I think I know why Chetan had resigned from his promising career as a Banker before he released 2 States. They would have fired him any way for not being politically correct by loving his job, focusing on his career, adoring his company and sucking up to his boss. Krish Malhotra, the lead character, is an IMMA graduated trainee in Citi Bank and Chetan utilizes this role of the character as an opportunity to vent his rage on MNC bankers and banking. He goes to such an extend that after reading the novel no sane person would ever trust MNC Bankers with his money. He indirectly proposes, in spite of their bureaucratic insipidity and archaic rigidity, traditional Indian Banks are the best because they are less show off and less mindless business and more about keeping customer's money safe.It is Krish’s well-paid job in a multinational bank versus Krish’s father-in-law Swamynathan’s dull job in a traditional Indian Bank. It is mutual funds and share markets versus fixed deposits. You will know what I mean when you read the novel.
I am from Mangalore. Mangalore is a place where you always get to see the two sides of the coin they fondly call Youngistan, as reflected in the novel. As I was reading the novel and I reached the place where Krish goes out with the girl his mother tries to fix him up with, it suddenly occurred to me that this is a generation of Indians I am so familiar with and I always get to see in Mangalore. Not that I belong to that generation of Indians who eat in McDonald’s and drink in Barista. But I see them every where in Mangalore. Middle-class kids who, like Dolly in the novel, become anglicized the moment they step into one of these eat-outs good for their ambiance and not so great when it comes to nourishment. Once they are back home they are these middle-class Indian kids again, who never miss the evening prayer like Ananya Swaminathan, Krish’s girlfriend. Chetan captures this trend among 21st Century Indian Youth, as skilfully as it is possible only by him. He makes fun of the identity crisis among 20-somethings, caught within the luring web of liberalization and globalization.
The 20-somethings of India are probably confused about their partially anglicized identity. But that does not mean that they have no clue where they are going and needs the adults to choose for them. In fact, they reason things out better than adults and are much more practical and less snobbish. Krish and Ananya braves the bad weather to make sure that they get what they want. We get to see two love affairs juxtaposed so that we understand the difference. Do you remember the love affair Krish had with Prof. Cherian’s daughter Neha in Five point some one? Krish did not have the guts to face when his dad and Neha’s dad were against their marriage. 10 years ago, Neha and Krish or Ananya and Krish would have had only a single option: elope! Not any more! Krish decides that he is not ready to end up like the lead character in one of the Hindi films with a similar plot!
Reading Chetan is like reading a blog! Why do I think so? One, most of what he writes is autobiographical. Two, he uses language in a similar way I have observed some of the seasoned and talented bloggers among us do. His language reminds me of some of our popular bloggers! No, I think so not just because he uses ‘fucks’ and ‘shits’ elaborately when he writes. It is also because he uses a straight forward language, using similar linguistic gimmicks bloggers use to make their posts appealing!
Of course, the novel is about two people from two ends of India falling in love and trying to get married. A boy from Punjab and a girl from Tamilnadu. And an obvious plot because the story is happening in India – both the boy and the girl have to woo each other’s families to get married with their consent. It is not as easy as you think to overcome thousands of years of racial and linguistics and cultural biases. The book can also be called a study of two cultures.
If you have the habit of giggling or smiling to yourself as you read sensible jokes, 2 States provides you with a lot of opportunities to do so. If your eyes have the habit of welling up the moment you see emotional stuff in Bollywood films, the books brings you several things you can sniff and whimper about for a while. In short, 2 States is a fabulous read!
A Quote from the Novel, that sounded so true:
I came home and sat in front of the TV. For dysfunctional families, television is the biggest boon. Without this electronic glue, millions of Indian families will fall apart.