Thursday, 5 September 2013

Amreekandesi - Masters of America by Atulya Mahajan

Title : Amreekandesi - Masters of America
Author : Atulya Mahajan
Genre : Fiction
Publisher :
Ebury Press, Random House India

Pages : 318
My Rating : 6.5/10
Reviewed For : The
Reader Cosmos Book Review Program / First Reads Challenge 2013 / South Asian Challenge 2013 / IQRC 2013


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.

My Review:

Amreekandesi - Masters of America is one of those reads that can be termed as a tell-all about Indian students living “The American Dream” & the confused life associated with it. The author – Atulya Mahajan, himself has ‘Been there, Done that’ and has wittily drawn out from his experience to portray the struggles of Indian students trying to find their feet in the foreign land whilst adapting to the diametrically opposite cultures. With equal doses of sarcasm & drollness, Amreekandesi weaves together contemporary issues of culture clash, identity crisis & the quest for survival. The plot itself revolves around two Indian boys - the protagonists - Akhil Arora and Jaspreet Singh, who not only share the same apartment but also the same dream of making it “big” in America albeit in different contexts!!

Akhil & Jaspreet (aka Jassi aka Jazz aka Jazzminator) are as opposite to each other as chalk & cheese & so is their reason to go to the States. Akhil Arora is a simple, pampered engineer from Delhi who wants to move away from his overbearing parents, stay independently and hence prove to everyone under the sun (read : nosy & snobbish Uncles & relatives) that he is capable of managing his own life. On the other hand, Jaspreet Singh hails from a small town in Punjab for whom life in America is akin to the movie American Pie and he intends to live it just like that – in the arms of Pamelaji (read : Pamela Anderson). What ensues is a series of episodes – some quirky, some hilarious, some embarrassing and some eye-opening when the horny Jassi meets the equally dorky Akhil in the States and both become roommates.

Akhil is fiercely patriotic & protective of his Indian identity. He looks at America as just a means to carve out his career while staying independently & prove himself. On the other hand, Jassi is ready to shed his Indian identity at the drop of a hat & adopt to the better American lifestyle. He changes his entire way of existence just so to fit in the crowd and be accepted as one amongst them. The author has done an excellent job of taking up these two completely opposite characters & blending them in one storyline. Also, the author gives an honest albeit interesting insight of the life that awaits the Indian students who aspire to study & settle in the States. The initial exhilaration & anxiety of settling down in a new country with an entirely different study system, the slow & tedious effort of blending in with the crowd, the typical mind set and attributes of Indian students and the thrill of visiting new places are some of the aspects that the author has hilariously drawn out in this novel. The reluctant comparisons between the American & Indian lifestyle that Akhil’s mind draws out and springs on him unsuspectingly when he comes back is something that is more and more prevalent today and the author has done an excellent job at portraying it.

At the outset, the book holds a promising note of being a rib-tickling funny read but as the novel progresses the humour quotient drops down the scale. Also, in the last few chapters, the read takes a turn which frankly, for me, was a tad too filmy. And then there is a Jassi’s lack of interest in books and preoccupation with American girls, which is amusing at the start but then only gets more & more repetitive towards the end.

The author’s writing style is simple and uncomplicated which makes this a light and breezy read. The narration keeps the readers interested, a touch of humour here and a speck of satire there make it an enjoyable read overall. Pick it up over the weekend if you are looking for some easy-on-the-senses read.

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