Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bangalored: The Expat Story

It is after a long time that I've read a book about India that had me enthralled. Eshwar Sundersan's book, "Bangalored [the expat story]" is about expatriates who live in Bangalore. He meets with various people who are expatriates in Bangalore, and talks to them about their reasons for being in India, their experiences. It sounds quite watery when I put it this way, but it is a very persuasive book.

I feel one learns a lot about their own country by seeing other countries. You finally start questioning long-standing beliefs. Meeting foreigners who are visiting your country is very similar. Since they are new to a lot of customs, they question the establishment a lot more. They have a perspective which forces one to think, and justify a lot of our actions.

Bangalored brings this out very clearly. You see people struggling with Indian concepts that are quite pointless in reality. You see people actually solving problems that most Indians are quite content to complain about. Arranged as a collection of informal meetings, Eshwar does a wonderful job of transcribing thoughts and letting the people tell their story.

As a bonus, Eshwar has taken the time to write a historical perspective on the expatriate phenomenon. The bibliography lists many pointers for the eager reader. This book could not have been arranged better.

And if humour is what you seek, read it to find out why the Bangalore Electric Supply Company is mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Definitely worth reading, for every Indian who wants to understand India better.

A short interview and review by the Hindu on the book is also available online.

Update: Changed ex-patriot to expatriate (thanks, Vlad)