Archive for October 11th, 2009

Book Review: Two States by Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat magnanimously dedicates this book to his in-laws. He admits that book is inspired by his own experiences and yet he requests the book be treated as fiction. Its hard to, considering every second couple in this country undergoes similar experiences. Not to mention, every Boolywood movie harps on same theme.

The book is all about an  IIMA couple’s  struggle to marry over the cultural differences. Krish is north Indian Punjabi boy in love with Tamilian Brahmin girl Ananya. (Chetan Bhagat too is Punjabi and his wife is a South Indian.) The only catch is, Krish and Ananya don’t want to elope or be estranged to their families, therefore, they choose to convince their parents for the marriage.


Both Ananya and Krish take turns to win over each other’s families and then they try to make both the families like each other. After all in India, you don’t marry the guy (or girl for that matter), you have to marry the family. In fact, Krish does get 4 gold rings made to propose girl’s entire family! :-/ Sounds cheesy? Well, irrespective of my shortened plot summary, you must concede it is a mammoth project to accomplish anywhere, in real life.

Of course, it goes without saying that even though both Krish and Ananya are exceptions to their North Indian and South Indian clan; this book is perfect opportunity to dwell into age-old ‘North India versus South India divide’.
Krish maybe Punjabi boy, but he is blissfully unaware how in his community greedily and offensively ‘boy’s’ side can come on the ‘girl’s’ side during a Punjabi wedding. Similarly, Ananya, the Tamilian girl is completely unlike other Tamil girls: For one she is not as dark as southern girls ( a fact she will be reminded over and over again by Krish’s Punjabi clan) and unlike her staunch family, she both drinks and eats meat. (May be we should thank IIM for breaking the latter stereotype 😉 )

Though the premise is most realistic, it draws your attention to cultural differences in diverse India. Some of them are as simple as boisterous, loud Punjabi music versus quiet, mellifluous Tamilian Carnatic music. However, the difference in sensibilities is predictable. I familiarized myself once again with all the clichés.

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Visceral Observations is written by Poonam Sharma. It is licensed to her under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License
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