2 States by Chetan Bhagat
“In the morning?” Rajji mama said, shocked.
Ananya’s relatives congratulated each other on the formal setting of the time. My relatives were aghast.
“This is a wedding or a torture? It’s like catching an early morning flight,” Kamla Aunty said.
‘If all fails with kin, touch feet,’ Krish advises.
I have loved Chetan Bhagat’s work. Always. Not just because he reflects the thoughts and emotions of the youth but for the fact that he gets across to all kinds of people irrespective of their political or social ideologies in life. No high funda stuff and no nerve racking English! Even if you may not identify with any or all characters in his novel you are bound to find people or situations that are familiar.
2 States is one such book where the author very humorously tongue-in-cheek kind of manner portrays the little prejudices that we tend to harbour and throw back at the world. Especially when it is an inter caste, inter community or inter state marriage in India. I just could not stop myself from sharing this book with all of you having gone through it myself! Chetan Bhagat has excellently converted this accepted prejudiced reality into a flawless full-fledged un-put-down able book.
2 States is divided into 5 Acts, being set in the cities of Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Delhi (Reloaded), Goa and the Final Act titled Delhi & Chennai & Delhi &Chennai. It starts off with the main character Krish Malhotra in dire straits, having a nervous breakdown and hounded from all sides – his Punjabi family, his girlfriend and her South Indian (Tamil Brahmin to be precise) family. From here the story proceeds in flashback related by the author to the psychotherapist. Krish’s meeting with his girlfriend Ananya Swaminathan and his consequent relationship with her while studying in IIM seems to be the most natural thing to happen. Chetan Bhagat relates it in such a convincing manner that you could not imagine anything else although you wonder initially how they could survive together, he with his North Indian batter and she with her South Indian Brahmin hick-ups.
While Ananya seems content with “And you seemed like a safe-zone guy. Like the kind of guy who could just be friends with a girl,” the Punjabi hulk Krish wonders, “Why would any guy want to be only friends with a girl? It’s like agreeing to be near a chocolate cake and never eat it. It’s like sitting in a racing car but not driving it.”
Accounts like, “In one (snap), Ananya’s whole family stood to attention at the beach. You could almost hear the national anthem” or “She was covered up enough to go for a walk in Afghanistan” catch your attention and make you smile because you realize how truly descriptive they can be in certain situations.
Chetan makes use of certain ‘bulb switching in the brain’ techniques in his novel wherein Krish makes decisions when he reaches a few dead-ends, this mainly to carry on with his life and for us readers, with the story. Like the time when he finds it cool and comfy to have sex with his girlfriend but is a wee bit hesitant to commit for life and he sits down to pray just before his last job recruiting interview. God appears before him threatening him with dire consequences of losing girlfriend and job with, “You are well past your time. In four minutes, I could let your last bank job slip away…I don’t trust you (to commit to Ananya). Anyway, unto you. You don’t listen to me. I don’t listen to you.”
Or the time when he goes to Pondicherry on work and happens to visit the Aurobindo Ashram and gets some advice from an unknown Guruji about the turmoil in his life, something least expected of Krish or any other person in his place.
Chetan Bhagat does not mince words when he describes in no short terms what he feels about a job at a private international bank like the one where he is working, which is hell bent on squeezing a customer off his/her money making it appear as though they were doing a favour for the hapless customer! The ‘Madrasi’ attitude of North Indians, their obsession with good food, laugh out loud conversation, ostentatious behaviour leaves you in splits. The same when you read about “spiral shaped brown coloured snacks resembling fossilized snakes” (incidentally, murukkus), “Mr. Hindu addict Grumpyswami” (the name that Krish gives his future father-in-law) and the banana leaf which Krish wonders; “I had to eat it or wipe my hands with it.” He also talks about the people’s love for rules. “People in this city loved rules, or rather loved to follow rules. Except if you are a cop, or liquor shop attendant or an auto driver.” This of course, is all seen from the perspective of an outsider in the city. And yes, you also get to know one thing, that all Tamil Brahmins are not vegetarians. They like a shot at some beer, a tug at some chicken and maybe a good smoke! I really laughed when I read what Chetan had to say about a sardarji speaking in Tamil.
“It is like Sun TV’s merger with Alpha TV.”
So, does the couple get together? You bet they do of course, after a lot of commotion, raging emotion and the final help from the most unlikely of sources. The emotional speech given by Ananya’s father sums the theme of the book when he says, “Yes, the Tamilian in me is a little disappointed. But the Indian in me is quite happy. And more than anything, the human being in me is happy… It is a chance to love more people. And since when did loving more people become a bad thing?”
Therein, lies the gist of the story. We are Indians. Love cannot be determined or measured by caste, creed, community or colour.
Do have a read, friends. You are sure to enjoy the novel of the 2 States.