Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Complete/Convenient by Ketan Bhagat

On the jacket:

How is life outside India? Like they show in ‘Karan Johar’ type of Bollywood movies!

How is life in India? Like they show in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ type of Hollywood movies! 

Have you ever wondered why NRIs long for India? Sitting on their pile of dollars, freedom, cleanliness and convenience, they often talk about the land full of scams, jams, crowds and corruption. 

Just like a real life is full of fantasy dreams, can a fantasy life be full of ‘reality’ dreams? 

What is it about an Indian life that fascinates those living outside it… even those who voluntarily left it themselves? 

Welcome to the world of Kabir, a twenty-something software sales professional aspiring to relocate overseas. Charming, humorous, street smart and interesting, Kabir is a typical boy who loves life. The kind of boy usually Ranbir Kapoor plays in movies. Living in Mumbai with his best friend, who is his complete opposite and a walking-talking ‘excel sheet’, and in regular touch with his forthright girlfriend and family in Delhi, Kabir’s life is full on. 

Elated on being transferred to Australia, Kabir quickly gets married and hops onto the next flight to Sydney. Dazzled by the glamorous free-spirited Aussie world, the newly-married honeymooning couple soon find themselves living a life beyond their rosiest imaginations. A quick professional success acts as a further icing on the cake. 

But as time flies and the humdrum of married and professional life take over, realizations of loneliness and helplessness underlying an envious NRI life begin to surface. Worst come, the relationships left behind are beginning to wither. As his best friend and family battle through unexpected crisis and Kabir himself gets embroiled in professional challenges, balancing between the two worlds – Australia and India – becomes a stressful lone battle. 

Based on emotions that every NRI and people related to NRI go through, “Complete / Convenient” sensitively journeys through characters and situations that the author, like every NRI, personally experienced during his stint out of India (including four years in Sydney).


Another Bhagat novel. But before anyone of us starts reading this, we need to keep all comparisons aside and treat an author on his own right. I had to remind this to myself before I began reading, hence I am stating this, to anyone who would be reading this review.

Complete/Convenient is exactly what the cover pic suggests, which complete showing India and convenient showing Australia. We all feel at home, with our families, in our own land. We feel convenient here. Yet, we travel and live abroad for convenience. Convenience of earning more and then sending it back home, converted to India Rupees. While convenience takes us farther from home, it's at home where we feel complete. The tagline, however, could have been done without.

Written from an NRIs perspective, which Bhagat is, Complete/Convenient is a very sweet, heart warming and honest story. No pretentions, no over the top narration, nothing that will scream out loud from the book that, "This is the last time I am reading this author."

Bhagat clearly writes well.  For me, what added to this impression was his description of how he had bothered a whole lot of people to read the draft of this book, because he was not sure if it was good enough. A vivid description of Australia, for someone who hasn't travelled down under. If you are an NRI, you will relate to this book. If you are planning to migrate out of India, this book will give you a clear picture of how you will start to feel once the novelty of the new country wears off. 

Complete/Convenient is a story about Kabir, newly married and recently moved to Sydney, hoping to make life better. Glad to be away from problems, depressing political situation, power cuts, traffic jams, sky high prices and a string of things he wants to leave behind in India, Kabir is sure life in Sydney will be much better.

But, is it? How much? And is it worth it?

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Srishti Publishers & Distributors. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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