Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2 States - Chetan Bhagat

2 States is the Diwali gift that Chetan Bhagat gave his readers worldwide. Like all his previous works, this also in the in-between area of fact & fiction. To say that he is a writer who draws his inspiration from life itself would be an understatement.

The book opens with male protagonist Krish, visiting a psychotherapist. He has paid the therapist, Dr. Neeta Iyer for an hour of therapy and the choices that he has is to either talk about what is bothering him or keep silent, either of which is inconsequential to her. Krish decides to start talking about what exactly is bothering him and why he was pushed to seeing her on the day that he has. And so he starts…..The problem is Ananya Swaminathan.

Before the question mark erupts on your forehead, let me set a li’l bit of the background … The story starts out in IIM-A, where Ananya has already been rated as the prettiest girl of the batch, beauty with brains (since she is a student of IIM-A).
In true filmy style, Krish is positioned two steps behind her in the lunch line. What catches his attention is the argument that Ananya has with the preparations at the mess, and gallantly offers her his share of the dessert in an attempt to catch her attention. But she is not happy with the food and suggests stepping out for lunch, much to the seeds of jealousy she has sown in the rest of the students at IIM-A. She then reveals that 10 guys have already asked her out and Krish is hoping against himself that he doesn’t become the 11th. Well, that was not to be.
Soon, they hang out together, and are labeled a couple. And then a bonding moment…. One fine day, at an Economics class, Ananya is told to get her basics in Economics right, before contributing to the class. And a tear escapes from her eyes, but not before Krish notices it from his seat in class. Ironically, Ananya was the Economics topper during her graduation and this upset her. She then decides that they would study together since he is the geek from IIT and better equipped to solving numerical, but Krish quite obviously had other plans in mind.
In India, a marriage cannot exist only with a girl & a boy, whether it getting married or being married. So Krish & Ananya had to take the next logical step in their relationship. “Meet the parents” or rather “Meet each other’s parents”. This was planned during their convocation and without any surprises the 2 families do not hit it off on meeting. To the extent that they refuse to even share the cab when they go sight seeing and a cold war starts.
Post convocation, they go to their respective homes, Chennai & Delhi and quite obviously miss each other and are formulating plans to get together soon. Ananya was placed with HLL while Krish was yet to start his employment with Citibank. While Ananya has no option to change her work location, Krish can choose and is tempted to write Chennai as his preferred location, but the standard “Maa ka dil” leaves him on a guilt trip, to stay in Delhi.
While still in Delhi, he tries communicating his stance that Ananya would be the girl he will be marrying. To which his mom in her style replies by taking him to a friend’s house who has a supposedly stunning daughter, and also shows him the picture that he is eligible for half their property since the friend had only 2 daughters. Only that he has to listen to her. With that Krish decides to be posted in Chennai.
Chennai is a different world to him and he learns to deal with auto drivers, strict landlord (& rules of no alcohol, no meat & no girls) and indifferent housemates. He has a totally Tamil-speaking team and has to live with a chip on his shoulder of being an IIM grad. His boss Bala shows his bossgiri that Krish should come in early and leave only after he does. This is equivalent of a sure shot method to climb the corporate ladder and for a long tenure at Citibank. Poor guy, little did he know why Krish was the only north Indian trainee at the Chennai branch; all matters pertaining to the heart have their own ways of attaining their goal.
Meanwhile, Ananya’s family have started looking out for a match for her as per their criteria of well educated (meaning a Master’s in the US of A), settled in the USA, the kind who wear sunglasses even when not sunny and trips around the globe (temperature and climate details included). In short, the geek category.
In an effort to make Krish get to know her family better and approve of him, she hits upon the idea to get her kid bro coached by Krish for his IIT-JEE every morning. During one of those tutoring sessions, does Harish, the ideal match according to the Swaminathan clan (barring Ananya of course), turn up for the customary bride seeing session and all hell breaks loose in Krish’s heart. Few hiccups and pages later, Harish rejects Ananya, but at a cost that she has to bear. Parents, so good at causing children guilt trips give her a hard time of rejecting the so-called perfect match. But every cloud has a silver lining, and this gives Krish an opportunity to befriend the dad. So Krish’s scoreline soon looked 2 down and 1 to go (pataofying mom). It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but for a woman it can be anything close to her heart. Krish figures out this and he has the green signal from Ananya’s family but the “*Conditions Apply” stays – only if Krish’s parents also agree.
Mission Delhi for Ananya: Tries cooking but not impressive enough for his mom, after all “Mum is the best cook in the world”. Krish’s dad is not the world’s friendliest person, even to his own family, so no brownie points there. Eventually, there is a heroic deed that Ananya executes, which make her the ideal bahu for Krish’s extended family, but the hitch in the form of DAD still remains.
Then with a befitting twist in the tale, Krish and Ananya get married in Chennai, in south-Indian tradition & a few adventures in the run-up to the wedding.
So what was the psychotherapist doing in the story? How does the wedding take place? – These are the questions that will make you read the book for the answers.

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