Book: The Guy On The Sidewalk
Published by: CinnamonTeal Publications, 2016
Book Cover: Excellent!
The book opens with the protagonist rising up to a bright sunrise, sipping hot coffee and smoking his favourite Marlboro Lights soaking up the warm American sun in a friend's backyard. He is moving back to Chennai after six years in The US. His name is Jaywardhan 'Red' ,the book is his story and, I liked his story.
It's the story of every youth from an educated Indian middle class/working background.
A story of That every youth of India, who does not want just to have a respectable job but, want his choice of job to be respected! More so, by himself.
Wishes to work as per his natural inclinations and, yet, to make it big.
From relationships to patriotism, from that Indianised-US culture to the big IT wave, the book covers the doubts and predicaments of that any average Indian youth who possesses a normal size brain with a capacity to think on its own and is not bogged down by the 'career wave' or, is guided by the IT craze or the quick money churning USwalla jobs.
This is the way I would like to describe the book in a er.. slightly bigger size Nutshell and as per me, it is sufficient to entice anyone to read it.
The Story: The story in itself is common, the protagonist's dilemma, his aspirations and his experiences are common. Normal. But, his reactions, his learning from those situations, his choices, are different and that's what make him, Jaywardhan 'Red', a different shade of Red.
A roasted, baked, glowing Red, with that deep lava like sheen coming from inside. And not that dull, boring red which eventually fizzles out and turns into a muddy-brown.
Characterization : The characters are well etched and not just the typical 'withIndia' or 'againstIndia' version caricatures. Characters who are unapologetic for their stay outside India. Who don't mask their choices with varied 'needs', who miss the American cordiality and mouth gems about Indians like-
" We have a proud cultural legacy but not a culture in practice." and
"Virginity in India is more out of deprivation than dedication."
The protagonist, Red has a rare and very attractive quality of honesty.. its brutal, omnipresent and very charming. :)
The fringe characters Venkat, Jhansi, Amy, Siri .. are also drawn with that beautiful simplicity which seems to be the natural style of Mr. Krishna.
What I like the most, is the transparency and honesty distinctively evident in every word of the author. I feel the story as if it is His story and though I have never faced the IT dilemma, still felt, as if it's My story!
Those turbulent times of dilemma, that stupid stubbornness for excellence, the way I doggedly used to listen to my heart and consciously steered away from every IN thing, that refusal to be a part of a herd of sheep and NOT to dream an American dream simply for its earning potential... was so relatable, that I cried while reading.
In author's own words, the way IT turned every hard earned University certificate into dirt and every dumbass into an overnight success minting dollars, many, without even knowing that IT stands for Information Technology, the barbs stuck home.
Writing Style - The writing is simple, easy on mind yet, mercifully NOT colloquial. It has that fluidity which makes the reader read more then he had originally intended to and, at times, solely due to that conversational and casual way of writing down the inner turmoil of the character and their feelings with much ease and natural flair, the book is prone to be finished earlier which happened with me despite a huge time constraint!
Some casual lines showing the effect of unadorned words.-
"Finally, the dinner party last night ended like all other parties. No one in the group was devastated because I was leaving them the next day."
"Talking to Siri was an ongoing thing for me, either I talked to her on phone or I talked to her within myself."
Only Grouse: My only grouse was the occasional mistake overlooked at the editing table and the way it ended.
I don't have ANY issues with the end as THIS type of end made Red a fighter, a man true to himself. Following and standing firm with his instincts. Whatever they were/are. But I feel, readers DO expect a kind of concrete ending depicting what exactly he did after returning to India to justify this step. Perhaps a second part is in waiting, which will be a welcome. :)
Personally, being the conscience driven person I am, am okay with Red's decision of moving back despite his clear liking to the American way of life. The clean weather way, the way which offers competitive education, quality healthcare, progressive work culture, public civility, equal laws...
I feel, he wanted his people, the fellow Indians to experience the same. To have that type of stress free daily life. But, knowing well that he alone can't bring that change in his vast, divided, politically rotten, corrupt, over populated judgmental nation, he came back. Laced with that experience. May be doing his bit, simply by living in his own nation.
Book Cover : It shows vivid oriental colours and Indian motifs with the bleak grays of American skyscrapers, and like the protagonist, both are accepted but not merged. This makes the cover a beautiful one. Kudos to the designer.
I had received the book from the writer for an honest review. I am thankful for him not only for the book but for showing a legendary patience which many boast of but only a few possess..