Dubai: In times when the quest for the higher purpose of life has acquired strident tones comes the Boston Brahmin, a story that centres around the physical and spiritual journey of Jai, a young Indian expatriate student from Dubai who moves first to Boston and later to Cornell University for his higher studies as well as travels half way around the world with his work only to find his true anchor within himself in his spirituality.
Expatriate students studying abroad
Written by Kannan Srinivasan, a Dubai-based debutant author, chemical engineer and management consultant, the book is making waves at the Sharjah Book fair as its theme is likely to touch a cord in the hearts of numerous expatriate kids who migrate to the West in quest of education but also go through several existentialist conundrums in trying to balance the Eastern upbringing and Western influences that shape their lives.
Speaking to Gulf News on the core issue addressed in the book, Srinivasan said: “Aspiration of wanting to migrate to the promised land is possibly a global phenomenon. The challenges of entry (admission, financial adequacy) followed by cultural adjustment, pressures of a new environment, leading to finding placement (post completion of studies), are not fully comprehended by most students and parents. It’s only as they (students) reach a particular milestone, the families experience immense stress and give their all to enable a successful crossing of the same. Finding a placement is a function of obtaining a relevant visa and this is increasingly posing a huge challenge. While a majority of students and their parents do succeed in progressing onwards their aspirations, the fears that set in, are quite painful.”
Straddling the spiritual and temporal worlds
Srinivasan, the son of well-known journalist Kalki Kannan and the grandson of the Carnatic Music Doyenne MS Subbulaxmi, has met several music maestros, spiritual gurus, diplomats and politicians when he was growing up in Mumbai. The novel amalgamates into the narrative several observations he made then as well as influences from his guru and his family. The narrative is simple, with voices of different characters in first person but focused on Jai’s physical and metaphorical journey through life as he evolves from young student to a consummate professional, even as he deeply looks for answers to comprehend the purpose of his life.
A trial by fire as it were. The book takes one through an intense inward journey of self-discovery through the experiences that Jai has first as a freshman at Boston University with his Indian and international friends, and later at the Cornell University while doing his masters. But all through this evolution runs the cultural-spiritual thread introduced by this father and his guru and that helps him makes peace between his spiritual insights and his rationality that comes with education and experiences in society.
The author makes a point that for the current generation of knowledge seekers it can be possible to see the point of convergence between the spiritual and the temporal worlds.
Why this title when the book not religious?
However, it is not a religious book with any reference to any religion. The term Brahmin does not refer to any caste here but signifies people in search of knowledge.