Amreekandesi – The Book
I realize i haven’t written anything on the blog for over a month, but it is with good reason. I have finally made progress on my dream project, which was an idea fostering in my mind ever since i started writing 5 years ago, with a blog tagline that went ‘Stories from America’. It finally kicked off towards the fag end of 2010, but with a full time job, a wife, a little boy, Temple Run and Twitter to keep me busy, it never went anywhere. Apparently, getting milk from the Mother Dairy every evening is more important than creating a masterpiece that generations will remember, and later aliens will read carefully to understand the hairy brown colored species that inhabited their just-conquered planet.
It took a serious resolution at the start of the year, increasing my coffee intake to nearly create-a-temporary-shortage-in-the-market levels, asking my legions of followers to send me virtual slaps if they saw me wasting time on Twitter, and going Manmohan Singh on the family. (You know. Invisible.) It bore fruit. My book is nearly complete. I say ‘nearly’ because it will probably never be complete until someone locks the file up with a password and tells me to get lost (and get a life). I thought it was complete two months back, and since then i have gone from draft 1 to what must now be draft 3 (Or 4. Or 5. God knows.)
Anyway, i’ll cut to the chase. Here’s a quick introduction of Amreekandesi – The Book. Historic moment alert.
The book is tentatively titled Amreekandesi – Masters of America. It is the story of how desi people live their lives in the US after traveling from India, specifically in a campus setting. Some call them FOB. [Fresh off the Boat. Even though nobody travels by boat anymore.] Some just call them names and imitate their accents accompanied with violent head shakes. People like Russell Peters made careers out of doing that.
Every story has their heroes and zeroes, this one does too. Every story has it’s twists and turns, this one has them too. Every engineering graduate is horny for love, these guys are too. Not all stories warm your heart, this one probably will.
This is the story of a young dorky engineer who wants to get out of home and make a man of himself, showing the world that he is capable of succeeding without his mom around to wash his underwear or dad to ask teachers to be nice to the fruit of his loins.
It is also the story of his opposite. Pun absolutely intentional.
The book is a look at how different people behave when they cross Indian shores to travel to foreign lands. Of how Indian people complain about racism abroad when a Punjabi and a Bengali can’t tolerate each other within Indian borders. Of the lives of Indian-Americans and how desi parents the world-over have the same fears and insecurities for their children. Of young kids who travel all the way to the US and try to adapt to the changed environment where people suddenly have different priorities, the girls are pretty and temptations are aplenty.
Any more detail, and i might have to kill you.
Here’s a random extract:
As Jassi was ambling up the aisle after returning from a bathroom break, he noticed a young couple a few seats behind him, and stopped short in his tracks. The guy was probably from Andhra. He was dark, geeky-looking and his face was littered with craters that reminded Jassi of the surface of the moon. The woman with him, on the other hand, was a stunner. Luscious light golden hair, blue eyes and killer looks of a model from a Pirelli calendar, minus the anorexia. The man had landed a beautiful white woman, while being quite ugly himself. He was deep in slumber, and she was sleeping with her head on his shoulder. Jassi was excited. He wanted to shake his hand, hug him, if possible get some tips from him. If HE could do this, surely Jassi would have to manage a long waiting list of desperate American women. This was inspirational stuff.
Just as Jassi was planning his next move, the guy woke up and looked at the weird young boy dressed like Govinda staring at him, drool coming of his mouth. Jassi pretended to search for something in his pocket, and moved on.
Some of my close friends have read the book and, i should restrain myself here but, THEY LOVED IT. It is funny. It is insightful. It will help you improve your GRE score. [The last one not really, but see how i am slyly telling you that not buying this one will not be an option. If fact, i am considering contacting a few prominent engineering colleges in Andhra to prescribe my book as a text book in their last semester. Win-win situation all around.]
While you may admire my god-like qualities and incredibly funny writing style, it has not been easy getting here. The book is almost 75,000 words. Considering my average blog post is about 700-800 words, it’s like a hundred blog posts, each one connected to each other. If that weren’t bad enough, people start getting finicky about petty things like grammar and spellings [Don’t use passive voice. Don’t make spelling mistakes. Don’t name the main protagonist Bablu or Chintoo. Don’t use swear words. Not at your reviewers, at least.] AND then they want it to be funny. Bloody, jaan loge bachche ki? Expectations, i tell you. You give them one thing, and they start getting greedy. Now i know what the Indian government must feel about us aam-janta.
A book is that lofty goal most of us bloggers/writers aspire to, but it’s an arduous journey. I’ve ignored my boy, my wife, my rapidly depleting hair count, and horror of horrors, Twitter. [God only knows i am going to hell for that last one.] Every night, i have had a glass of milk with enough coffee to keep a small village awake, and bitter than Taslima Nasreen on a bad day. I have forgotten what sleeping for 8 hours feels like. I haven’t watched Balika Vadhu in ages. If i had worked this hard for IITJEE, i’d have been in the papers with a dorky grin on my face, the seven hair in my mustache bristling with pride and a few lakhs in the bank from assorted coaching centers i had never heard of. I have spent so much time holed up in a solitary corner of the house, trying to avoid any human contact, that i fear i might have caused irreversible damage to my already inexistent social skills. [Again, you’ll notice how i am using emotion to urge you to shed a tear, and buy my book whenever it is out] All this torture better be worth it.
So that was the easy part – writing the book. Now all i need is a publisher who likes me and/or the manuscript. Will soon start pitching to some of the major publishers. If i say that this fills me with trepidation and that nasty feeling in the stomach fearing jaundice after drinking four glasses of sugarcane juice from a road side vendor in the midst of filth, stray dogs and an open drain, i would not be exaggerating. I would like to crib here about the ones who want me to print out the entire manuscript in size 12 font, double-spaced, one side to a page, and then send it by snail mail, but i’ll let it slip. Sorry, dear forests of the Amazon.
Every result of the Google search for ‘Indian publisher first time author desperate‘ tells me that they dislike us. Hate even. It’s got so bad that every night i dream of the head of a publishing house calling me on my mobile begging and pleading with me to allow them to publish my book, while i act all cocky like i am a girl in an engineering college and they are a boy from mechanical. Of course, 5 minutes later i burst into happy tears and ask for their pen to sign their offer of a few crores in advance payment.
But dreams do come true, don’t they?