I was flattered to say the least, when I was asked for an honest review of the novel, Guy on the Sidewalk. But little did I know I would have a tough time reading it!
Yes, I found it difficult to read because I could totally relate to what Jay, the protagonist was going through.
Like him, I and my husband have been thinking about moving back to India. The timing of the book was so perfect that I was scared I would be influenced by it! (That generally happens, with all the books I read. If a book is emotional and heart wrenching, I drown in the sorrow. If a book is too good, I stay in awe. Thats how a book works its magic on me)
After reading some hundred odd pages, I shunned it, trying to collect my bearings.Now that I know what we are going to do, I completed reading the book. (Details about our decision in future posts. It is way off the topic now to discuss it here)
Jay, an MBA from India, takes a bold decision to quit his well paying job and study further in the USA. It is a bold choice because he has no corporate backing and he is in his mid twenties.
The Guy on the Sidewalk takes us through his 6 year long journey in US, all the while giving us his valuable inputs about various aspects of what he likes in US, in comparison to India.
Throughout his journey he has had Venkat and Siri for support and I wish everyone had such good friends!
If you have stayed in US, you are bound to agree to all the day to day aspects of life in US that are mentioned here. Even if you have never been out of India, you will get to know what it feels like in US. I ended up nodding in agreement to most stuff, like random strangers helping each other, being courteous, the roads, about the book worm haunts of Barnes and Nobles, etc.
Although the book may appeal to many, I think the NRIs will relate to it, the most. It even talks about the working of Indian consultancies in US, the attitude of Indians in US etc.
One look at Jay’s life and we understand that not everything goes according to plan and sometimes, we will have to change our paths to reach our final goal!
Jay decides to return to India, giving up his lucrative career, with not so significant bank balance. Although he enters US with the aim to study and clear his student loans and return to India, the way he drops it suddenly to Siri, his closest friend and lover is a bit hard to believe.
The bottomline of the novel was that, though Jay loved living in US, for various reasons, he decided to use the experience gained for a better life in India. (I also agree that life in America can’t be forgotten in a hurry, even if our heart is pukka Desi!)
The language is simple and easy to read and the story progresses at a steady pace. Except Siri and Jay, the other characters are mere props for the progress of the story. Jay comes off as a clever guy, who knows his priorities and who is honest to accept when he is wrong or needs help.
Overall, the Guy on the Sidewalk is a well chronicled novel of almost every detail an Indian finds new and interesting in US. The book is well worth a read. (Let me add one last thing, I love the cover page.)
1. I loved the fact that as soon as Jay landed in India, he was back to being Indian, instead of turning his nose up like most NRIs do!
2. Jay changes the smooth course of his life, twice, which never happens even once for most people. I wonder what made Jay take such heavy risks in his career.
3. I wondered why Jay never talked to his dad on the phone. He always cut the calls before his dad even talked to him. I think there was scope for something there. Did he have any issues with his father? Or was Jay scared that he might have disappointed him in someway? This part was left a mystery. I wish the author had given some inputs in that angle. Since the novel ends with some loose ends(like his love story with Siri), I hope the sequel(if there is any), will tap into Jay’s relation with his dad.
4. Reading Guy on the Sidewalk, one wonders if Jay isn’t Bharat Krishna, the author himself, not that it changes anything!