Book Review | 2 States by Chetan Bhagat

It has been just eight days into the year and I have finished reading one book. Already! Ahhh… feels like a good start. With the surprisingly pathetic record of last year, 2010 already seems a step ahead in every way.

So about the book I read – ‘2 States’ written by Chetan Bhagat. It’s a story about two people who meet at the finest B-school in India, IIM Ahmedabad and the strenuous effort it takes them to finally get married, the glitch being the cultural differences among the states of India to which these two belong. Contrary to majority of the reviews that I got from people who read it, I seemed to enjoy the book.

I picked it up as the first read of the year plainly because the story line is quite similar to my parents’, actually, exactly similar (though their wedding did NOT happen the way Krish Malhotra and Ananya Swaminathan got married!) My father hails from Punjab whereas my mother is a Tamilian Brahmin (Tam Brahm.) So I was curious to see how the cultural differences (that I have witnessed first hand for the last 22 years) were described in the book.

For the most part, he has got it right except where he described conversations in Tamil that he could not understand. Every Tamil statement that was spoken in front of him and he could not understand was written in the book as “something something,” with a few English words thrown in and somehow the statements had the word “illa.”

Two things…

Firstly, “illa” is NOT a Tamil word, it’s Malayalam. In Tamil, we say “illai” for “no.” I understand he did not write the story exactly as his marriage worked out, but the least he could have done was check the authenticity of the words of a language that’s obviously foreign to him. And didn’t his Tamilian wife proofread the script at all?

Secondly, the translation of the Tamil sentences offended me a little. Instead of “something something illa something education,” (a prototype of the kind of sentence I’m talking about) it could have been done this way: ‘They said words of which, education was the only word I understood.’

Apart from this, the story was good, the humour was awesome. I laughed my butt off at certain statements directed towards Punjabis and Tam Brams knowing how true they were. The one statement I remember right now is, ‘Educational degrees to a South Indian are what marble flooring is to a Punjabi.’ The love story, the chemistry, and the conversations between the couple were so natural that I couldn’t put the book down once I started reading it. It took me a day and a half to finish 270 pages even with lectures, phone calls, internet and stuff which is not that bad a record. I would recommend the book if you want to have a good time.

So I loved the first read of the year. Once I post this blog, I’m going to start with the next one pronto. This week I bought a few books (‘Sea of Poppies’ – Amitav Ghosh; the first three books of the Twilight series – wanted to know what the hype was all about; 2 States – Chetan Bhagat; and (ahem) Confessions of a Lapdancer :P) So obviously, my next read is Confessions of a Lapdancer.

Oh and by the way, I’m planning on reading a book a week throughout the year which makes it around 52 books in 2010. Even if I manage to go thorough 26, it won’t be such a bad deal 😉

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