Akhil Arora, a young, dorky engineer in Delhi, can’t wait to get away from home and prove to his folks that he can be on his own. Meanwhile in a small town in Punjab, Jaspreet Singh, aka Jassi, is busy dreaming of a life straight out of American Pie. As fate would have it, they end up as roommates in Florida. But the two boys are poles apart in their perspectives and expectations of America. While Akhil is fiercely patriotic and hopes to come back to India in a few years, Jassi finds his Indian identity an uncomfortable burden and looks forward to finding an American girl with whom he can live happily ever after.
Laced with funny anecdotes and witty insights, Amreekandesi chronicles the quintessential immigrant experience, highlighting the clash of cultures, the search for identity, and the quest for survival in a foreign land
I am quite behind on the review for this book, but I am glad I saved it for last! I have been reading many books that have been quite taxing on my brain off late, and this was just the book to break that phase. It was easy, breezy read and I found myself turning its pages much faster than I intended to. With this book, the author has tried to give us a dope on student life in the USA and, having heard first hand accounts of what it is to be foreign study on American shores, I should say that this book gives an almost accurate account what it is all about and how the main protagonists kinds of become Masters of America while working on their Masters of Sciences
Akhil – organized, serious with a need to prove himself and whose reason to apply to FSU was its extensive research facility and Jazz a.k.a Jaspreet, the happy go lucky, “will do anything for his American pie moment with girls” obnoxious punjabi puttar with a Pamela Anderson crush and whose only reason to attend FSU (Florida State University) was the fact that Florida is famous for its beaches and in turn its bikini bodies end up as roomies pursuing their Masters in Computer Science while also dealing with home sickness, cooking lessons, making long-lasting friendships, falling in love, homework, careers and more. A very interesting thread through out the novel is how Akhil fights with himself to retain his sense of “desi” ness whereas Jazz tries to get rid of it at every opportune moment. What do they each achieve at the end of their masters at FSU?
What I liked about the book:
- A very matter of fact description of the kind things that Indian students do to save some money!! For those that have read this book and might screw your noses at some of the things described in this book, you could be right but I also know for a fact that the author has spoken the truth – I do know of many students who wait for mattresses and furniture to appear at the trash area to whisk them away to their rooms and I do know of those who wait all year without buying anything that would make their life easier while waiting for the Thanksgiving sale to save some $$$. This just doesn’t apply to students but also to those travelling from Indian IT companies to American shores for the first time!! Yes – have seen it and can vouch for it! Good job dear author..
- Dorm Life: “F.R.I.E.N.D.S” style! I personally loved the description of the dorm life style that has been detailed throughout the book. It was heart warming to know how the protagonists make friends in a foreign land (both desis and non-desis), the fun and satisfaction of evenings spent cooking for pot-lucks, the process of graduating from novice chefs to gourmand varieties, celebrating Diwalis and birthdays with new friends and more. It brought back to memories my time away from home with my roommates and the families that we create away from home….
- The fact that the book was not all frivolous and actually paid a lot of importance to the seriousness of students getting their course work done and how the professors out there are more serious when it comes to learning…their insistence that students understand what they learn and apply those concepts to the work at hand is a direct contrast to the still prevalent “mug and vomit” culture we have going on out here in our schools and colleges
- The dream of most young Indians to get placed at Google or Microsoft! I almost fell off my chair when I read the chapters on how those attending interviews at Microsoft and Google are considered demi gods in the desi geek circle 🙂
- The realization that American is not all fun and games like what most consider it to be. The fact that it is actually a country where people work hard, dream and work harder to achieve those dreams has been brought out beautifully. I was particularly impressed with the chapter where Akhil converses with his Janitor, who yearns for his son to show some interest in his studies, no different from any Indian parent. This chapter also throws some light for those that think and still think that the American culture is a self centered one and that people out there don’t care much or their parents or siblings while they have their own way of doing things which do not mirror our ways of being dependent on others for our upkeep at the cost of independence and space.
- Last but not the least, the fear of parallel parking a car. The author is bang on when it comes to this fear of most Indians and actually opens the novel with this particular quirk
- What annoyed me about the book? Well, it was the fact that there Jazz’s character just seem to be incessantly focussed on flirting and getting it on with a girl! Any girl…..he just came across as desperate. Now, I am not sure if Indian students behave this way, but if some of them do then wow!! I can only say it is expected considering Indian attitudes to relationships, male-female dynamics, provocative dressing and sex.
- Then there was the usual quota of some grammatical / contextual errors…I am getting used to these in most debut novels
A great read that you can flip through in few hours! Even my dad enojyed it!! I think any student that wishes to study abroad should give this book a try which can be best called a coming of age novel laced with humor from a debut writer. Though exaggerated and not completely accurate it might shed some insight for a novice student regarding what he / she could expect on foreign shores.
I would rate this novel 🙂 🙂 🙂 /5
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. He also writes occasional humour columns for the Times of India, Crest Edition.
Ever since he returned to India, Atulya has spent thousands of hours shouting at random taxi drivers and motorcyclists who overtake from the wrong side. If you want to see him convert into the Hulk, just honk at him at a red light.
When not busy writing hilarious pieces, Atulya works at an investment bank as a technologist. He claims to be the first man ever to have 24-pack abs, and has reportedly tried about 485 remedies to stop hairfall, all of them albeit unsuccessfully
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