Friday, May 24, 2013

Complete/Convenient by Ketan Bhagat (Book Review)!!!

 It's almost 2 months since I am writing a book review. A long time. I have finally completed reading Ketan Bhagat's debut novel- Complete/Convenient. I have been one of the promotional partner of this book since it was in its editing stage and after reading this 373-pages book, I am satisfied that I chose a good product to promote/market. :-) As said several times by Ketan Bhagat in his interviews, this book is exclusively about every NRI or everyone living in India and continuously thinking of shifting abroad because of unwanted chaos here. The clarity of thoughts regarding NRI life is what I appreciate the most about the debut author. He does not seems to be confused over the topic that he has selected to write a story about. 

            Ketan Bhagat, on his website, introduces himself as- Professionally, Ketan joined Satyam Computer Services (the company that Mr Ramalinga Raju made both famous and infamous) post his MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute in 2001. After a 1.5 year stint of trying to learn programming and Tamil, destiny finally took mercy on the young, frustrated North Indian and made Satyam show him little bit of the world – 2 years in Malaysia, 9 months in NZ and 4 years in Australia. About 2 years ago, he moved back to India. Currently he works as a regional sales manager at an MNC in Mumbai. Creative at heart, Ketan has done stints in Television (anchor, script writer) and Print (articles in national dailies) during his college days. Few years ago, he helped his brother script a Bollywood movie.

                The synopsis of the book says- 
"Have you ever heard of any NRI who:
Hasnt washed dishes and vacuumed carpets
Hasnt missed any of his friends/ family members wedding in India
Doesnt watch Indian movies, no matter how long he has been outside India
Hasnt been to a striptease
Doesnt indulge in Indian food whenever he visits India on a vacation

Do you know any Indian who:
Hasnt thought of moving out of India for a better, safer life
Isnt fed up of the scams, traffic jams, filth, noise, crowd and crime that are part of everyday life
Isnt tired of attending endless weddings, festivals, birthdays, farewells, parties, lunches and dinners that happen almost every second day in India
Has never envied (secretly or openly) his friend / family member living outside India
Hasnt wondered what makes NRIs return to India

Welcome to the world of Kabir newly married and newly arrived in Sydney, hoping to live the glamorous and sophisticated life he has always dreamt of. After all, a life without frantic competition, traffic jams, queues, dirt, corruption and social obligations (read evils) can be refreshingly convenient. Professional success, new friends, a sincere boss... everything seems to be going just fine. But doesnt this sound too good to be true?"

    Coming to the author, I would say that Ketan Bhagat has done a great job in his debut novel. A book that's made up for a light read is written wonderfully with good narration, easy vocabularies, funny one-liners every now and then (it seems as if this part is in his genes :-)), relative scenarios and yet something that is intense and makes us think about our plans and life. When in one interview I read Ketan Bhagat saying that his stories begin where Chetan Bhagat's ends, I didn't take it seriously but now I can say that this book, at some point, seems to be a sequel to "2 States" where a couple is being married after too much involvement of families and then rather than "And they lived happily after", book discusses what exactly happened to their lives. :-) In short, Ketan Bhagat is someone whom you can't ignore. If he is not very good, he is definitely not someone whom you would ignore. 

            Coming to the book, let's talk about good points first. Book starts with a very good set up where this boy working in an Indian MNC suddenly gets an offer to shift Australia. His college-time girlfriend immediately talks to her parents and decides to marry him before he shifts to Australia and forgets her. The initial family drama while the talks of marriage and while marriage is something that made me laugh as much as 2 States did. Later on, the initial settling in Australia is also shown with okay-ish narration. Then the kind of involvement an abroad job demands is also powerfully and aggressively discussed. :-) The problem that a boy is unaware of before marriage is clearly shown when Kabir's tussle with newly-married wife begins. The differences shown between wife and mother can make any unmarried boy like me get scared of marriage. But Ketan Bhagat has done it well by filling the scenarios with funny statements and expressions of Kabir. Some of them are still making me chuckle. :-)

           The second half of the book is better than the first half. Kabir's situation when he comes to know about a mishap that his sister creates in India is where the book attracted me the most. How even after giving his limbs and arms to his job, he does not get his deserved credit is another pity scenario. The way he got distanced from his father made me weep. How even his mother does not invite him for a function makes me feel bad. Later when his sister invites him, made me more emotional. How he starts finding his Indian friends more emotionally connected than any in Australia (after 2 years). How he starts finding India better than Australia in every term warns us, not-yet-NRI team. :-) How he and his wife, Myra understands each other's situation is another wonderful moment in the book (in the pre-climax). These are some of the few incidents that I have put down in the review else there are many which will drive you crazy when you would be reading this tale yourself.

         Coming to the drawback, the major problem that I have with the author is that even when he promoted the book as a tale about a confused NRI residing in Australia and thinking of India as a better option always, the book is less about it and more about the differences between husband and wife after getting into a love marriage. Rest, if the author isn't talking about Kabir, his wife and his mother-in-law, he keeps on talking about Kabir's working culture and scenario. Though author has tried to give enough of Australia and its life but still, it is something that I was expecting more. I wanted to know about how, as soon as Kabir lands up in Australia, he finds difficult to adapt to the new environments and how he also finds every system far better than India. But all I got to read was stories blocked between the four enclosed walls of his rented flat in Australia. Also, the book could have been easily summed up in 250 pages. 

       Well.. but still this book is something that one shouldn't miss. And it is particularly for the people who are NRIs or are thinking to shift abroad for dollars or for systematic life unlike India's. To the first half of the book, I would give 3/5 and second half, 4.25/5. In all, 3.75/5 what I would give to the first attempt of Ketan Bhagat. 



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