Book Review: Complete/ Convenient

Part of Debut Indian Writers Challenge 2013

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The fact that the author’s name rhymes with Chetan Bhagat, is not a coincidence. Ketan Bhagat, is in-fact the younger brother of an author who has redefined our reading habits and has proved that best-selling books can also be made into box-office film hits, in an Indian context. As Ketan Bhagat writes, in his acknowledgements  to his debut novel, Complete/ Convenient, (about his elder brother) “If he wouldn’t have been a writer, I wouldn’t have dared writing a book”.

The book, Complete/ Convenient, is essentially about the NRI experience.

Ketan Bhagat’s professional life (he is an MBA) had made him travel around countries like Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia. The latter seems to have had an indelible impact on his creative spirit, because he has based his debut novel on his Australia experiences. The central character, Kabir Kapoor, is a business development manager at Satyamev Computer Services Limited in Mumbai. (One can relate here the fact that the author had worked at Satyam Computer Services for years.) Originally from Delhi, where his father who runs his own bakery business, after having relocated his own family to India after brief stint abroad, his mother and sister Kiran stay, Kabir shares his rented flat with his friend Ramesh. After receiving an offer from GA (Gajender Agarwal) as Satyamev’s sales head for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Kabir leaves for Australia. But this happens only after his marriage to Myra . It was love at first sight for him ; and nothing for her. She was a difficult girl to make friends with, leave aside winning over in a relationship. The couple move to Sydney, Australia and life there seem to be too pleasant . Kabir strikes a deal for his company, Satyamev, with the largest bank in Australia, Westpac. The episode of Nadia Gorasia  falls right in the middle of the  book. The episode of Divya was, to say the least, utterly disposable. While living in Sydney, Kabir and Myra encounter people like Vishy and his wife, Maria, Parry (Paritosh Jain) and Jane, Nanak and Kavya. All seem to be running flawlessly fine until Kabir’s sister, Kiran, decides to elope with a Muslim fellow called, Javed. Kabir is unsettled and decides to come to his motherland for once and for all. The book ends with Kabir and his old friend, Ramesh, taking over and successfully running Kabir’s father’s bakery business.

The book follows a chronological timeline. Except when Kabir, in Australia, reminisces about his life in India. The readers, along with the central character, Kabir Kapoor, experience and live the love existing between the couple. But one wonders whether love and its making are the only things that exists between married couples? Doesn’t domestic life entail other experiences as well? The entire episode of Kabir’s marriage, prior to his departure for Sydney is enjoyable . The author gives a good description of Punjabi domestic households. “…No matter what the topic of discussion, Punjabi mothers have a knack of bringing it to one conclusion  – their sons are real gems and god’s gift to mankind .” Ketan Bhagat often surpasses his elder brother in providing minute details of scenic descriptions. He description of sydney is an apt sample  – “Sydney. Australia’s financial capital is iconic for a reason – it’s just beautiful . So naturally beautiful that even atheists  would be inclined to compliment God for being at his creative best  – lush green hills, transparent blue water on white beaches, stunning natural landscape, still not screwed up by mankind , a rare occurrence given our natural traits.”

Modern colloquialism is rampant in the book . So is the lingo of SMSes and e-mails. All the characters have been rendered with an excellent physical description .In the author’s idyllic description of Kabir’s opulent rented (the rents are unimaginable when converted into Indian currency) home is Australia, the former’s love and longing for this particular country is too evident when he says, “ The Sydney Opera House in front, the brightly-lit Harbour Bridge on the right, splashing water underneath and a shining carpet of stars above  – its beauty beggared description.” Too beautiful to be true? Well, one has to visit Australia to get behind the truths lying behind such landscaping. The end of the book deals with self–questioning and  deep inner realization on the part of Kabir. This is evident in lines like: “Kabir was so India-sick that everything about India sounded exotic and everything about Australia seemed passé.” Even Myra is not spared: “ In the middle of the beautiful night, half pressed by the weight of her beloved, Myra accepted the lingering feeling that comes as part of the NRI life package  –  insecurity.”

The author has a captivating style of writing , which at times becomes almost lyrical. But he fails to bring his circumstances to a crescendo. The reader, while reading the book, feels that it often peters out in places where twists and turns in the plot were expected.

All in all a decent read with sparks of brilliance, definitely worth a read once.

Title: Complete/ Convenient : There is more to men than bromance
Author: Ketan Bhagat
Publisher: Sristhi Publishers
Pages: 373
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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