Review of Kulpreet Yadav’s “India Unlimited”
“India Unlimited” is a spontaneous and euphoric celebration of the Indian diaspora so much so that every story in this collection by Kulpreet Yadav feels like a characteristic dollop of colour on the palette of the Indian experience. This book is a collection of short stories which, on certain occasions, attempt to unmask, in a rather entertaining manner, the diverse mysteries of the Indian mind and life and the intersections between these two veritable entities. The reader is slowly drawn into the smell of the words as each flip of the page slowly and fluidly recreates the Indian story.
The book, in itself, can be likened to an elaborate tasting of the Indian cuisine displayed on an ivory table which spreads over the length and breadth of this culturally diverse nation. The book starts off with a sombre reminder of the negative underbelly of the nation through the innocent eyes of a young peanut-seller. This story sets the tone of the book as it paves a rough road filled with sharp bends and, in the process, taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride. The sharp bends can be felt as the reader eases into the second story which brings to light the erroneous societal stigma that has been developed with regard to the outcastes of our cities. The tool of showcasing a mere beggar as the good Samaritan has been used effectively by the author to bring to light the inherent contradiction of our definitions of good and bad. This, in effect, also goes on to showcase the complex veneer that coats the modern Indian society and the machine of urbanization as we know it. The book is dotted with characters that are champion ambassadors of the variety of people that constitute the rugged and, at the same time, compact definition of modern India. We get acquainted with the seedy underbellies of the cities as the author takes on a trip to the world of prostitutes and local gangsters. At the same time, he gives us a window into his own life by describing the Indian male’s traumatic experience in the quintessentially Indian saree shop which, in an inexplicable manner, is able to wield some form of hypnotic power on the Indian wife. In another instance, the reader is treated to a humorous nugget of a story (at the expense of the author) where the author is found to be in a highly sleepy state during an important conference. The extreme loathing for his boss and the job coupled with his propensity to fall asleep quite frequently and the befriending of an attractive lady lead to a rather embarrassing and simultaneously humorous experience for him. The author also takes us on edge-of-the-seat trips through stories like the one that describes the kidnapping of a famous personality and how the story unfolds through the actions of two young boys who run roadside tyre repair and tea shops.
The varying pace of the stories combined with the variety, both in the underlying emotions and the personality of the various characters, has resulted in a book which successfully and homogeneously represents the eclectic concoction that is better known as India. The book never fails to disappoint when it comes to the plots and the delicious dollops of entertainment help to keep the reader engaged at all moments. In short, the author has put together a wonderful collection of stories that truly stretch the boundaries of the perception of our country to unlimited and uncharted territories. In that vein, “India Unlimited” is truly a wonderful representation of the positive and undying enigma called India.
My rating of the book is 7/10.
Published in Book Link, India (September, 2013)