Guy on the Sidewalk by Bharath Krishna is about an Indian’s journey to America for higher studies, his struggles and successes in this land of opportunity and, finally, about his journey back to India.
The story revolves around Jay who joins a college in America for a specialized course in management studies. However, he finds it difficult to survive there as he couldn’t get a job. He takes loans from his friends but continues to struggle. After a lot of brain-storming, he decides to move to IT industry as this industry provides a better opportunity to earn and survive in this country. Finally, after an initial struggle, Jay gets a chance to work as a Business Analyst. One by one, he clears all his debts and settles down in America. His journey back to India after settling down there for a few years forms the rest of the story. Basically, the book focuses on an NRI’s predicament about whether he should continue to stay in a foreign land or whether he should go back to his motherland. In the form of a well-crafted story, the author portrays the emotional turmoil of the main protagonist of this novel. The story has been written in an autobiographical manner. The story also has a romantic angle.
One thing that I couldn’t figure out in this book was the reason behind Jay’s craving for going back to India. Though he struggled initially, he had started to climb the ladders of success in America. In fact, he enjoyed his stay in this foreign land very much. For him, his experience of living in America was much better than what he had experienced in India. So, why did he make a decision to go back to his motherland? Was there any catalyst which was forcing him to do the same? Well! I couldn’t locate anything like that in the plot. And, additionally, what was he going to do in India? Readers also do not get to know about that. The nonexistence of answers of questions like these in the book leave readers a bit unsatisfied at the end.
The writing of this book is lucid. The story has been told from Jay’s point of view and this gives us a chance to know his thought-process or what is going on in his mind. This also helps in bringing forth the psyche of those people who go to America from India. An inevitable comparison of people’s attitude in India with those of in America highlights this psyche in both beautiful and humorous manner. The pace of the story is slow but it is not as slow that you will find it difficult to keep it reading. On the other hand, the plot has an assured flow and you will effortlessly keep turning the pages. The cover of the book is appealing and shows a blend of two different worlds (America and India). Both the title and cover of the book perfectly match with the contents of the book.
I would recommend this book not only to those Indians who are planning to go to America, but also to those Indians who are staying there. This book has something for both of them.