Review: Amreekan Desi by Atulya Mahajan

by Shruti kamat on November 13, 2013

Review: Amreekan Desi by Atulya Mahajan
Author: Atulya Mahajan
Publisher: Random House India
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9788184003956
Rating: ★★½☆☆
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Oh! That American dream, harbored by so, so many of our students. Atulya Mahajan has lived that dream and come back to tell us the tale.

While in the US, Atulya Mahajan started a blog called AmreekanDesi in an attempt to chronicle the Indian immigrant experience in the US and has now brought out a book by the same name.

Akhil Arora and Jaspreet ‘Jassi’ Singh are our American dream-chasers in this novel. Akhil is a nerdy, Punjabi boy from Delhi who has received admission in the prestigious Florida State University. He wants to go to the US and prove to himself and his family that he can live on his own. He aims to complete his higher education, work for a few years but then make his way back to his homeland. On the other hand, Jassi who is from Punjab, sees America as that land of Pamelaji and American pie. All he wants is to date beautiful women and settle down in America. In an attempt to shrug off his Indian identity, Jassi also changes his name to Jazz. These two Indian boys, with absolutely contrasting dreams and ideas end up as roommates in the US, leading to some amusing moments and witty insights.

The book is quite obviously inspired by the author’s own experiences. The feeling of leaving home for the first time, living in a foreign land, dealing with the inevitable clash of cultures all have been done well. The author also builds up the contrast between the characters of Akhil and Jassi quite well, without making them look like caricatures, and give a rather real feel to them. You are likely to find young students like Akhil around you, who want to study hard and earn a decent living in the US without diluting their Indian background. And you will also see lots of youngsters like Jassi who simply want to go to a foreign country to live the good life. It is this genuineness of the novel that is its biggest strong point.

However, it must also be said that the book offers virtually nothing new. The course of the story is quite predictable and if you read this novel, it is simply for its ‘Oh yes!’ feel. There are definitely a lot of amusing anecdotal moments and a love story that is mixed into this broth when Akhil meets a Bengali girl called Nandita. Quite predictably, Akhil’s parents don’t want him to bring home a Bengali girl while Nandita’s parents think Punjabis are loud and abhorrent. What happens afterwards is for the readers to find out.

‘Amreekan Desi: Masters of America’ hence serves to be a nice, light, breezy read, quite suitable for one of those short train or flight journeys, and nothing more.

You might also like reading:

Right fit, Wrong Shoe

The Reluctant Matchmaker

Written by Shruti kamat

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