July 16, 2008

Unaccustomed to the truth !

I started reading Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri close to a week back, and it being mostly short stories, helped me read it with comparative ease over the period of last week. Now I have reached a portion which is a predominantly a longer short story giving the story of two Bengali kids who have grown up and then end up finding each other in Rome when each is at Rome for very different reasons. The girl is on her last single vacation and the guy is based in Rome as a photographer. One of the aspects of this story is the predictability and also to some extend the similarity to the previous short stories in the book. All of them deal with Indians settled in the US in the age group of 26- 35years and how different they are as compared to their parents who would have migrated to the US in their early 30s, but all married and settled in life, hence leaving very little for change in their way of life. One tends to relate to the inhibitions parents have and the frustration grown up children face while having to explain matters to parents, who at their age having seen life in much more wider perspective, and who also seem to think all issues kids are faced with are either immaterial or of much lesser priority as compared to mainstream life. When we read the first 2-3 short stories, we tend to feel what the author is trying to portray but on moving to the 5th or the 6th story you feel the lack of matter and the simple difference in settings and back drops creeping up as the story unfolds. Now towards the close of the book, it seems to be just a litany of differences between the two generations as seen from the author’s eyes. At the end of some stories, there also seems to be a typical 'feel good end' which is 'listen to what your parents told you' !

When I think about some similar scenarios, the difference being I believe some believe in voicing their opinions/ frustrations, and some of us listen, keep peace, and still continue to proceed with our lives as we see appropriate. This demarcation of thought will exist and in some ways I already see the difference in thinking between my brother and myself, in spite of it being just a mere 6 years that separate our ages, and hence I can not start to think what can be difference in thought between parents and children. Though I believe that there is always the support and advise which one requires from parents, but under most circumstances we do tend to take our own decisions assessing pros and cons over time and finally with our fingers crossed.


  1. looking forward to read unaccustomed earth... Although I've I just read one of the short stories..must say liked it..hell and heaven.. I guess everybody has their own way of dealing with their milieu which makes them unique in themselves, sum like to be oblivious to reality, some run away from it, and some deal with it..head on...:)

  2. Haven't read this one yet. What did you think of it? From your post it sounds like its not very original (same old american-born-confused-desi stories)?

  3. Radha: When I started reading it, felt a good work but the fact that stories end before they start and most of the settings are the same.. makes the diff stories seem very alike and hence you tend to lose interest.

  4. When I was a kid, TV came home when I was in my 6th Std. and I still remember all of us (neighbours included) huddled up watching it with awe.

    Now, my 2 and half year ol' daughter picks up my mobile phone, checks her videos, sees pics in the phone.

    Such difference in exposure are one important factor for the different wavelength between parents and child.


Thank you for stopping by. I would love to hear your thoughts ...