If you are the type of traveler that needs to prepare and plan your next destination months in advance, this post is for you! Reading books (Lonely Planet and other travel guides don’t count) on the country you are traveling to can be an excellent way to get you hyped up for your upcoming trip….and make the time go faster Before traveling to India, we recommend reading all or as many as possible of the books listed below. When doing a volunteer or internship abroad project for a short amount of time (such as one month) you may be too busy to do much reading when you’re actually there. So why not kill some time before you leave and learn a bit more about other people’s experience of being in this complex country.
1) WHITE TIGER by ARAVIND ADIGA: The novel provides a darkly comical view of modern day life in India through the narration of its protagonist Balram Halwai. The main theme of the novel is the contrast between India’s rise as a modern global economy and its working class people who live in crushing poverty. Other themes touched on include the corruption endemic to Indian society and politics, familial loyalty versus independence, religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims, the experience of returning to India after living in America, globalization, and the rivalry between India and China as superpower countries in Asia.
2) SHANTARAM by GREGORY DAVID ROBERTS: A 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, in which a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escaped from Pentridge Prison flees to India where he lives for 10 years. The novel is commended by many for its vivid portrayal of tumultuous life in Mumbai. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Mumbai’s hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere. As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Mumbai mafia. Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas – this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart.
3) TWO STATES by CHETAN BHAGAT: Love marriages around the world are simple: Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy. They get married. In India, there are a few more steps: Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy. Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl. Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family. Girl and Boy still love each other. They get married. Welcome to 2 States, a story about Krish and Ananya. They are from two different states of India, deeply in love and want to get married. Of course, their parents don’t agree. To convert their love story into a love marriage, the couple have a tough battle in front of them. For it is easy to fight and rebel, but it is much harder to convince. Will they make it?