Book Name: How May I Help You
Author: Deepak Singh
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
Book Blurb: In this charming and insightful story, Deepak Singh chronicles his journey as an Indian immigrant in the United States of America.
Deepak falls in love with an American visiting India as an exchange student. The young couple gets married and leaves the country to live the American dream. Unfortunately for Deepak, he soon realizes that reality was completely different.
Armed with an MBA from a good B-school and quitting a cushy job in BBC, Deepak moves with his wife. But once in the US, all he is able to get is a minimum-wage job in an electronics store. Every day he confronts an unfamiliar American culture. He experiences the deeply entrenched racism and observes first-hand the crushing reality of being poor in America.
‘Fresh off the plane’, Deepak tells an intimate tale of living in an unfamiliar place, being the perennial outsider and making a mixed marriage work.
Review: Deepak Singh’s highly personalized account of his journey trying to eke out a living for himself, managing to fall in love with an American girl and then shifting to another country, all of this in a highly competitive world makes for a fascinating read. He provides snippets of his Indian household and their struggles trying to make a decent living and improving their standard of life.
“The biggest conflict between my parents was that my father wanted my mother to live in his village to take care of his aging parents.”
The scenarios and anecdotes provided in the book are highly relatable and typical of an Indian middle- class household.
His surprise at shifting abroad and trying to settle down with his foreign wife provides a good look into the struggle and conflicts between different cultures.
“The array of wine and liquor bottles- which were all sharab, alcohol to me. I didn’t know who consumed so much alcohol.”
He has a tough time finding a job and more difficult is his struggle to hold onto the job. He finds work as a salesman but his English which was perfect back home isn’t just as good in America. The bulk of the book is dedicated to his job experience and how he climbs up from the lowest wrung. In some ways, this is also a dampener as there is little else except his struggle in trying to not get fired.
The language skills of the author are just okay and the book is told in an easy, colloquial manner.
This book is worth a read as it tells the story of the majority of Indians, the faceless people who never get much recognition, the ones who don’t go to Harvard, don’t work in rich corporate offices and have to struggle daily to live in a foreign land and pursue their American dream.