The IT boom and recession were factors that drove a large number of youth of India to seek US citizenship. University graduates in all disciplines shifted to IT in those days. The Guy on the Sidewalk is a tale happening in such times.
The narrator’s changing views of America as he grows up has been well portrayed. His college life in India is interesting to read. The way he talks of lions – the ones hanging around in the college café or playground, and dogs – the ones spending time in the library, the way they wrote their exams all this sounds fine. Being a lion, how he falls in love with a girl, Jhansi, from the other group sounded interesting and the tale looked promising. He shows insight in describing the changing definitions of love in the world. However, it gets really irritating when the narrator simply refuses to express his feelings to Jhansi, whom he truly loves. We get an impression from the tale that the girl herself was waiting for such words from him.
The narrator at first comes across as a person who is not very capable of making decisions – in fact he seems unsure of what he wants in life. During his graduation he had total disdain for those shifting over to IT and going abroad, yet he himself ends up in the USA, at first doing an extra MBA, but then switching over to IT. We get to see a lot of comparisons of India and America as he slowly adjusts to life abroad. His descriptions and comparisons may or may not persuade an Indian citizen to migrate. To confess, I do not feel too keen to migrate after reading of the immigration issues, problems with landing a job, etc. The author has talked about the dilemma that most NRIs face – a wish to return to India and a hesitation, often the later carries more weight. The women, especially, have been shown as having fallen for the freedom in the States.
As the tale progresses, the narrator seems grown up and stronger. He makes up his mind to pursue his convictions. He had always felt that India was the place he wanted to be – he wanted to do something for his country. In the end, though he has to tear his heart apart, he does not go back on this decision.
+ + +
- Impartial account of the virtues and ills of US and India.
- The book is sort of a comprehensive guide for people in India who want to migrate to the US of A.
- The changing views of Indian parents who initially wanted their children to be close to them have been well outlined. Example
“Parents in India always want their kids to live near them…. Now they think India is so screwed up that their kids should settle down in the US …”
. . .
- The author had wanted to return to India, hoping to do something for his country. But there is no mention of such an effort on his side. Maybe his interest in politics hints at what he wants to do.
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- It is ironic how the narrator talks of being able to smoke in unpolluted air in the States, while it is not so in India. Smoking itself is polluting or isn’t it?
Get an insider’s view on life in the United States.
A copy of this book was given me by the author in return for an honest review. Thanks Mr. Bharath Krishna