at an investment bank as a technologist.
Cover and blurb:
Both indicative of the humor genre, and I was interested in the read the moment I read the blurb. Two characters, with contrasting ideas of life abroad ending up as roommates. The premise itself promised humor, and in the end that was what I got as well.
Among my peer group, there are two types of people that I have noticed. The first group want to do well, and study abroad, get settled there because the pace of development is higher and the quality of living is better. The second group are interested in visiting abroad, but they don’t want to settle there, because they have a sense of belonging over here. If one person from each of those were to end up as roommates in a foreign country, the situation was what I read in this novel, Amreekandesi.
First we have Akhil Arora, pampered child and the apple of his mother’s eye, the guy with big dreams but not one that his parents necessarily understand. While they are satisfied with the high pay job he has secured, Akhil wants to do his Masters from the USA and make use of the opportunity given to him by Florida State University (FSU). Though he at first wants to just go away from India, he later realizes that his family is here, and even begins to be thankful for the week his dad spends with him to get him settled there. His to-be-roommate, Jaspreet (or Jassi, or Jazz as he wants to be known in the US) just harbors ambitions of reaching the States. Having had his high expectations doused a year previously, he works for a year and then applies to more approachable universities and gets a call from FSU too. He’s also a pampered Punjabi boy, but unlike Akhil’s parents, Jassi becomes a hero to his proud parents and community. He just wants to go away from India, and live the better life, with American food and girls. He changes himself, accent and all, for that purpose. The book follows their life in the US. There’s even a little romance angle thrown in to the works.
I like breezy reads. They can be completed quickly, and more often than not, have a simple and interesting story. With Amreekandesi, the case was the same. I finished the novel in a few hours, and the story flowed quickly and kept the interest for that duration, and I even went back to some parts. There is humor, though not so much that you LOL throughout the book, but enough at the right places. The things like reaction of their parents to the news, the expectations, their initial surprise to American lifestyle and such are nicely done. From the time Nandita and Akhil meet, you want them to fall in love, and they do. However, I would have liked to see a little more fight from the parents’ side. It felt easy, and it might have been, but the character portrayal of Akhil’s mother especially made us expect otherwise. Narration and editing wise, I don’t have much complaints. I enjoyed the book, the mindset and approach to Indians looking to go abroad, and some of the characters, like Goyal and Akhil’s mom. Pick it up for a travel. You’ll like it.
Author: Atulya Mahajan
Genre: Fiction / Humor
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 199
(Aug 8th, 2013)